Essentials of Music Theory ~ Free eBook

What music student doesn’t love scales? No? Here is an easy way to learn music theory. Essentials of Music Theory: Elementary by Carl E. Gardner is a free public domain eBook that tackles the topic in a concise and easy-to-learn way.

The primary object in the following pages is to supply the teacher and student with a text book to accompany the work on instrumental or vocal technic. Because of the great amount of time required to obtain proficient technic, text books are often neglected, and, if exhaustive, are usually ignored. Brevity and conciseness characterize this volume and it is planned to meet the needs of the busy teacher and student.

By keeping it simple, a great deal can be learned with a minimal time commitment.

Another advantage of the text is that it has a view toward music appreciation. That is, it attempts to train the ear — something I wish were more the norm in our busy lives.

A further object of the text is to offer a course of preparation for the study of harmony, composition, and appreciation. Music Appreciation, as a cultural course of study, is growing in popularity and large enthusiastic classes in this subject are to be found in all our colleges. These students are frequently handicapped by poor preparation in the essential rudiments of music such as are treated in this volume.

Some of the best musicians — irrespective of their genre — have been classically trained. Those scales? Yes, those. Understanding the rudiments of music creates better musicians.

This book is best suited to students of music — those already familiar with an instrument of choice even or including their own voice.

So, with all of this in mind, the book covers:

  • Rhythm.
  • Major scales.
  • Minor scales.
  • Intervals.
  • Pitch.
  • Harmonics.

Then, we move on to ear training. The 45 listening exercises in the book are accompanied with .mp3 and MIDI files — a great help to the teacher!

When the student has finished the text, he is ready to compose music. And he will be equipped with the necessary beginning tools. The author’s book, Music Composition: A New Method of Harmony, will be a perfect next step.

Many pupils may not see the importance of some of the following text, such as the research for theoretical keys; but the results thus obtained are nothing more than the natural outcome of simple mathematical reasoning, and are inevitable if the structure of the scales is understood. Pupils should be impressed with the structure of scales rather than be taught their keys and signatures by rote. Rote methods have little to recommend them in modern pedagogical ideals, and are used principally in teaching the young. The lack of knowledge of the whys and wherefores of scales, intervals, and chords among instrumentalists and singers is appalling, and is due partly to the neglect of text books and partly to incompetent teachers.

I believe Mr. Gardner felt strongly on the subject. Take advantage of his insight.

  • To get the most from the book, have the student create a music theory notebook.
  • Copy (or print) the content of each lesson.
  • The student will come across many definitions, which can be copied into the notebook with examples.
  • There are oral and written exercises at the end that can be used for narration.

Free eBook

Additional Resources

Essentials of Music: Elementary
Carl E. Gardner
Reputable hardcover for those who are interested.

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