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Music Theory for Dummies


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Table of Contents

Introduction 1 About This Book 1 Foolish Assumptions 2 Icons Used in This Book 3 Beyond the Book 3 Where to Go from Here 3 Part 1: Getting Started with Music Theory 5 Chapter 1: What Is Music Theory, Anyway? 7 Unearthing Music Theory's Beginnings 8 Putting the Spotlight on Music Theory Fundamentals 9 Understanding the foundation: Notes, rests, and beats 9 Manipulating and combining notes 9 Studying musical form and compositions 11 Seeing How Theory Can Help Your Music 11 Chapter 2: Determining What Notes Are Worth 13 Meeting the Beat 14 Recognizing Notes and Note Values 15 Examining the notes and their components 15 Looking at note values 17 Checking Out Whole (Semibreve) Notes 18 Homing in on Half (Minim) Notes 19 Considering Quarter (Crotchet) Notes 20 Examining Eighth (Quaver) Notes and Beyond 20 Extending Notes with Dots and Ties 22 Using dots to increase a note's value 22 Adding notes together with ties 23 Mixing All the Note Values Together 23 Chapter 3: Giving It a Rest 27 Getting to Know the Rests 28 Whole (semibreve) rests 28 Half (minim) rests 29 Quarter (crotchet) rests 30 Eighth (quaver) rests and beyond 30 Extending the Break with Dotted Rests 32 Practicing Beats with Notes and Rests 32 Chapter 4: Introducing Time Signatures 35 Decoding Time Signatures and Measures 35 Keeping Things Easy with Simple Time Signatures 37 Using measures to count in simple time 38 Practicing counting beats in simple time 40 Working with Compound Time Signatures 41 Using measures to count in compound time 42 Practicing counting beats in compound time 43 Feeling the Pulse of Asymmetrical Time Signatures 44 A Short Discussion about Conducting 46 The beat 47 Phrasing, articulation, and dynamics 49 Cueing 49 Chapter 5: Playing with Beat 51 Creating Stress Patterns and Syncopation 51 Placing stress: Knowing the general rules 52 Syncopation: Hitting the off-beat 52 Getting a Jump on Pick-Up Notes 54 Exploring Irregular Rhythms: Triplets and Duplets 55 Adding interest with triplets 56 Working with duplets 57 Part 2: Putting Notes Together 59 Chapter 6: Music Notes (and Where to Find Them) 61 Meeting the Staff, Clefs, and Notes 62 The treble clef 63 The bass clef 63 The grand staff and middle C 64 C clefs: Alto and tenor 64 Identifying Half Steps, Whole Steps, and Accidentals 65 Working with half steps 66 Taking whole steps 68 Changing pitch with accidentals 70 Finding the Notes on the Piano and the Guitar 72 Looking for notes on the piano 73 Picking out notes on the guitar 73 Using Mnemonics to Help Remember Notes 75 Chapter 7: Mastering the Major and Minor Scales 77 Following Major-Scale Patterns 78 Working with major scales on piano and guitar 79 Listening to the major scales 82 Discovering All That Minor Scale Patterns Have to Offer 82 Playing natural minor scales on piano and guitar 83 Having fun with harmonic minor scales on piano and guitar 84 Making great music with melodic minor scales on piano and guitar 86 Listening to the minor scales 88 Chapter 8: Key Signatures and the Circle of Fifths 91 Understanding the Circle of Fifths and Recognizing Major Key Signatures 92 Sharps: Father Charles Goes Down and Ends Battle 93 Flats: Battle Ends and Down Goes Charles's Father 94 Finding Minor Key Signatures and Relative Minors 95 Visualizing the Key Signatures 96 C major and A natural minor 96 G major and E natural minor 97 D major and B natural minor 97 A major and F sharp natural minor 98 E major and C sharp natural minor 98 B/C flat major and G sharp/A flat natural minor 99 F sharp/G flat major and D sharp/E flat natural minor 99 C sharp major/D flat and A sharp/B flat natural minor 100 A flat major and F natural minor 101 E flat major and C natural minor 101 B flat major and G natural minor 101 F major and D natural minor 102 Chapter 9: Intervals: The Distance between Pitches 103 Breaking Down Harmonic and Melodic Intervals 104 Quantity: Counting lines and spaces 104 Quality: Considering half steps 106 Naming intervals 107 Looking at Unisons, Octaves, Fourths, and Fifths 107 Perfect unisons 108 Augmented unisons 108 Octaves 108 Fourths 110 Fifths 111 Recognizing Seconds, Thirds, Sixths, and Sevenths 112 Seconds 112 Thirds 115 Sixths and sevenths 117 Building Intervals 117 Determining quantity 118 Establishing the quality 118 Showing Major and Perfect Intervals in the C Major Scale 120 Checking Out Compound Intervals 121 Creating a compound interval 121 Returning a compound to its simple state 122 The Nashville Number System 123 Chapter 10: Chord Building 127 Creating Triads with Three Pitches 128 Roots, thirds, and fifths 128 Major triads 130 Minor triads 132 Augmented triads 133 Diminished triads 135 Expanding to Seventh Chords 136 Major sevenths 137 Minor sevenths 138 Dominant sevenths 139 Minor 7 flat 5 chords 139 Diminished sevenths 140 Minor-major sevenths 141 Looking at All the Triads and Sevenths 141 A 142 A flat 142 B 142 B flat 143 C 143 C flat 143 C sharp 144 D 144 D flat 145 E 145 E flat 145 F 146 F sharp 146 G 146 G flat 147 Manipulating Triads through Voicing and Inversion 147 Taking a look at open and close voicing 147 Identifying inverted chords 148 Exploring Extended Chords 150 Ninth chords 151 Minor ninth chords 152 Major ninth chords 152 Ninth augmented fifth chords 153 Ninth flatted fifth chord 153 Seventh flat ninth piano chords 154 Augmented ninth chords 154 Eleventh chords 154 Thirteenth chords 156 Chapter 11: Chord Progressions 159 Reviewing Diatonic Chords, Chromatic Chords, and Minor Scale Modes 160 Identifying and Naming Chord Progressions 161 Assigning chord names and numbers 161 Looking at chord progressions in major keys 162 Checking out chord progressions in minor keys 164 Adding a Seventh Chord to a Triad 165 Seeing (and Hearing) Chord Progressions in Action 167 Applying Chord Knowledge to Fake Books and Tabs 169 Modulating to a New Key 170 Reaching a Musical Cadence through Chord Progressions 170 Authentic cadences 172 Plagal cadences 173 Deceptive cadences 175 Half-cadence 175 Part 3: Musical Expression through Tempo and Dynamics 177 Chapter 12: Creating Varied Sound through Tempo and Dynamics 179 Taking the Tempo of Music 180 Establishing a universal tempo: The minim 180 Keeping steady time with a metronome 181 Translating tempo notation 181 Speeding up and slowing down: Changing the tempo 183 Dealing with Dynamics: Loud and Soft 183 Modifying phrases 184 Checking out other dynamic markings 185 Examining the piano pedal dynamics 186 Looking at the articulation markings for other instruments 188 Chapter 13: Instrument Tone Color and Acoustics 191 Delving into Tone Color 192 Attack: Checking out the beginning sound of a note 192 Timbre: Hearing the body of a note 193 Decay: Listening for the final sound of a note 194 Building the Band: An Acoustics Lesson 195 Part 4: Musical Expression through Form 197 Chapter 14: The Building Blocks of Music: Rhythm, Melody, Harmony, and Song Form 199 Establishing Rhythm 200 Shaping the Melody 201 Complementing the Melody with Harmony 203 Working with Musical Phrases and Periods 204 Linking Musical Parts to Create Forms 206 One-part form (A) 207 Binary form (AB) 207 Three-part form (ABA) 207 Arch form (ABCBA) 209 Chapter 15: Relying on Classical Forms 211 Counterpoint as a Classical Revelation 211 Sussing Out the Sonata 212 Starting with the exposition 213 Moving on to something new: Development 214 Taking a rest with recapitulation 214 Rounding Up the Rondo 215 Figuring Out the Fugue 216 Combining Forms into a Symphony 217 Observing Other Classical Forms 218 Concerto 219 Duet 219 Etude 219 Fantasia 219 Chapter 16: Tapping into Popular Genres and Forms 221 Feeling the Blues 222 12-bar blues 222 8-bar blues 224 16-bar blues 224 24-bar blues 224 32-bar blues ballads and country 225 Having Fun with Rock and Pop 226 Improvising with Jazz 228 Twelve-Tone Compositions 228 Part 5: The Part of Tens 231 Chapter 17: Ten Frequently Asked Questions about Music Theory 233 Why Is Music Theory Important? 233 If I Can Already Play Some Music, Why Bother Learning Music Theory? 234 Why Is So Much Music Theory Centered on the Piano Keyboard? 234 Is There a Quick and Easy Way to Learn to Read Music? 235 How Do I Identify a Key Based on the Key Signature? 235 Can I Transpose a Piece of Music into Another Key? 236 Will Learning Music Theory Hinder My Ability to Improvise? 236 Do I Need to Know Theory if I Just Play Drums? 237 Where Do the 12 Musical Notes Come From? 237 How Does Knowing Theory Help Me Memorize a Piece of Music? 238 Chapter 18: Ten Keys to Reading a Musical Score 239 The Basics 240 Lead Sheets 240 Full Scores 240 Miniature Scores 240 Study Scores 241 Piano Scores 241 Short Scores 241 Vocal Scores 241 Tablature 242 Figured Bass Notion 242 Chapter 19: Ten Music Theorists You Should Know About 243 Pythagoras (582-507 BC) 243 Boethius (480-524 AD) 244 Gerbert d'Aurillac/Pope Sylvester II (950-1003) 245 Guido D'Arezzo (990-1040) 246 Nicola Vicentino (1511-1576) 246 Christiaan Huygens (1629-1695) 247 Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951) 247 Harry Partch (1901-1974) 248 Karlheinz Stockhausen (1928-2007) 249 Robert Moog (1934-2005) 249 Chapter 20: Ten Musical Movements That Changed History 251 800 AD - England, Gregorian Chant 251 1100 AD - Organum/European Polyphony 252 1649 - England, the Diggers 253 17th Century: Italy, Opera 254 1789-1799: The French Revolution 255 1913 - Atonal Music and Igor Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring" 255 1950-1990: Latin America and the Iberian Peninsula, "Nueva Cancion" (the New Song Movement) 256 1960s: U.S Civil Rights Movement 257 1980s: Estonia Singing Revolution 258 2010-2012: Arab Spring 259 Part 6: Appendixes 261 Appendix A: Audio Tracks 263 Appendix B: Chord Chart 267 Appendix C: Glossary 305 Index 309

About the Author

Michael Pilhofer, MM, holds a Master's in Music Education with a Jazz Emphasis from the Eastman School of Music, and a Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Performance from the University of Miami. Holly Day's work has appeared in Guitar One Magazine, Music Alive!, culturefront Magazine, and Brutarian Magazine.

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