Looking for a good music theory book

Posted In: Amateur Harpists

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    ashley-c on #155523

    Hello. Well, I’d like to say I’m an intermediate to advanced beginner harpist, I’ve been playing for about a year. The only formal training I’ve had was marching band back in high school, and needless to say, with 120 other musicians, my teacher didn’t have much time for music theory. I can sight read pretty well, but that’s as far as my knowledge goes. So I’m basically clueless as far as music theory and it’s beginning to hold me back. I don’t have a great ear, but I am fairly decent at identifying the notes in a melody line for songs that I’d like to play. I can get them written down, but I’m completely unable to find the right chords to add in on the bass line, which is something I would SO love to learn. I also need to learn how to transpose music between keys, or write out accidentals (is that even possible??). I have a 26 string lever harp with only partial levers so until I am able to upgrade, I would like to be able to adjust certain pieces to fit my harp. Most of the harp music I have now will fit on a 26 string, but if it has the wrong accidental it becomes impossible for me to play.

    Can anyone recommend a good book, website, or maybe even an iPhone app that could teach me those things? I saw that Syllvia Woods has a music theory book available and I am a HUGE fan of everything she does, but I would love some opinions from people with experience. Thanks!!

    patricia-jaeger on #155524

    Ashley, for starters, there is a pretty good interactive, free site on the internet: http://www.musictheory.net. I think that would be a good place to start. For a while I used the Bastien (for piano) theory books with my harp students. They have 5 levels: Primer, Level 1, level 2, level 3, and level 4. After that, there are 3 levels of Intermediate Theory, also by Bastien (These are all published by Neil J.Kjos Publishing, somewhere in California. I like this workbook style because you write the answers right in the book, rather than just reading a lot of text. The first correct answer is given, printed in gray instead of black, to help you get the other ones right. Then, a few years ago, a harpist published a good set of workbooks: Theory at the Harp, by Kathy Bundock Moore, in 4 levels. The answers are given on pull-out pages at the back of the book. This series is better, for 4 fingers instead of five. If you finish these four, you can go further by using the Bastien Intermediate Theory books.

    ashley-c on #155525

    Thanks for the info, Patricia. I’ve heard good things about the music theory books by Ms. Moore as well. I almost ordered them, but Melody’s website says that they were aimed towards pedal harpists and I won’t be transitioning to one of those any time soon. (don’t I wish though!) Do you think they would be okay for me even though I’m a lever harpist?

    kreig-kitts on #155526

    I’s recommend The Idiot’s Guide to Music Theory. It might be the “Fir Dummies” version instead, I don’t remember which publisher makes thus one, maybe both. They’re very good at breaking everything down and explaining it in a straightforward manner and in an order that helps build knowledge. I had a decent background in theory but bought a copy to learn more about some types of scales and some other concepts and remind me which mode is which, plus understand some of the more complex chords better. It evetually gets into fairly complex material, but you just go as far into as you need to, since it builds on what it has already covered and doesn’t bring up anything before it has covered the concepts you need to understand it.

    tony-morosco on #155527

    I have read both and personally I find the Complete Idiot’s Guide to Music Theory a much better introduction to music theory than Music Theory For Dummies.

    Both are decent, but the Idiot’s Guide is better at explaining the more difficult concepts, and is generally a more engaging book.

    patricia-jaeger on #155528

    Ashley, regarding the Moore theory book series, I use them for lever as well as pedal harp students. There are just a few pages to ignore, with pedal information, and lever harpists who finished all four books were well equipped, I found. Those who later acquired pedal harps found that those skipped pages formed a good introduction to pedals, and were glad of the workbook-style of writing directly into the book and then checking their answers at the back. It saves their lesson time, to have this information about footwork at the harp, and also how it is indicated on printed pedal harp music, in print rather than only given verbally by the teacher.

    HBrock25 on #155529

    Hi. I

    maryann-koch on #155530


    Cindy Blevins has a new book out called “Harp Sense”

    Biagio Sancetta on #155531

    In the same boat paddling away with you Ashley, awhile back.

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