Basic Theory for Musicians Who Don't Read: Contents & Links

This series of posts is written for a very specific audience, unlike most of what I write. It is mainly geared toward musicians who don't read music, though of course anyone can read it who thinks they might be interested in the subject. The final link, "Harmonics and the Science Behind Music Theory," is the post most likely to appeal to non-musicians, particularly after the opening section. The content is considerably more interesting than the title is. Seriously. 

If you read the final chapter and try the singing wow thing, please let me know if it works for you. Thank you.

Have a look. Or don't. It's a resource and, unlike any others I know about (my knowledge of them is limited), it is not geared toward people who haven't played, it is not geared toward children, and it is not geared toward teaching a skill. It is geared toward giving the kind of guys I play with information that they'd find useful and, mostly, to filling in gaps in such a way as to suddenly make things make sense.  

There are six posts in all, all on Our Salon. I've provided links to each of them here, along with a quick synopsis of what's in each. 

I wrote and edited these posts over the last two or three days. What set this off was a chance meeting with a high school musician in my Temple who was about to go onto an audition for his school's jazz band without knowing how to read music and having a very scant theoretical background. So, I spent 45 minutes or so giving him some basics so he wouldn't be completely lost when he did this. I play with a lot of musicians who don't read, and I know more of them here online, so it got me thinking, and this is the result. 

I put the whole series of links onto a single post because, if a musician wants to revisit these, he/she can favorite this post and have easy continuing access to the series. In the long run, this post may get more favorites than ratings or comments because it's a resource. This table of contents post is also available on Open Salon, but the posts they link to are only on Our Salon. 

If you do read this and end up with any questions, you know where to find me. 

Table of Contents and Links
Basic Theory for Musicians Who Don't Read 

The first chapter includes what an octave is (in theory and in physics), what frequency means, what an interval is, half steps, whole steps, basic scales, accidentals. 

The second chapter is a beginning to reading music but strictly concentrating on pitch, not time, so staff, clef (treble), minor scales, ledger lines, key signatures (just the basics), relative minor. 

The third chapter is about intervals (thirds, fourths, fifths, etc.) and the basics of chords. 

The fourth chapter is about reading music in terms of time instead of pitch. Different kinds of notes, different kinds of rests, time signatures, bar lines, ties.

The fifth chapter is about the cycle of fifths. Short chapter. This chapter makes keys and key signatures make more sense. 

The sixth chapter is called Harmonics and the Science Behind Music Theory. This is the chapter where you're most likely to say "I didn't know that" and actually think what you're saying that about was cool to learn. This is also the chapter likely to be most interesting to people who aren't musicians, particularly once you get past the first part. (A lot of this is stuff I developed for my job to explain certain things about sound to people who don't know much about it. You won't find anything remotely like this anywhere else.)


Views: 211

Comment by Arthur James on March 30, 2014 at 12:53pm


entering nursing home...

koshersaami ` weep sadly.

kosher salami ` sob quietly.

Kosh Wail in` B` burp-o?

Comment by Arthur James on March 30, 2014 at 1:01pm


You have `3 ' views here.

Over @ Salon` page `1 '

you have a few ` reads,

but no` comments` yet.

Did you read @` open?

You read @` 3rd` open

salon's page? Read?


Where's the deleted:


Open Salon` Art James

blog & Salon's` deletes?




O. = $45 X 2=

that's $90.00.

Ya give refund?

Customer right?


where's ` free:


goat gouda blueberry

Art James, Arthur James,

and avatar ` clown sense?

Comment by koshersalaami on March 30, 2014 at 1:02pm

What nursing home?

I play music in one for services on Friday afternoons most weeks, but it doesn't typically involve weeping.

Except maybe once, just after I left, because a woman I knew in there collapsed and died while my son and I were on our way to the parking lot after services. I wrote about that:

Comment by Jonathan Wolfman on March 30, 2014 at 1:18pm

This is just terrific. 

Comment by koshersalaami on March 30, 2014 at 1:29pm

How many of these have you read? The last one is definitely the best for non-musicians, because there's stuff in there hardly anyone knows about. Also, there's a sort of exercise in that one, and I'm really curious if anyone tries it and it works. 

Comment by Arthur James on March 30, 2014 at 11:22pm



Comment by koshersalaami on March 31, 2014 at 4:45am
Canasta? My great aunt's game. Never learned it
Comment by Arthur James on March 23, 2015 at 1:40pm



Can You re-post

your Big Salon's

First Ever Post?


Comment by koshersalaami on March 23, 2015 at 2:08pm
I don't remember what Big Salon ever took of mine. I think one post but I don't remember which one.
Comment by Arthur James on March 23, 2015 at 2:11pm


lost memory?

mind go next?

You'll be okay?


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Enough Already

Posted by koshersalaami on April 19, 2018 at 4:00am 12 Comments

ein einfaches Leben

Posted by keith cooper on April 18, 2018 at 11:19am 0 Comments

eenzaamheid en lonleiness

Posted by keith cooper on April 18, 2018 at 10:30am 2 Comments

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