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Book review: Music Theory for Dummies, by Michael Pilhofer and Holly Day

November 24, 2012

I couldn’t help but ponder throughout this book what an absurdly poor title it has. This book covers a quite complex and difficult subject. At times, music theory starts to sound an awful lot like another branch of advanced mathematics. I could just imagine all the long-haired artist types at the Berklee College of Music being forced to take a very rigorous subject and being baffled. This topic could be ridiculously tough. There were some parts of this book I just barely understood. Since I have a graduate school degree, that doesn’t happen often. I was grateful there wasn’t going to be a test on the subject.

I did get some fundamental ideas out of this work, like the Circle of Fifths. I think reading it helped me to be a better musician and to understand what I am hearing a little better. I just need to go back and reread it and see if it makes more sense the second time. I am trying to get to the point where I can arrange popular music to fit the skills of the family members we have who can play instruments. There is no music arranged for cello, guitar and accordion, so I need to get to the point where I can do that. It’s workable, but it would help if I could understand music theory a little better.


From → My music

  1. Georgann Greene permalink

    Worthy goal!

  2. Perhaps we expect too much from this type of book. I remember reading HTML for Dummies many years ago and had similar difficulty until I realised I needed to back my efforts with more of the basics. Any theory book that sets out to keep its size within reasonable limits must assume certain elementary skills on the part of the reader. My own book is so large it was considered uneconomic to produce by mainstream publishers because of its niche market. My only criticism of this very interesting and enterprising series of books is that the authors spend too much time trying to be funny. Humour (humor in USA), like robbing banks, is a job for the pro’s.

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