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A play-and-listen theory book?
#3001448 07/11/20 11:02 AM
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When my video teacher talks about theory, I am glued to the screen and absorb every little thing she tells. When I open a music theory book, I die, die! of boredom. I understand why. The book is just words.
So now I am looking for a music theory book that I need to take to my piano, with play-and-listen examples of everything. For instance, the difference between what a subdominant triad does to the music and what a dominant triad does. Then there should be a couple of notes that I should play so I can hear this difference. It doesn't need to be a book for piano players, for instance it is fine with notes on just one staff only.

Does a book like this exist or do I have to write it myself? laugh

Animisha


Playing the piano is learning to create, playfully and deeply seriously, our own music in the world.
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Re: A play-and-listen theory book?
Animisha #3001480 07/11/20 12:27 PM
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There is a few good videos on youtube about piano theory.



“To send light into the darkness of men’s hearts - such is the duty of the artist.”
- Robert Schumann

Re: A play-and-listen theory book?
Animisha #3001587 07/11/20 05:45 PM
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Most of theory up to grade 5 is essentially about notation and a few basic notions on chords. Like a subdominant chord is just a triad built on the 4th degree. How to use it is more complex. Most theory books would have examples to illustrate concepts but it is not possible to explain all the possible cases and usage in one book. But if you want to really understand harmonic theory, at some point you'll have to deal with the conceptual side of it.

Re: A play-and-listen theory book?
Animisha #3001638 07/11/20 09:22 PM
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Music Matters here and Music Theory Guy here are the best sites I have found, but are not what I think you have in mind. Recently I was searching for Part Writing information that would supplement my dry text books and I ran up against the same problem. Good tuition on theory is hard to come by and the best I could find was a Udemy course by Dr. Spondike (Music Theory Made Easy), which again I don't think this is what you are after either but as I said it was the best I could find.


Following Trying to follow the Ling Ling 40 hour method

Kawai K8 & Kawai Novus NV10


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Re: A play-and-listen theory book?
Animisha #3001655 07/11/20 11:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Animisha
So now I am looking for a music theory book that I need to take to my piano, with play-and-listen examples of everything. For instance, the difference between what a subdominant triad does to the music and what a dominant triad does. Then there should be a couple of notes that I should play so I can hear this difference.

How comfortable do you feel sitting at the piano with a theory book and making up your own exercises? Take anything you want to learn and play it as an exercise round the circle of 5ths or chromatically. I usually figure out a musical pattern and then add a backing track to give the exercise a good groove.


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Re: A play-and-listen theory book?
Animisha #3001700 07/12/20 04:25 AM
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In general, i think the issue you will run into is as follows: music is not like physics, there are no absolute rules as to how to compose a piece of music, there are practical guidelines. So what most theory books and sites will teach you is the most basic and common set of rules, which will already take you up to grade 10 or so (the harmonic tonality taught is that of the 19th century).

But as soon as you get into real pieces, you will have to deal with the specifics of each period. The way Bach is using a subdominant (and a dominant) is different from Mozart which is different from Chopin. Music theory has been evolving greatly and the practical guidelines to write music are dated. I guess for simplicity reasons most if not all theory books and sites ignore that fact. Often i see analysis of Bach music using 19th century concepts which obviously Bach could not be aware of, which sometimes leads to misinterpretation. Also there are many parts of Bach, Mozart or Beethoven which can not be understood only by applying the common harmonic theory.

I dont say that to make it overly complex but just to put in perspective the fact you obviously need to start somewhere and learn first the basic theory, but be aware that it will help you to understand simple piece or some parts of music but that is only a starting point.

Re: A play-and-listen theory book?
Groove On #3001731 07/12/20 08:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Sidokar
In general, i think the issue you will run into is as follows: music is not like physics, there are no absolute rules as to how to compose a piece of music,
Sidokar, this is exactly why I want to "play and listen"! For instance, the effect of a subdominant triad vs a dominant triad. I want to play and listen and get a feeling for it.

Originally Posted by Sidokar
learn first the basic theory, but be aware that it will help you to understand simple piece or some parts of music but that is only a starting point.
In the book that I dream about, they give the score of a simple piece, let me play it and make me understand it.

Originally Posted by Groove On
How comfortable do you feel sitting at the piano with a theory book and making up your own exercises?
Originally Posted by Animisha
Does a book like this exist or do I have to write it myself? laugh

I guess this book doesn't exist and I will need to write it, but it is hard, because I also need to learn it first!


Playing the piano is learning to create, playfully and deeply seriously, our own music in the world.
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... feeling like the pianist on the Titanic ...
Re: A play-and-listen theory book?
Animisha #3001732 07/12/20 08:12 AM
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Earlofmar: Thank you a lot for your suggestions! As you say, it is not really what I am looking for, but it can help me on my way.


Playing the piano is learning to create, playfully and deeply seriously, our own music in the world.
*
... feeling like the pianist on the Titanic ...
Re: A play-and-listen theory book?
Animisha #3001776 07/12/20 10:11 AM
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Interesting that, as I mentioned in the sticky, I got a keyboard and started learning piano exactly to learn theory (jazz etc). The idea being to play, see & hear various ideas.... All I know is, it's a long road!

Re: A play-and-listen theory book?
Animisha #3001841 07/12/20 12:44 PM
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Have you ever looked at the Keith Snell 'Fundamentals of Piano Theory' series? I'm working through that...almost done with the last one (#10).

It's a workbook. There are lots of 'playable' examples. Snippets from pieces, or simple chord progressions written out in multiple keys. I've learned a lot. Prices are reasonable at sheetmusicplus.com and there are often sales, although you'll probably want to buy the answer keys as well, so that does all add up. I really wish there was a more advanced version of this to move on to...the workbook style really works for me.

You would not need to start at book 1, which is absolute beginner. I started with book 5, since I already had some basic theory knowledge (plus 30+ years experience on other instruments).


I ❤️ Mendelssohn, Yann Tiersen, Heller
Re: A play-and-listen theory book?
Animisha #3001862 07/12/20 02:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Animisha
For instance, the difference between what a subdominant triad does to the music and what a dominant triad does. Then there should be a couple of notes that I should play so I can hear this difference.
You can start by doing lots of the right kind of listening from simple hymns that use just three chords (I, IV, V/V7), like this one:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Prthhmly0Gg

This is how it's harmonized, and listen carefully when the harmony changes (I-IV especially, then I-V and V-I):

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/82331499417647644/

Play it on the piano, and hear the effect of the chord changes.

In the end, harmony is all about hearing. Learning harmony without understanding - and hearing - how it sounds in context is like learning string theory for all its relevance to everyday life. With intent listening, you will be able to 'hear' the harmonies used in a song in your head just from the first hearing, and 'harmonize' straightforward melodies just from listening to the melody. (This is also what you have to do in the higher grades in theory exams).

Add on vi, then ii, and you have within your grasp all the basic harmonies that are to be found in the vast majority of hymns, pop and folk songs, and the simpler classical pieces.

For instance, songs like this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vrEljMfXYo

I think the mistake most adult students make is to try to learn/understand/apply everything all at once, like all those 'added-note chords' used in jazz. Start simple and develop gradually from there. If you can't 'hear' the harmony used when you listen to something simple & straightforward (like many hymns), you're not going to be able to apply their use to anything else. Similarly, if you can't "hear" the underlying harmony in a simple unharmonized tune like Happy Birthday or Silent Night, you're not going to be able to understand how harmony is used.

In music, as in everything else, start with really really simple stuff. Nothing is too simple when you're trying to develop your ear.

KISS!


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: A play-and-listen theory book?
Animisha #3002057 07/13/20 06:32 AM
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I think you will be interested in "The fifth factor" by Robijn Tilanus.
https://robijntilanus.nl/en/product/book-on-harmony-the-fifth-factor/
I really liked it. It's exactly how you describe: explaining harmony using examples to play and prompts to improvise. There's also a cd with recordings of all the examples, to use if you are not able to sightread all the examples yet.


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Re: A play-and-listen theory book?
Animisha #3002070 07/13/20 07:31 AM
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Thank you JB_PW and Bennevis, and thank you especially Muove, because the book you mention seems to be exactly what I am looking for.


Playing the piano is learning to create, playfully and deeply seriously, our own music in the world.
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... feeling like the pianist on the Titanic ...
Re: A play-and-listen theory book?
Muove #3002095 07/13/20 09:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Muove
I think you will be interested in "The fifth factor" by Robijn Tilanus.
https://robijntilanus.nl/en/product/book-on-harmony-the-fifth-factor/
I really liked it. It's exactly how you describe: explaining harmony using examples to play and prompts to improvise. There's also a cd with recordings of all the examples, to use if you are not able to sightread all the examples yet.

Wow! That's a gem! Thanks Muove!
And thanks Animisha for asking the question!


Learner
Re: A play-and-listen theory book?
Animisha #3002125 07/13/20 11:20 AM
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Does anyone know where to get this book? On the robijntilanus.nl website you can only pay by direct Netherlands banking payment. Amazon.uk has it for for £20.42 + £29.32 shipping ($62.76), which is exorbitant. I did eventually find the ISBN's (ISBN-10: 9082717484 and ISBN-13: 978-9082717488) but nowhere in the US to purchase the book.

Last edited by Pianosearcher; 07/13/20 11:22 AM.
Re: A play-and-listen theory book?
Animisha #3002201 07/13/20 02:33 PM
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Playing the piano is learning to create, playfully and deeply seriously, our own music in the world.
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Re: A play-and-listen theory book?
Animisha #3002223 07/13/20 04:16 PM
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This books sounds so interesting and so practical that I have just ordered a copy for myself.

Thanks, Animisha, for starting this query.

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: A play-and-listen theory book?
Animisha #3002241 07/13/20 04:58 PM
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Thanks. I found it there too, and ordered a copy. $40.10 including air shipment (although they are quoting 6-8 weeks delivery nonetheless). I hope it includes the companion CD, because the free download from robijntilanus website appears to be broken. Even so, the sample pages on her website looked really well done so perhaps the CD isn't essential.

Last edited by Pianosearcher; 07/13/20 04:59 PM.
Re: A play-and-listen theory book?
Pianosearcher #3002396 07/14/20 05:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Pianosearcher
I hope it includes the companion CD, because the free download from robijntilanus website appears to be broken.
Pianosearcher, the page looks horrific, but when I clicked on the black download button, I was asked to give my name and email adress, and then I got 192 mp3 files in a zip folder. smile


Playing the piano is learning to create, playfully and deeply seriously, our own music in the world.
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... feeling like the pianist on the Titanic ...

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