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Music Theory For Dummies, 4th Edition

Michael Pilhofer, Holly Day

ISBN: 978-1-118-99094-0 March 2015 336 Pages

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Tune in to how music really works 

Whether you’re a student, a performer, or simply a fan, this book makes music theory easy, providing you with a friendly guide to the concepts, artistry, and technical mastery that underlie the production of great music. You’ll quickly become fluent in the fundamentals of knocking out beats, reading scores, and anticipating where a piece should go, giving you a deeper perspective on the works of others — and bringing an extra dimension to your own. 

Tracking to a typical college-level course, Music Theory For Dummies breaks difficult concepts down to manageable chunks and takes into account every aspect of musical production and appreciation — from the fundamentals of notes and scales to the complexities of expression and instrument tone color. It also examines the latest teaching techniques — all the more important as the study of music, now shown to provide cognitive and learning benefits for both children and adults, becomes more prevalent at all levels.

  • Master major and minor scales, intervals, pitches, and clefs
  • Understand basic notation, time signals, tempo, dynamics, and navigation
  • Employ melodies, chords, progressions, and phrases to form music
  • Compose harmonies and accompanying melodies for voice and instruments

Wherever you want to go musically — as a writer or performer, or just as someone who wants to enjoy music to its fullest — this approachable guide gives you everything you need to hear!

Introduction 1

Part I: Getting Started with Music Theory 5

Chapter 1: What Is Music Theory, Anyway? 7

Chapter 2: Determining What Notes Are Worth 13

Chapter 3: Giving It a Rest 29

Chapter 4: Introducing Time Signatures 39

Chapter 5: Playing with Beat 53

Part II: Putting Notes Together 61

Chapter 6: Music Notes (And Where to Find Them) 63

Chapter 7: Mastering the Major and Minor Scales 81

Chapter 8: Key Signatures and the Circle of Fifths 95

Chapter 9: Intervals: The Distance Between Pitches 109

Chapter 10: Chord Building 135

Chapter 11: Chord Progressions 169

Part III: Musical Expression through Tempo and Dynamics 187

Chapter 12: Creating Varied Sound through Tempo and Dynamics 189

Chapter 13: Instrument Tone Color and Acoustics 201

Part IV: Musical Expression through Form 207

Chapter 14: The Building Blocks of Music: Rhythm, Melody, Harmony, and Song Form 209

Chapter 15: Relying on Classical Forms 221

Chapter 16: Tapping Into Popular Genres and Forms 231

Part V: The Part of Tens 239

Chapter 17: Ten Frequently Asked Questions about Music Theory 241

Chapter 18: Ten Keys to Reading a Musical Score 247

Chapter 19: Ten Music Theorists You Should Know About 251

Part VI: Appendixes 259

Appendix A: Audio Tracks 261

Appendix B: Chord Chart 267

Appendix C: Glossary 305

Index 309