Charles Chapman,
Music Essentials: Basic Music
Theory for All Instruments

(Mel Bay, 2002)

Where was this book years ago?

For a new music student, Music Essentials: Basic Music Theory for All Instruments is a godsend. It condenses into 30 short pages nearly a year's worth of my high school music theory class. It's all here, in a clear, easy-to-read format. The book begins with the ultra-basics -- the staff, clefs, time signatures, notes and rest values -- and progresses through the structure of harmony, traids, 7th and diatonic chords and music notation.

Charles Chapman seems to contradict his jazz training when, in the section on dynamics, he states that leaving dynamics off the page "sometimes leaves too much for the individual musician to interpret." A classical musician might think so, but a jazz or folk artist? Who'd have thought?

That minor note aside, Chapman presents the information concisely and clearly. A musical novice should come away with a rough understanding of the basics of music, and it's slim enough to tuck in a music case or folder for quick reference. Even experienced musicians will find it handy at times.

[ by Tom Knapp ]
Rambles: 11 October 2002

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