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Thread: Where to Learn Harmony/Music Theory since the Romantic Era

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    Default Where to Learn Harmony/Music Theory since the Romantic Era

    I've found that a lot of music theory textbooks spend most of the time talking about the classical and baroque eras and then very briefly skim through ideas since the romantic era.

    When it comes to chromatic harmony, there's often just a chapter or two on the neapolitan, augmented sixth, and then that's it.

    However, certainly film music such as that of John Williams and a lot of modern pop music seems to go beyond what's covered in most of the music theory books. Even in classical music, not only Wagner but also Brahms uses complex harmony. And needless to say, those like Debussy and Stravinsky go well beyond the standard theory.

    So, my question is, once you've finished with what's covered in standard music theory textbooks, where do you go next?What other topics do you learn? Where do you find this information?

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    Senior Member Larkenfield's Avatar
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    I would suggest that you look up the musical analysis regarding the composers you're most interest in, at least as a starting point. For instance on Debussy:

    Other resources mentioned in the Debussy article:
    Schenker Guide: A Brief Handbook and Website for Schenkerian Analysis
    Materials and Techniques of 20th Century Music
    Introduction to Post-Tonal Theory
    A Generative Theory of Tonal Music
    Tonality and Transformation
    Generalized Musical Intervals and Transformations

    In the doing comes the knowing.
    Last edited by Larkenfield; Nov-01-2017 at 01:31.
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    Quote Originally Posted by herman49 View Post
    ... a lot of modern pop music seems to go beyond what's covered in most of the music theory books.
    I'd be surprised if a lot of modern pop music did much more that I IV V in endless circles!

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    I recommend Antokoletz's book Twentieth Century Music. It covers the historical and the theoretical elements very well. Here's a link to the book on Amazon:

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    Senior Member mikeh375's Avatar
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    This is free and worth a read if only to digest the is a vast resource of technique.

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    Senior Member Vox Gabrieli's Avatar
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    Forte: Structure of Atonal Music
    Mathematical theory of music JEDRZEJEWSKI
    The Structure of Atonal Music FORTE
    Ear Training for Twentieth-Century Music
    Other Harmony: Beyond Tonal and Atonal TOM JOHNSON
    Musical Morphology: A Discourse and a Dictionary LEVARIE
    Structural Functions of Harmony SCHOENBERG
    Theory of Harmony SCHOENBERG
    Fundamentals of Musical Composition SCHOENBERG ( Not modern, but ubiquitous in it's teaching )
    Music After Modernism LIPMAN ( Not theory, but an interesting take on the modern era of declining music performance. )
    On The Musically Beautiful Eduard Hanslick ( Essential )

    The preceding books are from my personal list, but you can find hundreds more in TC's Music Book Archive ( link provided )
    “If there be something that behaves like savagery and boasts of civilsation, then there is the devil in it.” – G.K. Chesterton

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    These two books are the most pellucid music-theoretical monographs I have ever come across—I cannot recommend them highly enough:

    Musical Structures in Wagnerian Opera

    Hanbdook of Harmonic Analysis

    Leland Smith's book (Handbook of Harmonic Analysis) covers tonal harmony all the way through to its dissolution whereas Marshall Tuttle's book (Musical Structures in Wagnerian Opera) focuses on Wagner but reveals a great deal about the tonal system that is not talked about elsewhere as far as I know.

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