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Old 06-21-2012, 10:33 AM   #1
griffRG7321
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Recommended Reading

I get a lot of questions regarding theory books, so I thought I would compile a list depending on peoples goals. I'm thinking this could be a chance for people to post their opinions on any books they use/don't recommend. I don't study much Jazz so If anyone has some good jazz books they'd recommend I can edit them into this post.

General 'fundamentals'

The AB guide to Music Theory part I - Eric Taylor - The book I'd most recommend to beginners, especially when used alongside with the graded exercise books (grades 1-5).

Musictheory.net

Classical

The AB guide to Music Theory part II - Eric Taylor - Second part of the series, complementary exercise books (grades 6-8).

Study of Counterpoint - Fux - A good book for species counterpoint (if you don't mind the dialogue between Fux and his student).

Counterpoint - Walter Piston - A good book for melodic writing in general.

Preliminary Exercises In Counterpoint- Scheonberg - I've not read enough of it to make an informed review, I'd imagine it's a good book if you're comfortable with old clefs like soprano, alto and tenor.

Modal counterpoint - Schubert - Good for renaissance style writing/species counterpoint in general.

Harmony

Harmony - Piston - Pretty much covers tonal harmony, plenty of exercises at the end of each chapter to apply what you've learnt.

Harmony - Anna Butterworth A good book for those who find the wording in texts by Piston/other composers too hard to understand. Has exercises throughout the book to apply what you've learnt.

Structural functions of Harmony - Schoenberg

Composition

Fundamentals of musical composition - Schoenberg - A great book that covers writing from the smallest motif to extended forms. Most of the examples are from Beethoven sonatas which is a little annoying, but a good book none the less.

20th Century Composition

20th Century Harmony - Persichetti

The Technique of My Musical Language - Messiaen

Orchestration

Orchestration (3rd edition) - Samuel Adler - Pretty much the standard orchestration book, usually the primary text for orchestration courses.

Instrumentation and Orchestration - Blatter - Recommended by Jazz_rock_feel

Orchestration - Piston - A little outdated, but a good book none the less.

Orchestration - Cecil Forsyth - Has a handy chart of all instruments ranges at written and sounding pitch as well as the clefs used.

Last edited by griffRG7321 : 07-30-2012 at 10:56 AM.
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Old 06-21-2012, 12:05 PM   #2
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Notation

Music Notation - Gardner Read - An amazing book that goes through standard notation for each group of instruments. Touches on more modern notational ideas, but a bit lacking, which is actually to its credit because modern notation conventions have changed since it was written. Overall, virtually any notation you see in this book will be 100% acceptable.

Music Notation in the 20th Century - Kurt Stone
- A little better for 20th century techniques, but at this point a bit outdated so some of the "modern standards" aren't really standards, but still very good.

Behind Bars - Elaine Gould
- This is unarguably the best notation book today. It is more exhaustive than either of the above and is the top of its class. It is definitely a reference book however, as it's well over 600 pages. If you want something to read through to get a good grasp of basic notational practice, this is not for you (I recommend Read for that). It even touches on engraving techniques, although in less detail than the text below.

Music Engraving Today: The Art and Practice of Digital Notesetting - Steven Powell
- This is THE best book I've found for the minutiae of engraving. It's not about notation so much as making your scores look professional. It's the only engraving book made since personal computers became viable engraving tools (last edited 2007, and actually in need of an update) and as such is the only really practical engraving book I've seen. It goes over things like paper weights and dimensions, margins, vertical and horizontal spacing, proofreading, editing, etc.




I know you already have it on the list, but if someone's actually interested in modal counterpoint (I'm not sure why you would be, but that's a discussion for another day ) I highly recommend Peter Schubert's Modal Counterpoint, Renaissance Style over the Fux. Fux's book is okay, but doesn't really have any exercises beyond writing above a c.f. whereas Schubert's is much easier to learn more organic writing from, while still giving you the rundown on species counterpoint.

Also, Kostka and Payne's Tonal Harmony is a great book and kind of the more modern "standard" which used to be Piston.
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Last edited by jazz_rock_feel : 03-23-2013 at 10:06 AM.
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Old 06-21-2012, 12:35 PM   #3
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Erm...because renaissance polyphony is awesome?

I'll have to check out those books next time I'm in the Library.
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Old 06-21-2012, 01:03 PM   #4
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You don't like the dialogue in Fux's book Griff?

I enjoyed it, gave it kind of a "greek" feel.... lol
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Old 06-21-2012, 01:56 PM   #5
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It's funner if you swap Joesephus and Aloysius with other names...


Mario 'Big Dawg' Williams: "I come to you, venerable master, in order to be introduced to the rules and principles of music"

Barbeesha Latoya Jackson: "Awh hell naw mutha fuka, u wanna learn da art of composition all up in here?

Mario 'Big Dawg' Williams: "Dayum right hoe"

Barbeesha Latoya Jackson: "U trippin' all over ma ass fool"

Mario 'Big Dawg' Williams: "Guuuuuuurl"
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Old 06-21-2012, 01:59 PM   #6
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The dialog was the best part of that book
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Old 06-21-2012, 02:34 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by griffRG7321
It's funner if you swap Joesephus and Aloysius with other names...


Mario 'Big Dawg' Williams: "I come to you, venerable master, in order to be introduced to the rules and principles of music"

Barbeesha Latoya Jackson: "Awh hell naw mutha fuka, u wanna learn da art of composition all up in here?

Mario 'Big Dawg' Williams: "Dayum right hoe"

Barbeesha Latoya Jackson: "U trippin' all over ma ass fool"

Mario 'Big Dawg' Williams: "Guuuuuuurl"

I... I wish I could sig this...
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Old 06-21-2012, 03:53 PM   #8
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I've always been a huge fan of Peter fiscer's rock guitar secrets.
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Old 06-21-2012, 04:09 PM   #9
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I'd add:
Orchestration:


Hector Berlioz - Grand Treatise on Instrumentation and Modern Orchestration
link

Rimsky-Korsakov - Priciples of Orchestration
link


imslp has some great free theory books, I also like Tschaikowskij's book on harmony on there and Schönebergs huge "Harmonielehre". that one is in german though.
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Old 06-21-2012, 04:19 PM   #10
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Those are both what I would call not very good orchestration books. They're really outdated, and while they're by two of the best orchestrators ever, a large portion of what makes an orchestration book useful is finding out what an instrument can and can't do, and knowing about a 19thC. trumpet is not that useful. I have the Berlioz book and I literally NEVER use it because the information is largely irrelevant instrumentation-wise and the concepts of extended techniques and that sort of thing are simply non-existent.

The two standards for orchestration now are Adler and Blatter, and those are the two I would look at. The names aren't as sexy as Berlioz or Korsakov, but they're all around better books for today's composer and even those are decades old.
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Old 06-21-2012, 04:40 PM   #11
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Yeah, I use Adler, occasionally I'll whip out the Piston book if I can't be bothered to open the Adler Pdf.

Orchestration - Cecil Forsyth has a handy chart of all instruments and ranges at written and sounding pitch. I've not read the main bulk of the book though so I can't really comment on the rest of it.
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Old 06-21-2012, 05:01 PM   #12
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i really need to go to a library and get some of these rather than leeching off the local HS's textbooks
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Old 06-21-2012, 06:15 PM   #13
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No love for Schenkerian Analysis?
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Old 06-21-2012, 06:19 PM   #14
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Certainly not with me.
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Old 06-22-2012, 02:50 AM   #15
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This should be stickied. I shall get ahold of some of these books. You know... Since the music school doesn't wasn't me, I'LL GO ROUGE!!!! ROUGE YOU HEAR ME!!!!!
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I can write a coherent tune ... But 3/4? I play rock, not polka.
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Old 06-22-2012, 08:27 AM   #16
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How dramatic. Except:

Rouge



Rogue


The fact that you're going to go "rouge" is just disturbing.
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Old 06-22-2012, 11:36 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by jazz_rock_feel
How dramatic. Except:

Rouge



The fact that you're going to go "rouge" is just disturbing.


Maybe he's starting an 80s hair metal band, therefore "going rouge"?
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Old 06-22-2012, 11:36 AM   #18
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I thought it looked funny....
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Old 06-22-2012, 01:32 PM   #19
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Despite the goofy titles, I keep recommending "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Music Composition" and "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Solos and Improvisation" because they're both excellent introductory texts. "Music Composition", especially, has great chapters on creating chord progressions and constructing melodies.
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Old 06-22-2012, 05:25 PM   #20
griffRG7321
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I've updated the list to include orchestration texts.


Quote:
Originally Posted by jazz_rock_feel
I have the Berlioz book and I literally NEVER use it because the information is largely irrelevant instrumentation-wise and the concepts of extended techniques and that sort of thing are simply non-existent.



I had a read of that in the library in between lectures last year and promptly put it back on the shelf.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Keth
No love for Schenkerian Analysis?


Meh, Nicholas Cook's analysis book has a chapter on that if I remember correctly, I might add that to the list.

Last edited by griffRG7321 : 06-22-2012 at 05:30 PM.
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