I want to teach myself music theory
September 28, 2010 2:44 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to teach myself music theory - what resources can you recommend?

Online, printed and audio resources/courses all good. and any helpful tips you might have for approaching music theory. I can't play/don't have a keyboard, just started learning the trumpet and want to back up the blowing skills with a firm foundation in the grammar. Thanks in advance for any recommendations.
posted by gravelshoes to Media & Arts (11 answers total) 72 users marked this as a favorite
This site has served me well.
posted by umbĂș at 2:58 PM on September 28, 2010 [5 favorites]

i liked "the ABCs of music" by imogen holst
posted by stubby phillips at 2:59 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Here's an old comment by me (as "Jaltcoh") where I explain how I taught myself relative pitch and why you should focus on "scale degrees" rather than "intervals." I used that method on guitar and piano; I assume it would translate to trumpet as well. I know you said "music theory," not "ear training," but you'll want to have both.
posted by John Cohen at 3:21 PM on September 28, 2010

Get a keyboard. Even something like this would be invaluable to you. Visualizing theory becomes SO MUCH EASIER once you add a keyboard, especially when you start to get into more advanced theory that a melodic instrument just won't let you hear.

Not that you can't do it with a trumpet, but you'll be really, really glad to add some keyboard knowledge. When I got into college as a music major (playing guitar), I was pissed that I had to take piano classes as well. But once I had my first few theory classes, it became clear that the keyboard was going to be a valuable tool, both to develop my ear and my brain.
posted by coolguymichael at 3:56 PM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

Hey! I'm doing this right for fun right now and I LOVE it. I'm following the ABRSM syllabus using the AB guides to music theory and the Music Theory in Practice workbooks. I'm taking the grade exams to keep me on track.
posted by freya_lamb at 4:20 PM on September 28, 2010

Also - yes to keyboard. I play basic guitar but the theory didn't really make sense until I had a keyboard to try stuff out. Musictheory.net (as recommended by umbĂș) is also really useful for hearing what's going on. Book learnin' is great but you need to be able to relate the notation to actual sound.
posted by freya_lamb at 4:26 PM on September 28, 2010

Sorry, missed the bit about not having a keyboard. You don't need an actual one, simulated versions work fine (and Musictheory.net has a pop up version you can mark up).

I'll stop commenting now. But yay to learning theory!
posted by freya_lamb at 4:31 PM on September 28, 2010

Scales, Intervals, Keys, Triads, Rhythm, and Meter is a self-directed course/workbook -- very innovative. I'm working through it myself as a refresher. I'm also doing Solfege, Ear Training, Rhythm, Dictation, and Music Theory: A Comprehensive Course, but I'd say it's not as immediately accessible as Scales, Intervals, etc.

Good luck! :)
posted by hansbrough at 4:44 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Get an actual cheap electronic keyboard. Perhaps not so cheap as the invaluable $7 kiddie one-octave, which is good for puppet shows.
posted by ovvl at 4:54 PM on September 28, 2010

I always recommend Edly's Music Theory for Practical People. (Amazon.com reviews for the first edition here)

The tone is a little bit cutesy but not patronizing, and the information is well-presented. Like any knowledge, I think it works best if you find ways to actively apply it to the real world; that is to say, you can read through this book and understand things intellectually, but light bulbs don't start going off in your head until you try them out on your instrument.
posted by usonian at 8:41 PM on September 28, 2010

Try Harmony and Voiceleading. It takes you through the basics pretty quickly, but it's really good!
posted by astapasta24 at 9:45 PM on September 28, 2010

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