Music Theory Books: Guide
Welcome to BooksAboutMusic.Org. This is the subpage for music theory books, referring to the different publications on music theory. Why study music from a theoretical perspective? Isn’t that just to take away all the fun? Actually, once you get to know your music theory, you will find that you will enjoy your experiences of music even more than before. Also, if you are a practicing musician, knowledge of theory is invaluable.
This category is divided into three subcategories, both according to field of knowledge, and to level of knowledge:
Theory for beginners | More advanced theory | Tonal harmony
Music theory books for beginners
If you want to learn music theory on your own, and thus maybe brush up a little on something that you might have learnt a long time ago in school, the best way is actually to get a good book. Sure, there are some online guides out there, but I personally tend to find it hard to reach the proper level of self-disciplin when on the Internet. The World Wide Web also offers so much distraction – fun is usually just a click away!
My best advice when it comes to learning music theory is therefore to turn off the computer, and sit down with your own book, in which you can write as many notes as you can without anyone complaining. Make yourself a plan, say, you read about two chapters every evening. This is how I, aided by my own panicking, learnt tonal harmony for an advanced university course.
There are some books on music theory, which really are illustrative and easy to follow.
More advanced theory
One thing you’ll learn about music theory, especially if you start studying music at Uni, is that it always gets more advanced. No matter how much you think you know. When you get to the point where you consider yourself knowledgeable enough, you’ll soon find that doubly augmented fourth chords can have second cousins too. Learning music theory is, however, a gateway to understanding all kinds of music better. Not only classical music. You can learn to identify all sorts of things going on in a popular song, and say to yourself “that’s smart”, or “that’s predictable”. Moreover, the more theory you learn, the more open you tend to be towards more “difficult music” (that music which will initially make you want to turn your ears off).
Books on tonal harmony
This subcategory is quite close to the above one. However, the literature on harmony tends to take knowledge for granted to a greater extent than books that claim to be about music theory. Learning about harmony is the gateway to making practically any music based on tonality more exciting to listen to. These books should of course be considered music theory books just like the above, but I do not recommend you buy any of them before you feel that you’ve reached a rather high level of theory knowledge.