The Complete Idiot Guide to Music Theory
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1 Pitches and Clefs
Sing high, sing low—and learn how to describe all those different pitches you can sing.
What’s the shortest distance between two tones? It’s called an interval!
Do, a deer, a female deer ... which happens to be as good a way as any to describe a scale.
4 Major and Minor Keys
We’re not talking car keys here; nope, this chapter is all about major and minor keys, as well as some seven-note modes that date all the way back to the ancient Greeks.
5 Note Values and Basic Notation
If you can count to four, you can figure out most rhythms—and write them down, on paper.
6 Time Signatures
It looks like a fraction, but it’s not a fraction—it’s a time signature!
7 Tempo, Dynamics, and Navigation
How do you describe how fast and how loud a song should be played? Read here to find out!
When you put tones together with rhythms, what do you get? (Hint: You can sing it!)
Major, minor, diminished, augmented—whatever you call ’em, chords are just three notes played together.
10 Chord Progressions
Did you know that most folk, rock, and country music can be played with just three chords? Now that’s a popular chord progression!
11 Phrases and Form
ABAC isn’t an acronym—it’s a way to describe in what order you play all the different sections of a song.
12 Transcribing What You Hear
The music goes in one ear, bounces around your brain, and ends up written down on paper—if you do it right.
13 Accompanying Melodies
Time to sit down at the piano (or guitar) and play a few chords!
14 Transposing to Other Keys
When one key isn’t good enough, you have to move the notes to another key.
15 Harmony and Counterpoint Or, where you find out background vocals are more than just ooohs
and aaahs and acting like a Pip or a Supreme.
16 Chord Substitutions and Turnarounds
If you don’t like the chords as written—change ’em!
17 Special Notation
All sorts of fancy notation that didn’t fit anywhere else in this book.
18 Composing and Arranging for Voices and Instruments
Learn how to write for specific voices and instruments—the proper ranges, and whether and how they need to be transposed.
19 Lead Sheets and Scores
Turn here to see some examples of lead sheets, chord sheets, vocal scores, big band scores, and full-blown orchestral scores.
20 Performing Your Music
Up, down, left, right—how to set the tempo and start conducting!