Is there a really good book, like something considered the "bible" of music theory that would be recommended for a self-taught musician? Particularly if it helps with composition?

I've read that people in real music programs have tests they have to pass periodically, and I guess I'd like to sort of learn the same kind of things so that, theoretically, I could pass such tests (though I don't plan to ever formally take them). Ultimately, I want to know what a classical composer would know, even if it takes a decade.

I've been teaching myself music theory and guitar for about two years. Actually, I think I've made more headway on music theory than guitar technique. I've made all sorts of charts for myself on scales, inversions, chords, keys, by reading stuff on the internet then regurgitating it in a way that seems to make sense to me (since I find that if I can say it in my own words, I've really learned it). I sort of feel like I've hit a plateau, as I keep finding that I am out of my depth reading more advanced music theory articles.

I think I'd like to learn to compose classical / orchestral type pieces one day, and I'd like to start studying music theory in a more diligent fashion, though I'm not ready to enroll in school for it or anything.


I'd recommend 'Tonal Harmony' by Kotska and Payne. Make sure you get the CD that goes with it. I'd also recommend Auralia (Ear Training Program) as well as taking some Basic Piano (It makes theory a lot easier imo).

Ear Training is a really essential part of music theory.
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Tonal Harmony isn't too bad, but if you want a book on composition or 2 get The Study of Counterpoint (it is Gradus Ad Parnassum) and The Fundamentals of Musical Composition by Arnold Schoenberg. I swear by both those books.