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Music Theory Guided Tour

Music Theory Guided Tour

The first thing about learning music or music theory is to realize that there is a difference between intellectually knowing something, and having a visceral connection to it.  For example, Knowing that “E” is the third of “C” by having to count intervals or degrees of a scale isn’t truly knowing the information. You need to know the sound, as surely as you know color or the language you speak.  Knowing what the “3rd” is of any note instantly is essential, as is knowing that “E” is the Sharp 5 of “Ab.”  Taking it one step further on a bass or guitar you need to know where all those notes are, and be able to see those relationships.  Finally you must be able to hear these relationships within a key center.  My point being you need to know the information inside out so that it is a reflex.  Getting to this point is way past just reading a music theory book, or even passing a written test about it. It involves working in many ways to reach a point where you have the information engrained, and can use it spontaneously.

So to reach this goal I’ve created a series of books, and here they are in the order I recommend studying them.  Some of these books are in treble clef and some are not.  I should say to bass players that not learning treble clef is a very bad idea.  Bass players are often confronted with treble as is any musician.  Any musician expecting to function as a professional musician should have equal ability with both the bass and treble clef.  So the fact that some of these books are in treble clef shouldn’t sway a bass player on whether to study the course.

Music Theory Guided Tour First Steps

Music Theory Workbook for Guitar Volume One: This book comes with or without videos.  If you are someone who is weak on music theory then the video course would be better.  This book teaches you the notes and intervals used in building all chords but also makes you write out where these notes would be on a guitar or bass fingerboard.  It is 100 pages of exercises which should take about 6 months to complete but could be done in 3 months if you are serious.  There is a Music Theory Workbook for All Instruments too, for non-guitarists or bassists.  

At the same time as you are working on Music Theory Workbook for Guitar Volume One I recommend the Music Theory Interval Recognition  MP3s so you can quiz yourself on interval relationships.  You can use this anywhere you can listen to an MP3.

One further thought; along with the Music Theory Workbook for Guitar Volume One and Music Theory Interval Recognition I usually have a guitarist work on the Chord Workbook for Guitar Volume One so that they can start understanding how the chords they are learning relate to music.  This is usually accompanied by the Complete Blues Comping Both Major and Minor which has you playing the chord progressions in time as if playing a duet with someone. This will really hone your technique and time; there is no hiding place in this one.

Music Theory Guided Tour Next Step

Next is Music Theory Workbook for Guitar Volume Two  Which does the same thing with scales, showing you how they are built with 100 pages of exercises writing out where the notes are on a music clef and fingerboard.

After a student is maybe 1/2 way through Music Theory Workbook for Guitar Volume One  I often add in Harmonic Analysis. This course fits in nicely with Chord Workbook for Guitar Volume One because it analyzes the chord progressions you are learning.  This analysis teaches you how to reharmonize a chord progression and then gives you 36 chord progressions to analyze. This is crucial to build up a visceral knowledge and quick recognition of these harmonic relationships so that you can improvise reharmonization as you play; an essential skill.

I always make sure my students know their scales because scales can be used to quickly figure out music theory relationships.  i.e. if you know a Gb Major scale then you can quickly understand that “Eb” is the 6th because you have memorized the scale.  I usually start a student with scales right away and use either Essential Scales,  1st Steps for a Beginning Guitarist or the New York Guitar Method (NYGM) NYGM Primer for beginners and NYGM Volume One for more serious students. NYGM also contains both the Music Theory Workbook for Guitar Volume One and Music Theory Workbook for Guitar Volume Two information.  I should add that I always have a student play scales with the MetroDrone® so that they hear the scale in the correct key center and develop long line rhythm capabilities (feeling time in larger units).  I also have them get creative with the scales by playing them along with Jam Tracks.

Music Theory Guided Tour Related Material

Now, from the beginning, I also have a student work with Ear Training One Note Complete and Contextual Ear Training so that all these relationships can be learned aurally as well as intellectually.

Once a student learns the basic 22 scales in at least one key, and is around 80% on the Ear Training One Note I start them on Scale Analysis if they have time.  This course teaches you the relationship between scales, chord progressions and ear training and is crucial to understanding the interrelationship between your ear and your mind when thinking about scales and chords.

The above process usually continues for about one year, maybe more, depending on how much time a student has to practice.  No matter how much time you have, getting through this information methodically is crucial to good musicianship.

Music Theory Guided Tour: Taking it Up a Notch

Next I tackle arpeggios with an eye towards working on Approach Notes.  I usually have a student learn the arpeggios found in the Approach Notes and then do a massive technical study of approach notes on their instrument as well as writing out solos using the various techniques where approach notes can be used.  I consider this to be a very long study taking one to two years.  I should mention that once a student starts Approach Notes it is assumed they know their 22 scales so at this point I have students do a 20 minute warm up with either Modal Sequencing-Two Note for All Instrumentalists or  Modal Sequencing-Three Note for All Instrumentalists.  I recommend studying from these books for about 20 years.  No kidding. It’s a lot of information, so consider it a lifelong companion.

After Approach Notes a student has a choice to move into other reharmonization principles as found in Chord Workbook for Guitar Volume Two or NYGM Volume Two.  or they could move into Pitch Class Theory or other techniques such as SweepsFurther Arpeggio StudiesPentatonics, or other contemporary improvisation concepts.

This may seem like a crazy amount of stuff but if a student practices one to two hours a day religiously, they can get through the Approach Notes and the prerequisites in about five years.  Not a bad amount of time and about the same as a four year college degree which is basically what you have when you finish scales, but I include Approach Notes because they are so crucial to understanding many improvisors.

Music Theory Guided Tour Conclusion

The only thing I would add to this Music Theory Guided Tour is for guitarists: it is crucial that they play with the correct technique, so from the beginning I have them work with Guitar Technique and Physiology.  I also believe that learning to sight read allows them to explore any style of music in great depth, which will expose them to many more aspects of music.  Usually I recommend the NYGM for guitarists as a cost effective way to learn to read music, and then follow that up with the Time Studies.  Then various books like Time Transformation or 013 Hextonic Études for further sight reading.

The Historic Precedents Of This Kind Of Music Education

You might enjoy checking out the “Music Education Genealogy Chart” located on my artist’s site. You will clearly see the historic progression of pedagogy that is the basis for Muse Eek Publishing Products. Great musicians throughout history have been studying the ideas presented by which derives its content from a a lineage that stretches back to Scarlatti!

Bruce Arnold playing a harmonic on a guitar for Bruce Arnold Blog entry on Muse Eek Publishing Website Music Theory Guided Tour

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About Muse Eek

Muse-Eek Publishing Company is a publishing house with a broad focus on music education. Muse-Eek also publishes fine art and poetry books, and has its own record label, Muse-Eek Records. Our online presence, specializes in the publication of music workbooks, video courses and sound and video recordings that teach the foundation of good musicianship through groundbreaking and innovative methods along with traditional methods that have been taught for centuries. These historic methods date back through centuries of great musicians and educators. To see these interesting relationship please see Bruce Arnold's Music Education Genealogy Chart which tells you a lot about the where many of his educational ideas took root and some of the educational pillars that are evident throughout the books you find on this website. The Muse-Eek Records catalogue contains a diverse selection of music much of it by Bruce Arnold in collaboration with some of today's best players in classical, jazz, rock and avant-garde music. These are available in CD, DVD and mp3 formats. We believe in a working relationship with our music education customers; they are free to interact with the author after purchasing a book to help them through any material they don’t understand or which they need further clarification. We also have a member's area which contains a wealth of free information to help a student understand music at a deeper level and access additional files for our books. Many of our books offer cutting edge ideas regarding ear training, guitar technique, rhythm and time. These methods have a proven track record. Our main author Bruce Arnold has taught at some of the most prestigious music schools in the world, including Princeton, Dartmouth, Berklee College of Music, New England Conservatory, The New School and NYU. Along with Mr. Arnold's publications on the website he has also written books and appeared in educational DVDs for MelBay and Truefire. Over the years Mr Arnold has used his experiences with his students to develop a program that can elevate a musician's ability to world class caliber. If you have questions about any of our books or recordings please send us an email. Along with general questions about either our record label or our publishing company we also welcome questions to help a student choose the proper materials to reach their goals. We have over 300 products to help you learn any style of music and to develop your musicianship to its peak. We also make recommendations for practice schedules for students who use our methods to get the most out of their study time. This, along with personal interaction with Bruce through email, nurtures the student's ability through a closely monitored situation, ensuring there is no wasted time or misunderstanding.

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