If I'm looking for Music Theory on Google I find articles, tutorials and sites that explain the basics.
However, this won't allow me to really master Music Theory and be able to look up advanced things.

So, I'm wondering if there are in-depth music theory books that can serve as a compendium? Why do you think these books are in-depth? Please try to include a summary and experience you've had with it.

  • I think that this question would be easier to understand if you did not use the term 'lexicon'; in the present form, it is not clear to me why you would be asking for a music theory book instead of a music dictionary. – David LeBauer May 9 '11 at 2:56
  • I agree with @David; lexicon is probably not the best word here. Perhaps it is more appropriate in your native language. :) Changing it to "guide" might work better. – Noldorin May 9 '11 at 3:46
  • In Dutch they call it "naslagwerk", which is also called a "lexicon". Apparently, when I split it up I get "naslag werk" which translates into "reference book", which is also called a "compendium". This should be a more clear word to explain what I'm after, I've adjusted my question... – Tamara Wijsman May 9 '11 at 9:55
  • Not a book, but a really good introduction to basic musical theory, scales, chords, and synthesis is available at angelfire.com/in2/yala/index.htm – naught101 Jul 3 '12 at 7:09
  • 2
    This is an external resources question – topo Reinstate Monica Apr 13 '18 at 8:35

These are the books & online resources I like, and these go way beyond basic tricks.

Book: Theory of Harmony by Arnold Shoenberg

Shoenberg is one of the most influential composers of 20th century. This book raises some fundamental questions about music. See also: Structrual Functions of Harmony

Books: Walter Piston's Counterpoint, ... (actually, this list is endless. Read below)

Web: https://www.webdepot.umontreal.ca/Usagers/belkina/MonDepotPublic/ABWritingNAV.html

Contemporary composer Alan Belkin has written very interesting articles on Form, Harmony, Counterpoint etc. His site has the articles with score snippets with audio. free!

These articles don't teach the rudiments, or any specifics on a given topic (like a chord progression, or a particular Form such as sonata), but try to explore the underlying principles and their implications.

Web: http://imslp.org/wiki/Category:Music_theory

IMSLP has many public domain books on Music Theory.

Some Universities/Conservatories post some useful resources online. I compiled a list of similar resources and posted them in my blog post

If you are looking for a "one book that has everything you need to know", probably you are going to be disappointed. But there are soooooooooo many books that are quite resourceful.

If you intend to master theory, probably you'll have to pick up a book, read and work out for a couple of years at least. Again, probably you'll end up reading more than one book. The term Theory itself is quite broad. Form, Harmony, Counterpoint, Orchestration ... all for a particular style of music (say western classical tradition), and there are other styles of music as well (Jazz ...)

Good luck!

| improve this answer | |
  • +1 Ah, I haven't looked at it at that way. Looking for the individual topics instead is a good idea... :) – Tamara Wijsman May 9 '11 at 10:02

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.