© 2016 Bill Gordon       Design by JS

CONTACT BILL GORDON

Despite being an INTRODUCTION, please read:

 

 

As a musician and lover of music, I can’t say the words music theory without sneering. This magical art moves us to dance or to tears or to feel and think, and the last thing on our minds or in our hearts is anything remotely theoretical. It’s MUSIC, damn it!


This book will help you understand confidently the things you've always

heard going on in music, things you’ve likely often wondered about.

 

Many people encounter trouble with so-called music theory because it’s often presented in an impractical, unhelpful, convoluted, random way, as though understanding this thing we love is remote or unobtainable. This is absurd. What goes on compositionally in most music, when broken down into comprehendible parts, is pretty simple. When presented clearly and we’re allowed to maintain a childlike clarity and curiosity, we see past mind-clogging, unnecessary details to the simplicity and beauty of music’s architecture.

 

Whether you play an instrument, write songs, sing, or simply have a lust to learn, this book will give you insights into that architecture. And while there’s a glut of music info out there, much of it solid and well-presented, there’s also a lot in schools and books, on YouTube and the like that’s confusing, presented oddly, or simply wrong.

 

You can treat this as a traditional text book, or a work book, or a deeply comprehensive outline. Skip around, starting with what interests you now, or go through the book from the beginning. Either way, work patiently with a subject, using a keyboard or guitar, ideally spending at least a little time on it every day until it clicks. Music is a beautiful thing, but learning about it can numb your brain. We all have strengths and weaknesses at absorbing new knowledge, so let things sink in at your speed. Something may seem unclear at first – give it time. If it still doesn’t make sense, look into a different topic: the light may be waiting there for you.

 

For all of us who take part in the discipline of music, it’s a never-ending, life-long schooling. Music, like all else, changes; but the “rules” behind music are physics, so they don’t change…at least not yet in this universe. Take your time, dig in, then stand back, and notice how little pieces of understanding bring you closer to where you musically want to be. There’s magic in music, and the more we understand it, the more deeply we enjoy its beauty and secrets.

 

This small book, when studied thoughtfully and applied lovingly, will give you a solid foundation on which to build your musical house. It’s practical and pragmatic. Let it liberate you from the shackles of ignorance and uncertainty, taking you to the understanding of music you want. Have fun learning from it, damn it!

 

Bill Gordon, Baltimore, 2015

INTRODUCTION ............................................................

How to Use This Book ....................................................

Ear Training Audio Link ..................................................

PITCH  .............................................................................

Naming pitches on a keyboard  ....................................

Naming pitches on a guitar  ..........................................

Scales  ..............................................................................

The importance & organization of scales .....................

Other scales  ...................................................................

Determining Key  ............................................................

Melody  ............................................................................

RHYTHM  .........................................................................

HARMONY  .....................................................................

Intervals ............................................................................

Triads ................................................................................

7th Chords........................................................................

Added 6th Chords ...........................................................

Minor Scale Chords .........................................................

Harmonic Progression: motion from chord to chord ...

The Importance of Analyzing Songs You Love .............

Song Parts (Song Sections) ............................................

What to Listen for in a Song ..........................................

Miscellaneous Music Terms ...........................................

Books, Movies, and Other Resources ...........................

The End? .........................................................................

Music Notation: A Crash Course ...................................

Major Scales ....................................................................

Minor Scales ....................................................................

Intervals Written Out in Letters (some examples) ........

Chords Written Out in Letters (some examples) ..........

Diatonic Intervals ............................................................

Diatonic Triads ................................................................

HOW’S, WHY’S, AND OTHER STUFF ..........................

Why This Book ................................................................

Pitch, Note, and Tone ....................................................

What’s a Step? ................................................................

The Power of the Half-Step ...........................................

Some Music Myths .........................................................

The Myth That Music is Math ........................................

Why Are Scales Spelled Like They Are? .......................

The Myth that the Cycles of 4ths & 5ths are

THE Answer to Everything Music .................................

Modes                            

Solfege: Soul what?! ....................................

Natural Melodic Tendencies in a Scale ........................

Why Roman Numerals? .................................................

Vertical, Horizontal .........................................................

Compositional Textures ................................................

Voice-Leading and the Importance of

Knowing Chord Inversions ............................................

Another Music Myth ......................................................

The Myth of I IV V ..........................................................

But How do I Find the Right Chords for My Song? ....

The Job of the Dominant 7th Chord ...........................

The Harmonic Series .....................................................

Color Tones ....................................................................

Do you really want to play well? ...................................

Pitch Frequency Chart ...................................................

Vocabulary ......................................................................

Index ...............................................................................

1

2

2

5

5

7

9

11

13

14

14

15

16

16

17

18

19

19

20

22

22

24

25

29

29

30

39

42

45

46

47

48

49

49

49

49

49

50

50

50

 

51

51

55

56

56

56

 

57

57

57

58

58

59

61

62

63

64

65

TABLE OF CONTENTS