Is there a decent beginner's theory book?

jzucker

Silver Supporting Member
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20,962
I'm trying to teach my son theory and every theory book I see seems to be littered with stuff about parallel 4ths and other things which are useless for popular music. I'm on the verge of writing my own book.

In my mind the 3 important things for him to learn are:

  • Knowing the major scale and what it's interval relationship is (i.e. what's a major 2nd, major 3rd, perfect 4th, perfect 5th, major 6th, major7). Anything that's not a major scale can be analyzed as differing from the major scale. i.e. dorian is 1,2,b3,4,5,6,b7
  • Memorizing the key signatures i.e. what sharps are in the key of C#?, how many flats in Cb?
  • Being able to stack 3rds and analyze 7th chord structures for any scale,i.e. for a Major Scale, Imaj7, IImin7, IIImin7,IVMaj7,V7,VImin7,VIImin7b5

If there is nothing out there with this approach I may write my own book. I can't imagine it'd take more than 20-30 pages.

However, I have to believe it already exists.
 

Ed DeGenaro

Silver Supporting Member
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23,734
Originally posted by jzucker
I'm trying to teach my son theory and every theory book I see seems to be littered with stuff about parallel 4ths and other things which are useless for popular music. I'm on the verge of writing my own book.

In my mind the 3 important things for him to learn are:

  • Knowing the major scale and what it's interval relationship is (i.e. what's a major 2nd, major 3rd, perfect 4th, perfect 5th, major 6th, major7). Anything that's not a major scale can be analyzed as differing from the major scale. i.e. dorian is 1,2,b3,4,5,6,b7
  • Memorizing the key signatures i.e. what sharps are in the key of C#?, how many flats in Cb?
  • Being able to stack 3rds and analyze 7th chord structures for any scale,i.e. for a Major Scale, Imaj7, IImin7, IIImin7,IVMaj7,V7,VImin7,VIImin7b5

If there is nothing out there with this approach I may write my own book. I can't imagine it'd take more than 20-30 pages.

However, I have to believe it already exists.
I think the two Dick Grove theory books might work.
 

bbarnard

Member
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3,631
Don't know if you've looked at this one, but it does a lot of what you are talking about. $10

Theory for the Contemporary Guitarist—Guy Capuzzo

Available from the NGW bookstore. First few lessons are exactly what your items 1 and 2 are (well I'm not far enough into it to say for sure that the modes are presented as changes to the major scale) but the first few page talk about the major scale and the intervals between the notes of the scale and the keys along with their sharps and flats. It has worksheets with it (mini tests).

One note, it does NOT use tabs (which is challenging for me since I don't read).

My teacher lent me his copy.
 

spaceboy

Member
Messages
256
well, you may be familiar with the "Grades" that we take for instruments over here in the UK. not even sure why really - just because we can I guess. i think it helps the progress of the student by going up a grade at a time and learning everything "properly" at the right rate and in the right order etc. and then playing infront of the examiners is good practice... ANYWAY, you can also do theory grade exams. so there's 8 grades (grade 5 is what everyone does up to, after that it gets needlessly complicated, but whatever floats yer boat) and you get an exercise book and guide-book-type-thing for each specific grade and work through it till you know it all, and then you can take the exam if you can be arsed. once again, ANYWAY, the point is that i think this is a very good way to learn it, although maybe more expensive and complicated by not all being in one book, but just say if you're interested and I'll ask my mum (a private music teacher) how you would get hold of the books.
 

Butterfly

Silver Supporting Member
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1,629
Jack: Write the book; I'd buy it and my guess is that plenty of others will as well. Keep it practical and short (with TAB) and you'll get an audience (IMHO). :)

R
 

Tom Gross

OG Forum Member
Gold Supporting Member
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6,161
I think it's really needed in this concise a manner - the Theory basics, just as you describe them.
They are there in a lot of books, but would be great to have separated out, so those that aren't interested in, or ready for, or are intimidated by whatever bigger book the info is in (Jazz book, shred book, heavy theory book, SOS, etc.) will have access to it .
 

jzucker

Silver Supporting Member
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20,962
Originally posted by Butterfly
Jack: Write the book; I'd buy it and my guess is that plenty of others will as well. Keep it practical and short (with TAB) and you'll get an audience (IMHO). :)

R
I may just do that. I can't imagine needing more than 15-20 pages.
 

joejazzguitar

Gold Supporting Member
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1,144
ditto the suggestion for Capuzzo's Theory for the Contemporary Guitarist....it's the first book that I give to my private students, and I use it in my adult group classes as well....
 

SouthernShred

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,561
I'm probably about to order SOS Jack, but have you decided on a theory book for your son? I need an accompanying or complimentary theory book that will help me learn theory AND properly apply it.
 

jzucker

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
20,962
Originally posted by SouthernShred
I'm probably about to order SOS Jack, but have you decided on a theory book for your son? I need an accompanying or complimentary theory book that will help me learn theory AND properly apply it.
Unfortunately, I haven' t found one. The problem is that there are so many recommendations and none of them have enough information on amazon to figure out which one to get.
 

spaceboy

Member
Messages
256
Jack - I still very strongly recommend the theory grade exercise books. it may not apply the theory to the guitar, but it is still applied through the written exercises. it lets you practice each new piece of information on the stave, so if you haven't quite managed to "own it" (as is the popular term around these parts), you'll soon know about it when you try to answer the questions. It does need an accompanying teacher - but that would be you. maybe it's more trouble than you're willing to go to get the books from the UK, especially seeing as there's 8 Grades, but the Associated Board has been going for donkey's years, and EVERYONE (well, probably about 90%) who plays a classical instrument to any profficiency goes through the rigours of Grading, so the whole system is VERY finely honed, and i really can't think of a better way to learn theory. hope that explained it ok.

EDIT: go here http://www.abrsm.org/?page=teachers/resources/support/theory.html

Music Theory In Practice is the one I was thinking of, but browse away.
 

bbarnard

Member
Messages
3,631
Originally posted by jzucker
Unfortunately, I haven' t found one. The problem is that there are so many recommendations and none of them have enough information on amazon to figure out which one to get.
I have the Capuzzo book in hand so if you wanted I could probably figure out a way to fax or email you the table of contents if you want.
 

jordanL

Member
Messages
1,479
Jack,

the first chapter of Matt Smith's chop shop has a short and concise "all the theory you need" chapter thats pretty good. Al;so David Harp has a small format book (Music theory Made Easy) that I recall being OK. II'll see if I can find my copy and review it.
 




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