Get ready for a “paradigm shift” from THE leader of this blog. No I’m not releasing an analog hardware synth, the paradigm I’m talking about is that I will be posting series of tutorials on music theory - rudiments, harmony, and perhaps counterpoint. This article will serve as an introduction and table of content to the series, and hopefully will be updated frequently (including chapter numbers). Before that, allow me to explain why I decided to spend the time to write on these topics that are already fully covered in almost all of the theory books and blogs available.
Why another theory tutorial?
The short answer is that because most others suck.
Ok, that may have been exaggerated and insincere, written just for the visual impact. Let me paraphrase that.
My personal experience is that although there are many acceptable resources and few notable gems hidden within piles of mediocre ones, most of theory books and articles face one of the following two problems, which limits their potential as general learning resources for music theory.
The first problem is the issue with printed or digital books. Since books are written and published to sell, usually targeting a specific market - either children initiating their musical education or undergrads forced to make their purchases for lectures - they strive for attention from potential consumers. Many readers judge a book, or at least the price of a book, by its thickness to some degrees. Think about it, who would pay for a fully priced theory book that has only tens of pages? Thus to make their hard work worth more, some authors would intentionally saturate paragraphs and pages with elongated lines - a few I find even unnecessary - just to make things more complicated, so that readers will think “Oh, it sounds like something I don’t understand, must be worth reading”; Or filling with exercises, which by themselves are great, but hinder the pace of progress of the actual content, usually by splitting a simple concept into great many steps merely for more exercises.
The second problem lies within online articles. It is great that we live in an era with access to computers and the Internet, because we are able to actively search for topics and subjects that we wish to learn, quickly grasp the fundamentals within few thoughtfully phrased sentences, and consciously decide to advance into details or not. Wikipedia is a great example for such way of learning, we can usually get a basic understanding of the concept from the first paragraph, before it takes us further with historical facts and other detailed diversions. The only problem is that the contents for music theory stay at the “Definition” or “Description” stage, rather than towards anatomization for learning and training. Most articles online are not doing that though. Blog posts related to music theory are written to achieve one of two things: either an exploration of an idea or an attraction of visiting traffics. The former goes moderately in-depth into a specific and often not practical topic (though necessary and recommended for advancing musicians); The later ones are usually brief summaries or snippets from “the best-selling” theory books, aimed to have readers able to duplicate the taught contents without intellectual comprehension.
They may be great sources of materials to kill time, but might not be the best ones to learn a fundamental concept. Of course, if you know any tutorial series with very precise definition of concepts and coherent explanation, please introduce to me. I will be delighted to plagiarize on them.
I believe that learning concepts should start with very clear definition and statements, only then followed by demonstration and explanation. Thus I am writing this series, to emphasize on the learning, understanding, and applying, and omit the history, academic rigor to other sources.
I sincerely wish for the readers of this tutorial series a happy learning experience.