Short story: I have started playing piano about 1.5 years ago. I miss only a few days without practise apart from being ill, on holiday, visiting family etc. I practice like crazy. My wife who actually bought a piano for my birthday present hates this idea now :/

But piano did become a part of my life :) My interest and hunger of understanding this instrument and music itself is growing. Unfortunately I thought just by listening I could become better and better. However, the more I listen the less I know and it's getting a little bit frustrating. I listen a lot of classics, classical music, above of all Chopin took me completely. Surprisingly to me (never thought it would happen) jazz also became intriguing along with R & B: I really like Stevie Wonder and Frank Sinatra etc. and before I knew them only because they were just famous.

I feel like without proper help I won't be able to fully understand the theory, such as the chord progressions, music harmony, scales etc. I'd really like to be able to analyse pieces. I know some basics like tonic, subdominants, and dominants, tonical chords in different keys, cadence of different types but it still not enough to understand more complex pieces and songs!

Because of that, please, could someone recommend any good book(s) to help me to better understand theory and harmony of music? I really feel like I am ready :p. I know it sounds crazy and perhaps the answer is "it comes with time" but I want to facilitate this progress if I can :) It is how piano is changing me. A few years ago I would not even think of things like jazz .... :)


  • This SE is about music practice and theory. I asked about books to help me with understanding theory and make my practice routine better. There are 6 people who liked this question, 5 different answers and yet this question has been marked as off topic! This s a perfect exampel of abusing someone's power to treat unfair beginners who come and ask for a help. – Celdor Mar 25 '19 at 12:53

Hi I started a year ago and was really disappointed with the very poor approach to theory that I found. I got on the internet and watched heaps , lots rocky but some really ace https://www.youtube.com/user/musictheoryguy is a brilliant teacher whose videos are short - anything over 10 minutes probably covers too much when starting. I combined this with Bill Hilton who does good videos and a book "How to Really Play the Piano " http://www.jamcast.co.uk/play-the-piano/

An absolutely invaluable resource is http://randscullard.com/CircleOfFifths/UserGuide.htm The circle of fifths is the Rosetta Stone of Western music and totally ignored by many classical teachers who think tedious rote learning is the only way.

When you are ready for the heavy stuff then Ethan Winer is your man. The PDF of his theory course is a free download and you can buy his CD or just watch the episodes covered.

Finally THE Chord Wheel by Jim Fleser a Hal-Leonard publication is great. Good Luck and Happy Easter. I find having the computer beside the piano absolutely great and yes I use headphones when my wife is around.


For jazz theory one of the best books I've ever read is The Chord Scale Theory and Jazz Harmony by B. Nettles and R. Graf. It explains a lot of useful theory with practical examples. If you want to get the most out of it, sit down and play through all the examples, so you can hear what all that theory is actually about.


There is a jazz course developed by my teacher Alexander Lavrov. You can get familiar with some his works here. The course is not standard but IMHO of good quality. It explains not only how to analyze music, but how to write your own.


Perhaps opinion based, but just wanted to throw out another resource, since you said you were looking for books.

Full disclaimer: The author is my keyboard instructor. I do not receive any compensation for recommendations.

You may want to check out (perhaps literally, these books could be in your local library):

What I like about "All About Music Theory" is that it's a thinking person's version of music theory for dummies. Fun, informative read.

The "Contemporary Music Theory" books, that'll keep you busy for a long time. Very detailed reference books.


This may not be what you really want - but one of the standard textbooks for really understanding this stuff is "tonal harmony" by Kostka

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