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Theory books for adult wanting depth and breadth


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#1 Dotty old crotchet

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Posted 11 August 2017 - 08:50

Hi everyone,

I'm teaching myself music theory just for fun using Victoria Williams books. I'm hoping to get to grade 5 although I'm not intending to take the exam. The books are clearly very good at what they are intended for but I'm frustrated at a lack of context and motivation. For example I've just finished the first book and I've learnt a few tonic triads but I haven't learnt why are tonic triads important, what are they used for, why am I learning this? At grade 1 I can answer these questions for myself in a rather basic way but I suspect as I go up the grades it will be harder.

So does anyone have suggestions for books that explain the WHY as well as HOW?

Jacqui
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#2 BadStrad

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Posted 11 August 2017 - 09:00

If you go to one of the MOOC portals, such as Coursera or maybe Berklee on line, or just google free online courses, there are some good music theory courses (well there used to be). I remember looking at one which was pretty good at setting the contedt but I'm not at my PC right now so don't have the details handy.
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#3 sbhoa

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Posted 11 August 2017 - 11:21

Are you learning to play or sing as well? If you are can you link the theory to the practical?

It's not really a separate subject and can be easier to understand the theory in conjunction with the practical


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#4 Dotty old crotchet

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Posted 11 August 2017 - 13:06

I'm reteaching myself recorder so no scope for practical harmony stuff!

Love BadStrad's idea of a MOOC. But I have RSI, I can play a bit or type/mouse a bit but not too much of both, so alas it really has to be books.

Jacqui
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#5 sbhoa

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  • Tameside

Posted 11 August 2017 - 14:36

I'm reteaching myself recorder so no scope for practical harmony stuff!

Love BadStrad's idea of a MOOC. But I have RSI, I can play a bit or type/mouse a bit but not too much of both, so alas it really has to be books.

Jacqui

Can you see arpeggio/broken chord patterns is some of your music? These are the triads. Can you find any tonic triads and hear how they work in the music? 

Perhaps the Paul Harris theory books will help you to make the links. They have exercises to help you to link the theory to the practical.


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#6 Hildegard

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Posted 12 August 2017 - 17:14

Just to add that the importance of the tonic triad is that it is the key chord, or home chord of tonal music. The chord to which a piece will normally gravitate and on which it will usually end.


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#7 Dotty old crotchet

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Posted 15 August 2017 - 12:31

Just to add that the importance of the tonic triad is that it is the key chord, or home chord of tonal music. The chord to which a piece will normally gravitate and on which it will usually end.

Yes thanks hildegard, this is just the sort of information I'm looking for in a book on theory. Not just 'the tonic triad of C major consists of the notes CEG', but why a tonic triad is important and why CEG rather than any other set of 3 notes from CMajor. I'm not particularly interested in tonic triads by the way it was just an example of the breadth of information I am hoping to find a theory book which covers.

Sorry grammar has gone a bit wonky there but I think it's clear what I mean.

The best resource I've come across myself is 'understanding the fundamentals of music by Professor Robert Greenberg which is published by the great courses and is an audio or video leisure course for adults but it has the limitation of being designed to avoid the need for any music notation whatsoever.

So I'm still looking for Theory books recommendations.

Thanks for all the helpful and interesting replies so far.

Jacqui
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#8 polkadot

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Posted 15 August 2017 - 13:59

If you're learning for fun and want to know Why something is like it is, you might enjoy the Dolmetsch web site.  This won't teach you music theory as preparation for an exam, but is does explain (probably in more detail than most people would want to know) how the elements of music developed.  This link, for instance, tells you why Middle C on the piano is so named (and incidentally where we get the word 'gamut' from).  Even if you're not learning the piano, I found that an understanding of the piano keyboard was really useful in learning theory (at the time I was learning the clarinet and the piano was a mystery to me).  It's perhaps not the best example to show a recorder player but if you have a look under the music theory section of the site, you will see that it covers music theory very extensively.  It's best used for looking up individual elements though rather than trying to use it as you would a book aimed at beginner theory students.


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