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Harmonic Materials in Tonal Music: A Programed Course

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Reviews of Harmonic Materials in Tonal Music: A Programed Course

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  • Music Harmony Detail Basics Mar 3, 2011
    by Ron A L

    This is a programmed college text, a sequential workbook, in two volumes which leaves no stone unturned in detail attributes of musical harmony, unchanged since being systemetized by the masters since the 1600's.

    Good only for those who really want to know detail; it punishingly leans to the esoteric.

    But once mastered, this knowledge lasts a lifetime because science hasn't added any new harmonics since Bach and his contemporaries laid out good groundwork. Orchestral masterpieces and good popular music follow the same harmonics.

    Your task, if you choose to accept it, is synthesizing this knowledge (and sifting out the filler) into daily usable concepts (and muscle-memory patterns) which the listener finds delightful to hear, whether you're composing or improvising by ear.

    You won't get help at most universities on this; they preach dissonance, and it just doesn't sell, except to the NEA, which has a studied avoidance of conventional tonality. You do want to eat, don't you?

    Be careful that you get volume one. It is not always listed by sellers with volume number. One ISBN for volume one is 0-205-12317-1. Another ISBN for volume one seems to be 9780205123179.

    For beginners, it would also be wise to start with Professor Harder's Basic Materials in Music Theory, a single volume programmed text, excellent in overall basics, less difficult but still esoteric, and still not easy.

    You have to really want it to study at this level of precision, but it can be applied to your craft for the rest of your life. It makes light bulbs go off when listing to well-written pieces -- classical, popular, movies, and even commercials.

    There's more to music than three chords learned in three weeks and thousands of dollars in rapid-depreciation noise equipment purchased on credit. Don't bankrupt your parents, enrich yourself. Be a journeyman. The woods is full of them; just look around. It CAN be done. And this is a solid first step. Who knows where it can branch out?

    Lapeer, MI Ragtime Fan

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