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griffRG7321
Theory buff
Join date: Sep 2007
999 IQ
#1
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Orchestration - Piston - A little outdated, but a good book none the less.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 at Jul 30, 2012,
jazz_rock_feel
UG Resident
Join date: Jun 2006
2,342 IQ
#2
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.
Last edited by jazz_rock_feel at Mar 23, 2013,
griffRG7321
Theory buff
Join date: Sep 2007
999 IQ
#3
Erm...because renaissance polyphony is awesome?

I'll have to check out those books next time I'm in the Library.
mrkeka
Lost in Translation
Join date: Aug 2006
195 IQ
#4
You don't like the dialogue in Fux's book Griff?

I enjoyed it, gave it kind of a "greek" feel.... lol
Quote by Xiaoxi
The Byzantine scale was useful until the Ottoman scale came around and totally annihilated it.
griffRG7321
Theory buff
Join date: Sep 2007
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#5
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"
DiminishedFifth
Absolute Imperfection
Join date: Nov 2008
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#7
Quote 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...
505088K
Drekkenbrein
Join date: Nov 2008
127 IQ
#9
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.
jazz_rock_feel
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#10
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.
griffRG7321
Theory buff
Join date: Sep 2007
999 IQ
#11
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.
Hail
i'm a mean bully
Join date: Jan 2010
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#12
masochism: anything by schillinger

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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Hail killed MT

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vampirelazarus
the one with four strings
Join date: Oct 2010
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#15
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!!!!!
Understand nothing, in order to learn everything.

Quote by liampje
I can write a coherent tune ... But 3/4? I play rock, not polka.
mrkeka
Lost in Translation
Join date: Aug 2006
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#17
Quote 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"?
Quote by Xiaoxi
The Byzantine scale was useful until the Ottoman scale came around and totally annihilated it.
vampirelazarus
the one with four strings
Join date: Oct 2010
88 IQ
#18
I thought it looked funny....
Understand nothing, in order to learn everything.

Quote by liampje
I can write a coherent tune ... But 3/4? I play rock, not polka.
CarsonStevens
Rocksmith
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688 IQ
#19
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.
griffRG7321
Theory buff
Join date: Sep 2007
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#20
I've updated the list to include orchestration texts.


Quote 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 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 at Jun 22, 2012,
jazz_rock_feel
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#21
Quote by griffRG7321

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

It's more of a historical document at this point than anything else.

These are a bit more specialized, but notation books are extremely useful. Gardner Read's Music Notation is amazing, Kurt Stone's Music Notation in the 20th Century is quality (I don't own it, but have used it) and a really good one for me is Music Engraving Today: The Art and Practice of Digital Notesetting by Steven Powell which is less about how to notate and more about the minutiae of setting a score, with standard dimensions, paper weights, margins, proofreading and editing etc. It's also the only engraving book made since the PC was invented.
griffRG7321
Theory buff
Join date: Sep 2007
999 IQ
#22
At the risk of running out of space I'm thinking you could edit those into your first post in this thread seeing as it's the second post and I forgot to reserve posts like the clumsy fool that I am
Last edited by griffRG7321 at Jun 22, 2012,
xxdarrenxx
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Join date: Jan 2006
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#24
I've got 2 nice books, but they are both written by dutch Conservatory graduates, and are not available in English

1 book is purely on harmony, and goes from basic harmony all the way up to the augmented 6th chords and their uses and basic counterpoint.

The other is a complete small dictionary, with a history on music, and a complete glossary of music terms in English German and Italian. This book also puts jazz and classical side to side at the subjects to compare notation, and stylistic ornamentations etc.

It also has info on old dances and musical forms like the beguine, musette, gaillarde krakowiak, loure, passacaglia, pavane, berceuse etc.

Also, the Jazz theory book by Mark Levine is a nice book to go through, if only for the notated repertoire of many known and unknown jazz greats.

The "Re-incarnation of Plato" Award 2009
(most intelligent)
The "Good Samaritan" Award 2009 (most helpful)

[font="Palatino Linotype
Who's Andy Timmons??
Last edited by xxdarrenxx at Aug 5, 2012,
tehREALcaptain
Registered User
Join date: Feb 2007
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#25
heres my shortish list of stuff I've used for myself/taught (definitly not finished everything, or even a majority of this stuff, but most of it can be gotten online for free and then leafed through at your leasure).

general guitar
the advancing guitarist
a modern method for guitar (all three)
solo guitar playing (the Noad book)
the aaron shearer technique supplements (used in small doses)
Technique of the saxophone: Scale and chord studies (joe viola, great studies for ear-hand co-ordination on any instrument).

reading
rhythms complete by bugs brouwer/melodic rhythms for guitar
bop duets by bugs brouwer
the Dufrense sightreading book
Sight reading for guitar 1 and 2 (William Leavitt)
Wolfhart and Kreutzer violin etudes, and Arbans charecteristic studies (dont buy the whole book, but you can probably find them on IMSLP).

jazz and theory stuff
The Jazz Theory Book
How to Play Jazz and Improvise and some other Aebersolds (specifically getting it together, the jazz ear training book and the one on Dominant cycles)
Linear Harmony and Comprehensive technique for jazz musicians (both Bert Ligon)
Hal Crooks How to Improvise/comp
Contemporary Harmony-Romantism through the 12 tone row (Ludmilla Uhela)
Hearing and Writing Music
Micky Baker's course in jazz guitar (great for getting off the ground with jazz, though very very basic and old school)
Three note voicings for guitar (a more modern method that still starts very basic. goes well with the micky baker text)
all the best.
(insert self-aggrandizing quote here)
Sleepy__Head
A cornucopia of trivia
Join date: Jul 2011
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#26
If I'm honest I thought Fux was a waste of my time and money (not your fault, btw, I bought him because of all the Amazon recommends - more fool me, huh) - a bit like trying to learn science from an 18th century alchemist. Sure the general thrust of the thing might be there but the explanation was, um, wandering at best.

I mainly learned counterpoint from Schoenberg's "Preliminary Exercises In Counterpoint", Butterworth's information on voice-leading and Gauldin's book (below).

As you said - Schoenberg is fine if you're prepared either to put up with, or get to know soprano, alto and tenor clefs. It's not a modern guide so some of the language is a bit old-fashioned and I remember there being occasional passages where I didn't think it was entirely clear what he meant (although I couldn't quote these to you verbatim) but overall it got the general gist of the idea across and had enough exercises for me to work through what he was saying on my own.

If you're after something a bit more specialised, and a little more focussed on structure rather than the basics of counterpoint, I'd recommend:

Classical
A Practical Approach to Eighteenth-Century Counterpoint - Robert Gauldin. This is more a college text than an introduction but if you want to get to grips with 18th century counterpoint and write in that style it's well worth a read. There are plenty of examples to work through on your own and lots of lovely Bach to wade through.

Composition
Musical Composition - Reginald Smith Brindle. A short and sweet introduction to composition that's great for beginners and a concise reference guide for everyone else.

The Composer's Handbook - Bruce Cole. A guide to composition aimed at children doing their GCSEs. What it lacks in depth it gains in clarity and apposite musical examples.


History of Music

A History of Western Music - J. Peter Burkholder, Donald Grout & Claude Palisca.
Oxford History of Western Music - Richard Taruskin.

Both these books cover the entirety of Western Art music from its beginnings to the modern day. There are varying opinions as to the success of either book - some more partisan than others. My personal opinion is that they are pretty much as good as one another. Either one can be bought with or without its Recorded Anthology containing all the musical examples from the books. Although the recorded anthologies are quite pricey they are far cheaper than trying to buy individual CDs containing the listed items.

Neither book requires much technical knowledge. If you knew nothing about music you could probably read through either (set of) book(s) and obtain a decent understanding of music history.
Quote by Hail
oh shut up with that /mu/ bullshit. fidget house shouldn't even be a genre, why in the world would it deserve its own subgenres you twat
MaddMann274
Ridding sanity
Join date: Sep 2009
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#27
Any of you guys checked out Professional Orchestration by Peter Lawrence Alexander?
Pretty good in my opinion.

Here is a picture of the cover...
Last edited by MaddMann274 at Sep 26, 2012,
Hail
i'm a mean bully
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#28
bach didn't have an emmy
Quote by theogonia777
Hail killed MT

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I want to be Hail when I grow up.
91RG350
At least Microsoft cared
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#29
Quote by Hail
bach didn't have an emmy

He threw a TV out of a window once though... thats pretty rock and roll...pretty "emmy".... isn't it?

We are talking Sebastian Bach, right?
Quote by AlanHB
It's the same as all other harmony. Surround yourself with skulls and candles if it helps.
Sleepy__Head
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#30
Quote by 91RG350
He threw a TV out of a window once though... thats pretty rock and roll...pretty "emmy".... isn't it?

We are talking Sebastian Bach, right?


Yeah, but it won't surprise you to learn that Johann Christian Bach was even worse than his father. A drunk, a womaniser and a low-life. Legend has it he died in the back of a horse-drawn carriage clutching a bottle of whisky and a half-written symphony.
Quote by Hail
oh shut up with that /mu/ bullshit. fidget house shouldn't even be a genre, why in the world would it deserve its own subgenres you twat
91RG350
At least Microsoft cared
Join date: May 2011
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#31
Quote by Sleepy__Head
Yeah, but it won't surprise you to learn that Johann Christian Bach was even worse than his father. A drunk, a womaniser and a low-life. Legend has it he died in the back of a horse-drawn carriage clutching a bottle of whisky and a half-written symphony.


Now THATS rock and roll!
Quote by AlanHB
It's the same as all other harmony. Surround yourself with skulls and candles if it helps.
Sleepy__Head
A cornucopia of trivia
Join date: Jul 2011
54 IQ
#32
Quote 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.


It's OT, but "The Memoirs of Hector Berlioz" is a great read.
Quote by Hail
oh shut up with that /mu/ bullshit. fidget house shouldn't even be a genre, why in the world would it deserve its own subgenres you twat
Sleepy__Head
A cornucopia of trivia
Join date: Jul 2011
54 IQ
#33
Quote by 91RG350
Now THATS rock and roll!


Hank Williams actually.
Quote by Hail
oh shut up with that /mu/ bullshit. fidget house shouldn't even be a genre, why in the world would it deserve its own subgenres you twat
Chronic-Headach
Registered User
Join date: Dec 2012
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#34
the ...For Dummies and Idiots Guides series have been serving me well, along with the Hal Leanord books on notation and theory for guitar
Nietsche
Registered Hoover
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#39
Kent Kennan's Counterpoint is a really good book on 18th century counterpoint. Covers similar ground to the Piston book in terms of melodic shape and melodic and harmonic rhythm, then moving on to two part writing etc, but it encourages idiomatic writing of inventions and fugues beyond simple exercises. Lots of examples given from across the repertoire although Bach is probably the best represented composer.
.