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Which music theory for dummies books are best?

Making your own music or learning how to play an instrument can be incredibly rewarding. Music is a powerful force to the human brain and has been used for decades to translate feeling into beats and rhythms.

While it is possible to pick up an instrument and start playing, it will only get you so far. That is why you need some resources to help you along, like the Music Theory For Dummies book. It covers everything aspiring musicians need to know for making better songs and compositions.

What to know before you buy a music theory for dummies book

Relevant to your instrument

Music theory is largely the same no matter what instrument you play, but there will come a time when you need to branch out. Keep in mind which instrument you want to master or use in your future compositions, and get a music theory book that will allow you to easily continue with that instrument.

The book’s format

Books are no longer only available on printed paper, and the same goes for publications on music theory. Electronic versions of music theory books are available, but keep in mind how you’d read it when sitting in front of your instrument. In most cases, a paperback or hardback book will be more manageable, and you don’t have to contend with battery power.

The content of the book

This might seem obvious, but make sure that your chosen music theory book has all the content that you need. Ask yourself if you need a book on music theory specifically or if you need something a bit more basic. Music theory is rather difficult at first, and many musicians learn how to play their instruments by simply playing every day. 

What to look for in a quality music theory for dummies book

Up-to-date with current trends

With such a difficult topic, it is vital that all the references and examples given are current. There is no use for a music theory book if it uses outdated techniques and song examples, as that will only lead to further confusion. Music theory constantly evolves, and while concepts largely remain the same, there are much better ways to explain them through included audio files or videos.

Easy to follow

Coupled with using current trends, the examples and explanations need to be easy to follow. Especially for musicians who are new to music theory, the concepts can be hard to grasp if the language used isn’t appropriate for the skill level. A quality music theory book will successfully take the subjects and drill them down to comprehensible snippets. 

Knowledgeable authors

Through self-publishing books, almost anybody online can release a book on music theory, but that doesn’t mean that the publication can help you on your journey. A quality music theory book for dummies will be authored by highly knowledgeable people or professional musicians who can accurately explain what you need to know.

How much you can expect to spend on a music theory for dummies book

The average price for a book on music theory will depend on the subjects covered, when it was released and which formats it is available in. Most music theory books are available in paperback and Kindle, and they retail for between $15-$20. 

Music theory for dummies book FAQ

What formats are music theory books available?

A. The most common format for music theory for dummies books is paperback. That is because it’s easier to read something on printed paper while sitting at an instrument than it would be to read it on a Kindle.

What skill level do you need to be able to use a music theory book?

A. Music theory is a complex subject, and many professional performers still struggle with it. You would need at least a basic understanding of music and the instrument you want to play. 

What are the best music theory for dummies books to buy?

Top music theory for dummies book

Music Theory For Dummies

Music Theory For Dummies

What you need to know: A comprehensive look at everything you need to know.

What you’ll love: Whether you are a music student or a seasoned professional, this book will teach you everything you need to know about your craft. It covers musical concepts, the technical aspects of music-making and the fundamentals of reading music scores. The book aims to break down complex theories into manageable chunks and goes over major and minor scales, intervals, pitches and clefs. 

What you should consider: Some users indicated that certain concepts can be explained in simpler manners.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top music theory for dummies book for the money

Music Composition For Dummies

Music Composition For Dummies

What you need to know: The perfect book if you want to compose your own musical scores.

What you’ll love: This book aims to prove that you don’t have to be Mozart to compose beautiful music. By explaining simple musical theory concepts, you can turn your hums and whistles into meaningful songs. It explores things like the right tempo and rhythms, melodies and chord progression and how to incorporate different instruments and vocals.

What you should consider: You’ll need a basic understanding of music theory to get the most from this book.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Guitar Theory For Dummies

Guitar Theory For Dummies

What you need to know: A must-have for guitar players who want to go beyond the basics.

What you’ll love: Knowing all the chords and scales for playing guitar is great, but if you want to go further than the basics, you’ll need to dive deep into the theory of it, and that is exactly what this book is all about. It aims to help guitar players with musical composition, root numbers, keys, and theory applications. It takes a look at popular songs for reference so that you can build your own scores. The book is accompanied by audio tracks and video instructions.

What you should consider: It might not be the easiest starting point for guitar players who don’t already have a basic understanding of music theory.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Charlie Fripp writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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