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I've searched for previously asked question about the recommendations but all those questions focus on some specific topics in music analysis. e.g. Bach's Fugue or Jazz, etc. So, this is not duplicate.

I've been learning to play the piano for almost 12 years (I'm 16 in Grade 10, now). So far, I think I already mastered most fundamental concepts and terminologies in basic music theory by self-studying some books. So I feel that now is the best time for me to start learning music analysis. From other people's posts, David Lewin's Studies in music with text and Schenker's Five Graphic Music Analyses might be two potential choices, but I'm not sure if it's too "advanced" for a beginner in music analysis. Also, It'll be aprreciated if someone could recommend something because my highschool doesn't offer music higher level course this year, and the music teacher doesn't reply my email, so I've got no idea of how to start.


Q: Are the two potential choices too advanced?

Q: Any recommendation? You're welcome to state different opinions.


Thank you very much for your time and efforts.

Lastly, if this happens to be similar to some question asked before, please link it with my question and I'll close it.

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  • Is this now a shopping site, too? Can someone confirm this, please?
    – cmp
    Jun 24 '20 at 18:42
  • Welcome to the site Kevin. Unfortunately asking for off-site resources including books is off-topic. I know you asked this previously in our chat and did not get quick feedback, but that is the best place to asks for resources like this. To find out more about the site take the tour and read the FAQ.
    – Dom
    Jun 24 '20 at 23:48
  • @cmp I don't understand why my question are related to shopping. I need some help on how to begin with music analysis and some recommendation of books, in particular. and I explained the reason for this. Besides, please notice that I'm not asking "is it cheap" but "is it too advanced", "what will be suitable for a beginner". You could say it's a little bit off-topic as what Dom pointed out, but it's not about shopping.
    – Kevin.S
    Jun 24 '20 at 23:49
  • @Dom Ok, sorry for that, I'll read the link...... but I think I've got some suggestions below. I know I should not ask reference-request question but I found some users doing this and also, I got no response in the chat room, so finally I decided to ask one because it seemed that nobody wants to help me. But fortunately, it's changed.
    – Kevin.S
    Jun 24 '20 at 23:52
  • @KevinS Ask this on Reddit, you’ll likely get some responses :-)
    – cmp
    Jun 25 '20 at 6:00
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The level of analysis in Lewin's book varies from things that are relatively straightforward to quite advanced (graduate level). It's a very good book, but I'm not sure it's a good intro to music analysis on its own.

Schenker's analyses require an understanding of Schenkerian theory, basically a specialized graphical method that intends to show "deeper structure" that underlies larger pieces of music. Unfortunately, the graphic music analyses book is pretty much just a set of those graphs (with little explanatory text). Without a thorough background in the methodology used to produce those graphs (and what all the symbols mean), it's probably going to be hard to figure out what's going on or get much out of the graphs.

Anyhow, it really depends on what exactly you're interested in with music analysis. There are a lot of specialized books that could be introductions to various kinds of analysis, but I think there are relatively few that survey all of that well.

For example, one course that many undergraduates in music will take after basic harmony/counterpoint/intro theory courses is a class in musical form. That's generally also a course that introduces students to music analysis, as form gets at the "bigger picture" of how pieces are put together. One somewhat recent book that has a lot of details and examples (as well as an accompanying website with most of the examples for study) is William Caplin's Analyzing Classical Form. (That is itself an expansion on his book Classical Form that's more of a summary intended for an advanced audience.) But even that book has limitations, as it's really focused on music of the classical period (mostly Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven) for its examples. But the patterns it discusses are a baseline for analyzing much later music too.

But form is only one part of learning music analysis. As I said, I find it hard to recommend a book to serve as a general introduction, and many books with titles like "music analysis" are often quite limited, frequently focusing on harmonic theory or Schenkerian theory. Or they are mostly anthologies of pieces meant to be used as a basis for analysis with an experienced teacher as guide.

A few options that come to mind, though:

  1. Deborah Stein's Engaging Music: Essays in Music Analysis is aimed at an (upper level) undergraduate audience and has mostly shorter analytical essays written by well-known music theorists specifically intended to be understood by those without a lot of experience in analysis. These give a broad survey of many different types of music analysis and ways of looking at music. (Unfortunately, the book is a bit pricey.)

  2. Aside from that, Nicholas Cook's A Guide to Musical Analysis is a bit old (1992), but gives a broad survey of analytical ideas. However, it's also at times aimed a bit higher in level than the essays in the Stein book.

  3. Many of Cook's ideas were challenging the status quo at the time the book was written, but a lot of his approaches have become mainstream since then. Another book written around the same time that takes a more traditional approach to an overview of analysis is Dunsby and Whittall's Music Analysis: In Theory and Practice.

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  • Thank you very much! This really gives me a much better overview about the whole thing. Thanks!
    – Kevin.S
    Jun 24 '20 at 23:58
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I'd strongly suggest HARMONY IN PRACTICE by Anna Butterworth published by ABRSM.

There's lots of explanation and 180 exercises and you can study it on your own. I think you'll be ready for Grade 8 harmony if you get to the end of the book.

If you pace yourself and decide to do it over the course of a year or some realistic timescale, I'm sure you'll do fine.

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  • Thank you for your recommendation, I'll try that, definitely. (also will consider to accept this later). Just one question, I don't understand what is Grade 8 harmony, is it a kind of measurement?
    – Kevin.S
    Jun 24 '20 at 14:35

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