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Music Theory for Dummies

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For people who want a deeper understanding and appreciation of music, or who want to do their own composing and arranging, a basic grounding in music theory is essential. Written for the nearly 30,000


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For people who want a deeper understanding and appreciation of music, or who want to do their own composing and arranging, a basic grounding in music theory is essential. Written for the nearly 30,000

30 review for Music Theory for Dummies

  1. 5 out of 5

    Cass

    I have been taking piano lessons for a month and loving it. As an adult learner I am finding the concepts incredibly interesting and have been keen to get into the theory. My piano teacher asked me to write a tune. It turned out to be a wonderful exercise. I read the book with this tune in mind. As a high school IT teacher I have been asked on occasion to teach beginner Flash to adult learners. I always enjoyed it as they were fun to teach but I could never follow up with an advanced class. It wa I have been taking piano lessons for a month and loving it. As an adult learner I am finding the concepts incredibly interesting and have been keen to get into the theory. My piano teacher asked me to write a tune. It turned out to be a wonderful exercise. I read the book with this tune in mind. As a high school IT teacher I have been asked on occasion to teach beginner Flash to adult learners. I always enjoyed it as they were fun to teach but I could never follow up with an advanced class. It was too hard, the ability levels were all over the place. This book is for musicians with some skills, guitarists and pianists particularly. I found it a good base but some things were extremely detailed and others assumed too much. It was a quick read and I will skim it a bit in the future.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Greg F

    As an aspiring composer, I felt that picking up a dusty copy of “Music Theory for Dummies” out of my garage was a good idea. I was mistaken. The book is a complete waste for an experienced musician, as it sticks to basic concepts such as note values, the circle of fifths, and progressions. For those who are not familiar with such concepts, researching and applying information found on the internet is far more effective, as no money is lost and a wider range of advice is received. I would only r As an aspiring composer, I felt that picking up a dusty copy of “Music Theory for Dummies” out of my garage was a good idea. I was mistaken. The book is a complete waste for an experienced musician, as it sticks to basic concepts such as note values, the circle of fifths, and progressions. For those who are not familiar with such concepts, researching and applying information found on the internet is far more effective, as no money is lost and a wider range of advice is received. I would only recommend this book for musicians who are having trouble beginning, do not have a teacher to ask, and cannot understand the articles on the net on the subjects they need help with, as this book slows down and breaks down those beginning concepts, making them much easier to understand.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Muhammadreza

    I finished reading this book more than six months ago. One of the best sources for learning music theory for people how have no idea about "classical" or in a better word, "academic" music. After reading this book I could start composing music in the right way. Also, I learned much more about pop, blues and jazz and it helped me write much better songs in these genres. I finished reading this book more than six months ago. One of the best sources for learning music theory for people how have no idea about "classical" or in a better word, "academic" music. After reading this book I could start composing music in the right way. Also, I learned much more about pop, blues and jazz and it helped me write much better songs in these genres.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Andrés Diplotti

    As one of the dummies this book was ostensibly written for, I can say I found it quite useful. Last week I didn't even know what a treble clef was for, or why a piano had black keys. After reading this book, I get to look at my past over the shoulder with a little sense of superiority. I found somewhat distressing to learn that music theory seems to be choke-full with historical artifacts. Of course, that's not the book's fault: there's nothing the authors can do about it. What they do is to incl As one of the dummies this book was ostensibly written for, I can say I found it quite useful. Last week I didn't even know what a treble clef was for, or why a piano had black keys. After reading this book, I get to look at my past over the shoulder with a little sense of superiority. I found somewhat distressing to learn that music theory seems to be choke-full with historical artifacts. Of course, that's not the book's fault: there's nothing the authors can do about it. What they do is to include some instructive history asides that help you understand why things are the way they are, rather than just telling you "this is what you need to know, period." There is, however, something to be forewarned about. The book's title might lead you to think this is some kind of primer, which is the reason I picked it up in the first place. Instead, it is written as a reference guide, so reading it from beginning to end may be a sometimes tedious experience. Every specific topic has its own heading, where it is thoroughly elaborated upon before moving on to the next. You don't get to read anything at all about harmony or melody until everything has been said about beat, tempo, bars, and time signatures; and you don't find a single word about chords until after every possible perfect, major, minor, augmented, and diminished interval has been painstakingly described and shown to you. And yes: some of the discussion seems to be a tad above the "for dummies" level promised by the cover. I doubt someone who just wants to get a better sense of what their guitar instructor means by "this is an E7 chord" will be building a minor harmonic scale very soon. In short: yes, the book is good and useful. However, like music itself, might have benefited from a better-planned progression.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Thuys

    Well this book covers lots of basic stuffs you need to know when it comes to music theory, but Id rather say no to recommend to any truly madly deeply dummy, because you can never get the best understanding of any new knowledge when stumbling upon "check out X in chapter Y" (chapter Y lies sonewhere far behind in the book) over and over again. If you already had some basic ideas then this book is just fine. Well this book covers lots of basic stuffs you need to know when it comes to music theory, but Id rather say no to recommend to any truly madly deeply dummy, because you can never get the best understanding of any new knowledge when stumbling upon "check out X in chapter Y" (chapter Y lies sonewhere far behind in the book) over and over again. If you already had some basic ideas then this book is just fine.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Danny

    Although it was a good review of basic theory, I don't think this book would do a great job of teaching someone for this first time. (AKA a dummy) Although it was a good review of basic theory, I don't think this book would do a great job of teaching someone for this first time. (AKA a dummy)

  7. 4 out of 5

    Vannessa Anderson

    Very detailed. There is a lot that can be learned for someone who can learn without having a human available to answer questions.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Qukatheg

    I picked this book up mainly looking to learn more about chords, intervals and chord progressions, to learn more about the underlying structure of music. There was a lot of useful information on these topics. However I felt a lot of pages were wasted on very basic instructions and illustrations of how to play the piano and guitar. It made me feel this book was only targeted at beginning pianists and guitarists, not other musicians. The book also leans heavily on audio samples (understandably), but I picked this book up mainly looking to learn more about chords, intervals and chord progressions, to learn more about the underlying structure of music. There was a lot of useful information on these topics. However I felt a lot of pages were wasted on very basic instructions and illustrations of how to play the piano and guitar. It made me feel this book was only targeted at beginning pianists and guitarists, not other musicians. The book also leans heavily on audio samples (understandably), but the url listed for the accompanying audio tracks (www.dummies.com/musictheory) gives a "page not found" error. Very disappointing.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Raw.B

    Read this book secondary to another music theory book. This individual book is very short, straight to the point, clearly written, and cleverly thought out. It really helped me pull all the information gained from the other book together and allowed me to understand further the reasoning behind each element of music. I will definitely be referring back to this book during my musical journey and I couldn't recommend this book too highly. However, if you're looking for something a bit more deep and Read this book secondary to another music theory book. This individual book is very short, straight to the point, clearly written, and cleverly thought out. It really helped me pull all the information gained from the other book together and allowed me to understand further the reasoning behind each element of music. I will definitely be referring back to this book during my musical journey and I couldn't recommend this book too highly. However, if you're looking for something a bit more deep and complex, there is better options.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Maximillian Knight

    The structure in this book is terrible. Consistently throughout they mention or explain terms that reference a later chapter but expect you to grasp and understand the terms? Is this a choose your adventure? Am I supposed to be constantly flipping into the later parts of the books so I can understand the references if I don't already have the knowledge of it, then flip back and continue on? What a PITA. There's no point paying for this book when there's a plethora of free information on the web. The structure in this book is terrible. Consistently throughout they mention or explain terms that reference a later chapter but expect you to grasp and understand the terms? Is this a choose your adventure? Am I supposed to be constantly flipping into the later parts of the books so I can understand the references if I don't already have the knowledge of it, then flip back and continue on? What a PITA. There's no point paying for this book when there's a plethora of free information on the web. Learn from my mistake and look elsewhere.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Bill

    Because I'm a self taught musician this answered a lot of questions I had. It also gave me some new insights into Western music. To top it off my playing improved, as did my improvisation skill. Although I'm finished reading it, I'm not finished with the book. I anticipate spending several hours going over the material in the book with guitar to hand putting theory into practice. Because I'm a self taught musician this answered a lot of questions I had. It also gave me some new insights into Western music. To top it off my playing improved, as did my improvisation skill. Although I'm finished reading it, I'm not finished with the book. I anticipate spending several hours going over the material in the book with guitar to hand putting theory into practice.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Byron Wright

    I have been taking piano lessons for a couple of years and wanted to get a better understanding of music theory. I can read the notes, but didn't 100% connect the patterns behind things such as chords. I found this book written at the right level to be understandable and useful. I got it from the library and I'm considering buying it to keep as a reference book. I have been taking piano lessons for a couple of years and wanted to get a better understanding of music theory. I can read the notes, but didn't 100% connect the patterns behind things such as chords. I found this book written at the right level to be understandable and useful. I got it from the library and I'm considering buying it to keep as a reference book.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    A good overview for people who know very little about music, but not very helpful for those who are experienced musicians. More than anything, this book helped me figure out what areas I still need to study (seventh chords and chord progressions).

  14. 5 out of 5

    Taylor

    I found this book very helpful for anyone interested or needing to know simple music theory. The author set great examples to different theories I never understood till now. Since finishing it I’m now searching for a book that goes further into detail.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Fang Jing

    I appreciate the scope and the casual style, but there are a good number of instances of poor writing leading to confusion and of apparently incorrect/inaccurate information. I find this hard to accept from a reputed publisher.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kendrick

    Made me feel stupid Already understanding a little music theory and years of experience I was hoping it would take some of the more complex subjects and circle of fifths and break them down simpler. I still don’t get it.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Giuseppe Demauro

    As someone completely new to music theory the book offers a wide range of topics broken down in quite a simple way. The only downside is that it tends to be kind of a list of things in some chapters more than a well done explanation, overall enjoyable

  18. 4 out of 5

    Natarajan

    SOFAR NICE informative

  19. 4 out of 5

    Trudy Nye

    As much as I hate, loathe, and despise the "for Dummies" title, this book is a good basic review of music theory for anyone who wishes to learn a bit about it. As much as I hate, loathe, and despise the "for Dummies" title, this book is a good basic review of music theory for anyone who wishes to learn a bit about it.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Steve Platt

    Excellent book, well thought out and full of knowledge. Increased my music knowledge 1000 fold

  21. 4 out of 5

    Richard Joshua

    a good refresher book on the basics of music theory

  22. 5 out of 5

    Leslie Ann

    I can read music and am familiar with music forms, so the chapters I found most useful were those on scales, key signatures, intervals, and chords. For the most part, this information was explained well.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ney Pal

    Got so much learning

  24. 5 out of 5

    Peter Lopez

    Had a bunch of breakthroughs here

  25. 4 out of 5

    ALFIE

    No sus chords section but an otherwise good, simplified look at the fundamentals of Western music theory.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Brianna

    Solid intro to music theory and history. If you've already got a background in those, you might be bored, but for the beginner it's a good read. Solid intro to music theory and history. If you've already got a background in those, you might be bored, but for the beginner it's a good read.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ljubomir

    The book is good in the sense that it did help me understand music a bit better, but that is it. Its target group is not at all so wide as the description claims. It would be useful mostly to aspiring guitarists. If you are one, it does have some useful reference tables and if you do not know any theory, it will make you more conscious of music and of your guitar. This being said, the book does not offer anything you cannot find on the internet, and its content is not even well organized. In additi The book is good in the sense that it did help me understand music a bit better, but that is it. Its target group is not at all so wide as the description claims. It would be useful mostly to aspiring guitarists. If you are one, it does have some useful reference tables and if you do not know any theory, it will make you more conscious of music and of your guitar. This being said, the book does not offer anything you cannot find on the internet, and its content is not even well organized. In addition, some parts of it are really written for dummies (repeating some things three times over or explaining how to use a CD), while other parts rush over difficult concepts and use terms not yet explained in the book or assume you are a musician. The 93 tracks on the CD are under 30 seconds long. There is not a single track that demonstrates different time signatures, for example, something that would have been very useful. Instead, most of the tracks simply feature different musical scales and some basic chord progressions. Overall, the book will teach you the basic musical concepts, as well as some history, but it won't be of much help when it comes to reading notes, picking-up the rhythm of a song and so on.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Music Theory for Dummies pretty much covers all the basics. I wouldn't use it in a formal classroom settings, as it only lightly touches the main tenets with an attitude that almost openly says, "don't worry if you don't get all this." I do think this is a fantastic approach for someone who wants to learn theory auto-didactically (I'm thinking of adults who perhaps lament not having stronger training when they were younger or who discovered musical passing later in life). I don't, however, parti Music Theory for Dummies pretty much covers all the basics. I wouldn't use it in a formal classroom settings, as it only lightly touches the main tenets with an attitude that almost openly says, "don't worry if you don't get all this." I do think this is a fantastic approach for someone who wants to learn theory auto-didactically (I'm thinking of adults who perhaps lament not having stronger training when they were younger or who discovered musical passing later in life). I don't, however, particularly like how casual it is (the title alone makes me wince, as I wouldn't want to make anyone feel like a dummy, joking or not), and because my personal interest is in being a music educator who pushes her students to surpass expectation, the book falls flat of that, but it is probably the number one book I'd recommend to a friend who asked for a suggestion on where to start. On that note, Music Theory for Dummies would be a great investment for the kind of folks who love to rock out in their garage band but who want to take their music to the next level by making it more complex and by taking a few risks. The book does include elements of chord progressions, form, and becoming a more active, critical listener of a variety of music—wonderful skills for anyone.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Gina

    This book fills different needs for different people. They give you a pretty good guide in the front for which sections to read for which things, and realistically I should have skipped the first few chapters, but that's not how I roll. I had some music theory in grade school and junior high, and as I am trying to learn bass guitar now, some things were coming back to me, and I was wondering about them. The book did really well for addressing that. I understand why scales work the way they do now This book fills different needs for different people. They give you a pretty good guide in the front for which sections to read for which things, and realistically I should have skipped the first few chapters, but that's not how I roll. I had some music theory in grade school and junior high, and as I am trying to learn bass guitar now, some things were coming back to me, and I was wondering about them. The book did really well for addressing that. I understand why scales work the way they do now, and picked up some other good information. I am not ready for all of it yet. That is to say, when I read about intervals, and some of the concepts in the later chapters, they are explained well, but I am not applying them enough for them to really stick with me. Perhaps after some more playing I will either revisit this book, or move on to one of the other sources suggested. For getting your basics in quickly and clearly, this works well.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Dimitris

    Though rather basic, the book succeeds in its goal of providing that knowledge in a straightforward way and without tedious detail. The fun diversions that come up only serve to make reading much easier and help the book hold you longer and, well, that makes for less reading sessions. With some prior knowledge the book is finished quickly (took me less than a day) and it is a good reference, albeit nothing really deep (but that is hardly the reason to read this particular book, right?) The langua Though rather basic, the book succeeds in its goal of providing that knowledge in a straightforward way and without tedious detail. The fun diversions that come up only serve to make reading much easier and help the book hold you longer and, well, that makes for less reading sessions. With some prior knowledge the book is finished quickly (took me less than a day) and it is a good reference, albeit nothing really deep (but that is hardly the reason to read this particular book, right?) The language is direct and the concepts presented in a way that most will understand what the authors are talking about, all the while making for quite the pleasant read. Recommended for the complete newbie and those who have some knowledge but need a quick reminder of those important stuff that make the basis of music theory before delving into specifics. Nice work.

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