Carroll's Music Store

Composition Theory

A Resource Page for Aspiring Composer

Mar 9, 2012

This page is intended to provide you with resources for learning how to compose music. It really isn't all that hard, if you already know how to read music. If you don't know how to read music, this page is probably not for you.

Assuming, therefore, that you already know to read music, there are four levels of learning required:

Actually, the first two levels are usually combined under the subject of Harmony Theory. I am not going to spend much time on this hear. My main interest is Counterpoint. (In fact, I've written a little treatise on the main ideas behind traditional counterpoint. You can find it here on this website.) But I'll provide some good references to books on harmony theory that contain all the interval theory you'll need. You'll need at least three good books in your library if you are serious about music composition and arranging: One on harmony, one on counterpoint and one on orchestration. Three classic references are the books by Walter Piston. Here are links to two of those books:

Harmony: Counterpoint: Amazon doesn't seem to carry Piston's book on Orchestration. It might be out of print. As an alternative, consider the excellent and classic work by the famous Russian composer Rimsky-Korsakov:

You might find the language style of the Rimsky-Korsakov book a little antiquated and long-winded; after all, it was written in the 19th century!

Here's a cool wall chart by Mel Bay that summarizes the basic principles of harmony theory. You can hang on the near your workplace for handy reference.

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