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Thread: Please recommend music theory literature for a beginner

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    Default Please recommend music theory literature for a beginner

    I am a beginner and recommend me Counterpoint/Fugue and Harmony books, but that are really easy to follow. I know IMSLP site and I have some books from that site, Counterpoint/Fugue by Cherubini and Harmony by Tchaikovsky, but these are hard to follow for me. I know scales and circle of fifths. From what I've learned to compose I'll need good skill at the piano, and knowledge of theory, but its difficult for me to play piano after few strokes - I've recovered from them but it seems I don't have the dexterity for really good piano skill, and my hearing is failing.

    I'll post here my beginner composition, advise me how to achieve something substantially better, please, and thanks in advance.


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    Senior Member Vasks's Avatar
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    I'll mention a few things: (1) It really appears that you've written a piece in 6/8. So change the time signature. Once that's done let's look at harmony. (2) In measure 1 the last three melody with its chord is a strong dominant chord (C major chord in the key of F major). It needs to resolve at the start of measure 2 either back to tonic (an F major chord) or a different/unexpected one like A minor chord (the mediant), but NOT retaining the dominant like you did. Why? Take a closer look at the three melody notes at the start of m. 2. Two of the three are NOT part of the dominant chord. The first & third will nicely be part of the two chords I suggested. (3) Finally use second inversion triads sparingly and definitely not at the start and end as you've done. Second inversion (or what is also called "six-four chords") are special and treated specially. Notice I said "triads". Once you create seventh chords, the rules are more flexible. So ditch the pitch "C" (of the F major chord) as your lowest note at the start and end. Then check other places and see if they need to be changed too. Along with this is the need to use more "first inversion" chords in the left hand.
    "Music in any generation is not what the public thinks of it but what the musicians make of it"....Virgil Thomson

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    Learning harmony and counterpoint is not a task to be taken lightly, nor are there any shortcuts or speedy methods. It takes time - sometimes years - to master. But - there are two relatively new books that might help. One is in the classic Dummies series, Music Theory for Dummies and the other is Music Theory: from Absolute Beginner to Expert (Nicholas Carter). Several private teachers I know are using these for their students.

    Learning counterpoint is going to be a real challenge unless you've got a firm grip on harmony first. Beth Denisch wrote a book a few years ago that is quite good and explains it clearly and is probably as good a self-help book the subject will have.

    The other thing you should do is to listen to, with scores, as much music as you can. Even better, play it yourself. Playing Bach gives you an insight into how he wrote that is unparalleled. Playing sonatas by Clementi, Haydn, and other classical composers will teach you a vast amount about keyboard styles.

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    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
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    I recommend a teacher. Failing that, watch YouTube. My favorite on there is Rick Beato.

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    I am also a beginner and I found Kent Kennan "counterpoint" book really useful, particularly the first half of the book which deals only with two voice counterpoint and, in a simple two voice basis, talks about chromatism, non-chord tones and what Vasks was commenting of the second inversions chords treatment and harmonic rhythm. There is also a workbook with exercises.I would not call it easy though, but once you start to get the hang of it it becomes easier. For Harmony you could try Walter Piston "Harmony" book, but I have not checked that one out yet.

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