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Advice on some books (Read 2974 times)

Offline agnor

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Advice on some books
« on: February 02, 2009, 04:10:50 PM »
Hi, I'm looking for some books on music theory.

I've completed the Musical Formation third grade at Oporto Music Conservatory, 4 years ago. What I learned there was: musical notation, rhythm patterns, intervals, how to form major and minor (natural, harmonic, melodic) scales, major/minor/aug/dim triads and triads inversions. I've also had lots of ear training (recognizing chords, scales, intervals, rhythm and melodic dictations and sight-reading/singing in different clefs).

With this training I believe I have a very strong foundation on the basics of music theory. However, I would like to enroll on a music theory course in the future, specializing on Composition and Orchestral Conducting (I would like to compose music for orchestra, actually :P ), so the basics won't be enough.

So, I'm looking for books on Harmony, Voice Leading, Counterpoint, whatever-you-think-would help. I'm not including orchestration or form composition books, because I think they should be used after learning harmony/counterpoint. The books should be comprehensive and complete (well, the most they can be), and with examples/exercises (for self-study).

I've already browsed the forums and the internet for books that would suit me, and I reached the following conclusions:

Books I'm considering:

- The Musician's Guide to Theory and Analysis, by Jane Piper Clendinning, Elizabeth West Marvin
- Tonal Harmony, by Stefan Kostka, Dorothy Payne
- The Complete Musician: An Integrated Approach to Tonal Theory, Analysis, and Listening, by Steven G. Laitz
- Harmony and Voice Leading, by Edward Aldwell, Carl Schachter

I've left out Harmony, by Walter Piston because some reviews said that it was too heavy. I'm more inclined towards the first book (The Musician's Guide to Theory and Analysis), it looks perfect for self-study.

Feel free to recommend more books and give your piece of advice about the one (or two if really needed, the books are expensive) I should buy.

Thanks.

Offline Petter

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Re: Advice on some books
«Reply #1 on: February 02, 2009, 04:29:33 PM »
I use tonal harmony and I like it but I never worked my way through all of it.
 
You can get a CD for the music examples. The preface states that how reading about music without hearing it isnīt only dull, but also uninformative.  8)
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Offline general disarray

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Re: Advice on some books
«Reply #2 on: February 02, 2009, 04:52:50 PM »
Bernhard, our resident Yoda and all-around musical fun-zone, has recommended W.A. Mathieu's "Harmonic Experience:  Tonal Harmony from its Natural Origins to its Modern Expression."

It is, without one single doubt, the finest book on harmony you will ever read.  It has a revolutionary approach.

Trust me.  This book is a winner . . . and a big hug to Bernhard for alerting me to its existence!

(Go on Amazon.com and read the rave reviews.) 
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Offline agnor

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Re: Advice on some books
«Reply #3 on: February 02, 2009, 05:01:45 PM »
I've also read about "Harmonic Experience". The reviews left a good impression about the book. But one particular review said the book was good for someone already experienced in harmony, or for those who want to learn why music sounds good. He said that the book is more "spiritual" than scientifical (which should be the strongest/weakest point of this book).

If you assure me that this book covers the same ground has a traditional harmony book/course should cover I will favour it. However, if this is an only an enlightement for someone who have already learned harmony, it's not what I'm looking for.

Thanks for the comments so far!

Offline general disarray

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Re: Advice on some books
«Reply #4 on: February 02, 2009, 05:11:42 PM »
I've also read about "Harmonic Experience". The reviews left a good impression about the book. But one particular review said the book was good for someone already experienced in harmony, or for those who want to learn why music sounds good. He said that the book is more "spiritual" than scientifical (which should be the strongest/weakest point of this book).

If you assure me that this book covers the same ground has a traditional harmony book/course should cover I will favour it. However, if this is an only an enlightement for someone who have already learned harmony, it's not what I'm looking for.

Thanks for the comments so far!

Hmmm.  Well, it's quite "scientific," but it DOES assume a solid theory/harmony background and it re-frames the old stodgy teaching in a way that makes the subject come to life. I think it is superior to almost everything out there, which is dry as dust and not very illuminating as to why pitches/tones affect us in the way they do. 

Dunno. You sound prepared, but it is pricey and you might want to get a library copy first, just to see.
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Offline agnor

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Re: Advice on some books
«Reply #5 on: February 02, 2009, 07:48:48 PM »
What I meant was that the "Harmonic Experience" book seems to tell "why" instead of "how" harmony works.

Will the book also teach me "rules" (it could explain them in other words) I should know to enroll a composition/analysis course, or I would do better with another book? Maybe if I bought two books?

Actually, the book is relatively cheap in the UK (25Ģ), my budget would allow another book along with this one (not kostka's, that's 40Ģ), or maybe I could buy one book first and the other later...

Offline Petter

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Re: Advice on some books
«Reply #6 on: February 02, 2009, 08:00:33 PM »
I actually only use my book as support for my foot while pedaling now. :-[ Itīs very straightforward and thereīs working examples that enquirers you to think a great deal. Itīs more "how then why" with illustrating examples from classical works. Havenīt read the other book so I canīt compare.
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Offline Karli

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Re: Advice on some books
«Reply #7 on: February 02, 2009, 08:16:30 PM »
.

Offline agnor

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Re: Advice on some books
«Reply #8 on: February 02, 2009, 11:39:44 PM »
Quote
I like the approach and I tend to think similarly to how they present the material, so that is helpful.  It's laid out nicely and the organization makes sense, making the concepts easy to focus on and grasp.

That were exactly what I thought when I read the Table of Contents of the book, that I found on the book website (I also found small overviews of each chapter on the numbered bar below the website logo, at the top of the page). Also, the language and exercises are very "up to date" (I saw an example with "America" from "West Side Story").

The only reason I haven't bought it already was the lack of reviews on the book. If someone experienced with harmony could give his insights on the book (Is it complete, is it accurate?), it would be much appreciated.

Also, Karli, is the workbook really necessary (does the main book provide some exercises?). And what is the anthology about? More examples?

Offline agnor

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Re: Advice on some books
«Reply #9 on: February 02, 2009, 11:58:06 PM »
Also, I'm reconsidering "Harmony" by Walter Piston and "Theory of Harmony" by Schoenberg.

The reasons are because they are more traditional and "conservatory safe" than the others. However, if they don't have examples/exercises, or if they are too dense and dull, I may prefer another book...

Offline allemande

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Re: Advice on some books
«Reply #10 on: April 23, 2009, 04:40:00 PM »
I would recommend the Piston book as well as the Schoenberg one. There is a book on Harmony by Diether de la Motte which I recommend as well.

Offline keyofc

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Re: Advice on some books
«Reply #11 on: February 23, 2010, 05:22:06 AM »
Theory of harmony - by Schoenberg

It's been awhile since I've read it -
but I thought it was very dull and nothing
with hands on application -
anyone disagree?

Offline point of grace

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Re: Advice on some books
«Reply #12 on: February 23, 2010, 05:12:18 PM »
I would recommend the Piston book as well as the Schoenberg one. There is a book on Harmony by Diether de la Motte which I recommend as well.
i used Piston, worked really well on me
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Offline prometheus

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Re: Advice on some books
«Reply #13 on: May 01, 2010, 03:27:53 AM »
Schoenberg's book is very hands on as it tells you to go to the piano (or Finale/Sibelius) and compose exercises right away.

It is also very philosophical. Schoenberg kind of rambles but he is also very careful on how he puts things, and the translation does it justice. He questions rules and dogmas and explains the reasons for the guidelines he puts up. And he keeps repeating they are guidelines and not rules.

In a sense it's quite classical and strict compared to his music. It stays very basic and focuses quite specifically on harmony and some voice leading. But it's not a counterpoint book.

If you are a beginner to harmony and you want more then just blunt rules it's quite good. Yeah it's dull but only in a sense that he doesn't try to excite you. If you don't care for the subject for it's own sake, you won't finish it for sure. If you do then being able to read Schoenberg's own (translated) words as he talks about harmony  in itself is good enough.

I do think it's a bit lacking in examples and it doesn't have real summaries(which is made worse by Schoenberg's style).
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Offline prometheus

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Re: Advice on some books
«Reply #14 on: May 01, 2010, 03:29:58 AM »
Ooh wow this topic is old. Didn't realize this place is so dead nowadays...
"As an artist you don't rake in a million marks without performing some sacrifice on the Altar of Art." -Franz Liszt

Offline keyofc

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Re: Advice on some books
«Reply #15 on: May 06, 2010, 09:49:50 PM »
guess you're right!

Sometimes I never get replies - so it hardly matters to me when it was posted.
:)

Thanks for your input - you're probably a lot smarter than me.
I'll have to try looking at it again - just for the heck of it.
Seemed like it just didn't start where I needed it.
That was a while ago though....

in any case -thanks!


Offline prometheus

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Re: Advice on some books
«Reply #16 on: May 09, 2010, 04:00:28 PM »
Well, what do you need to know?

You can make a book that just lists rules, nothing else, and then makes you do exercises. Schoenberg is being awfully longwinded and doesn't try to make the subject less 'dull'. That's for sure.

There's also structural functions of harmony. It is very dense and more advances. It's probably useless if you are writing anything else than a sonata or symphony because it's about structuring advanced harmony. You have advanced harmony in jazz, but you deliberately don't structure it. You have structure in many other kinds of music but it's never advanced harmony.

I imagine all the new books nowadays come with CDs. I think that will be quite a help as putting the examples to music yourself, or finding the examples, takes quite some time.
"As an artist you don't rake in a million marks without performing some sacrifice on the Altar of Art." -Franz Liszt