The Best Books On Theory?

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by Stringbanger, May 9, 2015.

  1. Stringbanger

    Stringbanger Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I have been playing guitar a long time. Mainly as a rhythm guitarist/vocalist. Recently I have finally moved to a higher plane by practicing scales and modes. I see you guys talking about B13s and Db7add5 or whatever, and I'm intrigued by all this. The theory book I have seems to pedantic.
    Where do I start?
     
  2. Rod Parsons

    Rod Parsons Friend of Leo's

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    I like "Fretboard Theory " 'volume one'..... But I bet Guitar Theory For Dummies" is probably good too.. I like doing everything by the numbers except for the key the music is in, such as 'C', or 'A', etc.. The Greek names for the modes are not necessary at all, imo.. The modes of any scale only relect which number in the scale you start on. In the major key of 'C', the 1st mode would be the notes 'C' through 'C'.. The 2nd mode would be 'D' through 'D'., the 3rd... 'E' through'E', and so on. Each mode has a Greek name, but, as I said, knowing the names is just academic,..ie, memorization without a real purpose. All scales have modes that work the same way.. The mode number is the note in that scale that you start on. The scale could be minor, major pentatonic, minor pentatonic, or any scale you want to study or any scale you might want to make up from scratch... The word "THEORY" is a scary word, imo, and that word probably keeps 90 percent, [?], of players, including me, from attempting to learn it. I found it easy, once I read the first couple of pages.. I needed a teacher after 35 years of playing in bands to help me with what you want to learn. I advise a GOOD teacher to get you started. You have the desire to learn, so that, to me, is 90 per cent of the battle.. I know people who have played 50 years and still don't know more than a few major chords, and possibly a couple minor opnes. They don't have THE DESIRE.. Good luck!
     
  3. studio

    studio Poster Extraordinaire

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    Sounds like you been playing awhile. So I picked up this book
    some time back and had a blast with it!

    So humorous, but it gets you playing in that style
    and is geared towards exactly what you described,
    folks who scratch their head to the nomenclature but
    love to play like that. Well worth the few bucks IMO.
    [​IMG]
     
  4. VWAmTele

    VWAmTele Friend of Leo's

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    I've found this one to be pretty complete and straight to the point without being pedantic.
    Tom Kolb - Music Theory for Guitarists: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know But Were Afraid to Ask (Guitar Method)

    [​IMG]
     
  5. the embezzler

    the embezzler Tele-Holic

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    If you want something guitar-istic then the books mentioned in this thread are fine.
    If you want something less guitar oriented then might I recommend The AB guide to music theory by Eric Taylor and, if you want something more advanced, the Mark Levine theory book is worth a look for intermediate to advanced concepts.
     
  6. Stringbanger

    Stringbanger Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Thanks for all the immediate and thoughtful responses. I will probably buy all the aforementioned books, which might in itself, sound pedantic. But I have found that one must completely immerse one's self in a subject to just begin to grasp it.

    Another question: what are the benefits of learning theory?

    String
     
  7. Stringbanger

    Stringbanger Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Sorry Mr Sutton, I overlooked your question. The book I have is "Music Theory" by George Thaddeus Jones, 1974, ISBN: 0-06-460137-4

    String
     
  8. slowpinky

    slowpinky Tele-Afflicted

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    Before immersing - have a think about what it is you want to do with 'theory' and fundamentals. The idea of those Shearer books - especially if you went the next step and got some Classical guitar lessons would serve you well in that department. The vast majority of classical musicians learn theory whilst learning to read music - it goes hand in hand.
    On the other hand if you want to learn about intervals ,chords , chord symbols , popular chord progressions and scales - then a course in traditional/classical theory may not be all that helpful at the outset. This book is one of the most accessible and 'to the point' texts around. Its been around since the early 80's and whilst it is a jazz text, the principles behind it are universal for any popular music application.

    The Jazz Language: A Theory Text for Jazz Composition and Improvisation: Dan Haerle: 9780760400142: Amazon.com: Books@@AMEPARAM@@http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51c3ED1mIEL.@@AMEPARAM@@51c3ED1mIEL
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2015
  9. studio

    studio Poster Extraordinaire

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    So, you're looking for a Gestalt methodology to grasp
    the overall view of music, then refine your search to
    specifics schools of thought, then application of techniques.

    Depending on who you ask, that is a very wide range of
    subjects. Music carries with it, just to name a few,
    emotion, spiritual, technical, as well as it's varying
    philosophical points......not to mention just having
    an appreciation of music on many different genres and levels.

    Children pick up on music even before they are
    able to talk! It's an amazing subject to tackle.
    Go get 'em!
     
  10. dsutton24

    dsutton24 Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I'm going down this road too. I've been playing for forty years, mostly self-taught. My son found a real music professor in a neighboring town and we've both been learning music theory and are playing classical guitar... Actually, this guy is just as likely to pull out Jessie's Girl or Beat It to illustrate a point. He's patient and not an insufferable diva.

    The biggest benefit for me is that I've had to practice more diligently than I have in years, the harder I work, the more I progress. For what it's worth, if you're committed to learning theory, if you don't already know how, learn to read music from the staff at the same time. It's not difficult, it makes the theory a lot easier to understand, and makes the transition to piano and piano music easy.

    There are a lot of successful musicians who do it strictly by feel. Theory is, for me, a real eye opener. It makes just about any form achievable.
     
  11. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I never quite got the idea behind books on music theory *for* *guitar*. Are there books on music theory *for* *oboe*?
     
  12. Erik8

    Erik8 Tele-Meister

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    I Agree but I guess its because most guitarist can't read music. Most oboe players can I guess
     
  13. flyswatter

    flyswatter Friend of Leo's

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  14. ItchyFingers

    ItchyFingers Tele-Afflicted

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    The everything music theory book and
    The everything rock and blues guitar are super easy reading, captivating, informative and include some great technique tips as well.
    They are well below expert level but something above very beginner.
    Everything Piano, bass, trumpet. I have a pile of the everything books. It's a great starting place.
    I have two 4" binders of a piano course that is also full of theory.
    If you find general theory books dry and boring and the page gets blurry before you're halfway down it, try the everything books. I have read them all numerous times. Reading something once is interesting but to read them over and over, that's a winner. They made me want to step up and learn more.
    There is no end to theory nor are the everything books the end. They are just the start.
    I really find it hard to understand how people will totally memorize many songs but won't learn where 12 little notes fit onto a musical staff.
    A phone number is 11 digits. How long does it take to remember a phone number?
    Sorry, I just prefer to read it that way. Being super late to the party, I got the notes burned into my memory before I ran across tabs. Strange stuff.
    A lot of the suggestions sound cool. Noted. Thanks.
     
  15. Tim Bowen

    Tim Bowen Poster Extraordinaire

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    I'm certainly a proponent of musicians learning to read music, and I agree with a previous comment that this ongoing endeavor does effectively support a study of harmony and theory. However, standard musical notation is not harmony & theory.

    I know folks that can sight read Brahms, but don't know what notes make up a Cmajor7 chord. Weird but true. It's helpful to be able to recognize the notes C,E,G & B on the staff, but that ability does not tell one that these combined notes will yield a Cmajor7 chord. Nor will the ability to read music tell one that these notes can also function as a (rootless) Aminor9 chord.

    I would certainly recommend to anyone that is interested in a study of harmony & theory, to include standard musical notation and ear training/interval awareness to their agenda, as the combination will certainly yield a deeper understanding than will leaving any of these elements out. However, they are not the same.

    I'm with BigDaddy, harmony is harmony, whether we're talking guitar, xylophone, or Guatemalan nose flute. None of the harmony & theory books that I use as teaching supplements with my students are instrument-specific. Additionally, I do work on harmony & theory studies with adult students who have made decisions not to learn to read, and we never view guitar (or banjo or mandolin) tablature for such, although we do use piano keyboard diagrams as visual aids.
     
  16. Danjg

    Danjg Tele-Meister

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    I have run into this as well, my girlfriends father plays incredible classical piano, full opera scores and whatnot. Over christmas he thought it would be great if everyone sang jingle-bells: three failed attempts later and he still couldn't figure out that with 7 people carrying the one of north america's most well-known melodies all he needed to do was bang out a G then a C then a D (probably if he wouldn't just laid on the G the whole time we would have gotten through).

    I would also encourage the OP to check out theory books/videos for other insturments. There are some excellent ideas in gospel piano culture that really haven't permeated their way into the mainstream guitar culture that have really helped my understanding
     
  17. prebend

    prebend Tele-Holic

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    What works best for me is building a knowledge of theory in bits and pieces through learning tunes. After learning the very basics like the structure of the Major Scale and how it is harmonized, the circle of fifths/fourths, and some intervals, then jump right into the deep end end of the pool and try to learn a Jazz standard. What's the structure - AABA? Learn and play the progression. Learn and play the melody. Analyze the progression a bit. Is it moving in fourths like ii-V-I? Does it change keys? Analyze the melody with respect to the underlying chords. Look for tension and release and how the melody and harmony create it. Stuff like that. It may seem like a lot, but it's not so bad. Patience and curiosity are the keys.

    When you get stuck go back to a book or online resource or ask a specific question on a forum like this. In time all the pieces will start to come together and you'll see a lot of the same patterns over and over again. In the end you'll know a bunch of tunes and have a lot of concrete examples of the theory.
     
  18. Stringbanger

    Stringbanger Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Thanks again to all the new posters to this thread. You guys have provided me with a direction and valuable resources. I will keep you updated on my progress.

    String
     
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