11 Best Music Theory Books Update 05/2022

Best Music Theory Books

Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain | Best Music Theory Books

Musicophilia Tales of Music and the Brain

In Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain [Amazon Link], there’s a mix of music and neuroscience that was a big hit! Author: Oliver Sacks wrote this book.

Sacks looks into how music affects the brain and how it affects people.

One user’s comment on Amazon: “An eye-opener into the world of music therapy, and a thoughtful work that shows how music can help people with neurological and neurological diseases.”

How Music Works | Best Music Theory Books

[Amazon Link] is a book by David Byrne, the lead singer of the Talking Heads. It’s a creative look at how music works and why it can be so powerful.

Among other things, there are chapters on how technology (both analog and digital) affect the way music is made, the power of curation, and the history of music, among many other things.

One user on Amazon said: “As the book goes on, Byrne talks a lot about how to record music and how to make money with music.”

The Study of Counterpoint

Many of the world’s best composers, including Bach, have used this book [Amazon Link], which was first published in 1725. Its ideas still apply to today’s musicians.

This book talks about counterpoint in great detail (a melody played in conjunction with another).

For a book that only has 160 pages, counterpoint techniques and rules are explained very clearly and quickly. The book is written in a clear, analytical way.


There is a book on music theory called Hooktheory I: Music Theory that says it’s “intuitive and modern.” A lot of the examples come from well-known songs that you might have heard on the radio.

In each chapter, you’ll learn about “the building blocks of music,” harmony, melody, and inversions. Skill-building exercises are in the book, and they use an easy-to-read music format that is better than sheet music.

Music theory and writing songs are two things that anyone who wants to learn more about should check out the Hooktheory site as well.

Silence | Best Music Theory Books

Silence Lectures and Writings

Silence: Lectures and Writings [Amazon Link] by the famous experimental composer John Cage has had a big impact on the way many musicians think. The book came out in 1961, and many musicians have been influenced by it. From 39 to 1961, Cage wrote many essays and lectures called Silence, which are in this book.

Cage can be a little hard to understand at times, but his ideas have stayed important, especially his emphasis on the smart use of silence to make the perfect melody.

SH: Even if you don’t like John Cage’s music, reading this book might change your mind or at least make you appreciate him in a new way.

The Joy of Music | Best Music Theory Books

Leonard Bernstein’s first book, The Joy of Music [Amazon Link], isn’t written in the traditional academic way that books on classical music are written. The first few chapters are written in the style of conversations about music between Bernstein and a group of people who aren’t real.

There are chapters on jazz, musical comedy, Bach, opera, and many other things in this book.

“If you can’t read music, you’ll enjoy getting CDs of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, Brahms’ First Symphony, and Bach’s St. Matthew Passion before you curl up with this book.” It will make Bernstein’s descriptions even more exciting, and it will make them come to life for you.

Tonal Harmony

For more than 30 years, Tonal Harmony [Amazon Link] by American music theorist Kostka has been praised for its practicality and ease of use by musicians, students, and teachers of all kinds. This book is used in a lot of music classrooms all over the world.

Tonal Harmony has chapters on the elements of pitch, rhythm, triads, diatonic chords, voice leading, harmonic progression, inversion, cadences, and other things that make music sound good.

McGraw-Hill Education’s Connect® with SmartBook format has been added to the list (a digital version of the textbook, with interactive exercises and assignments).

Harmonic Experience | Best Music Theory Books

Musician W. A. Mathieu wrote Harmonic Experience [Amazon Link], which is a book about harmony. It starts with the basics of harmony and moves on to some of the most complicated modern progressions.

The book talks about octaves, major thirds, harmonic relationships, mixed modes, chromatic pairs, triads, diesis, cadence, and many other things, too.

He came up with a way to combine the ancient harmonic system of just intonation with the modern twelve-tone temperament system.

Theory of Harmony | Best Music Theory Books

Theory of Harmony

[Amazon Link] The Theory of Harmony [Amazon Link] by famed Austrian composer Arnold Schoenberg explains how music, theory, art, science, and architecture are all linked together.

If you read this book, you might not learn much about harmony. You might learn more about form, aesthetics and even about life. It was first published in 1948, and it is still one of the most important books on music theory.

“This book is for people who want to learn music theory on their own.” If you spend a lot of time studying it and rereading any parts that you don’t understand, it will take you a long time to finish, but your knowledge of music and harmony will be far more in-depth.

Music Theory for Computer Musicians | Best Music Theory Books

This is a more up-to-date music theory book for DJs, electronic music producers, and musicians who write computer music. It is called Music Theory for Computer Musicians on Amazon.

The book has chapters on musical sound, notes, scale, rhythm, score editing, meter, chords, keys, triads, root movement, diatonic modes, intonation, and more. The book also talks about how to read music.

: “It’s easy to read and has a lot of good information.” It can be very easy to come up with new ideas when you look at scale diagrams.

Get Musical Instrument Insurance | Front Row Instrument Insurance | Insurance for Musicians

The more music theory books you read, the more likely it is that you have some musical instruments in your home. If you have valuable instruments, you should think about getting musical instrument insurance to protect them.

Front Row’s insurance for musical instruments is a good choice if you want to protect your guitars, violins, drums, and other instruments. On the instrument insurance site, you can learn more about the different types of insurance that are available, or get a quote and buy a policy right away.

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