Rich Robiscoe

It’s a fresh approach, a “we’re in this all together” vector not often found in theory texts. Duke Sharp makes a solid hit with a work aimed at players that want a comprehensive manual, but don’t want to wade through Walter Piston’s “Harmony”. Mr Sharp provides a user friendly platform for players of all abilities, with a special emphasis for the gigging musician looking to touch up the ‘zen’ behind that tricky chord change or progression.

A certain sense of humour is an essential part of ‘Garage Band Theory’. The perspective of a working musician gives this primer a unique vantage. This ain’t your standard Mel Bay!

A strong emphasis on analytical listening is evident throughout Garage Band Theory. In order to play by ear, a musician must be able to understand what he or she is hearing. Sharp has many tips that will help the player who can ‘hear’ a tune, yet find themselves at a loss when describing what it is they hear!

A wealth of practical examples are a feature of this work. Although copyright laws prevent  Sharp from supplying specific notation/tab for your favorite songs, the tab and notation included is deadly accurate and very helpful. Of particular interest is the chapter/section entitled ‘Song Structure/Reading the Road Map’. Over the years I’ve found that a solid knowledge of a song’s structure will help any musician play a song by ear more confidently and correctly, and Sharp’s explanations of common symbols and practices is an area often overlooked by methods primarily intended for guitarists.

As advertised, this is a theory text, and as such, has certain portions that are not as sexy as others (don’t we all), but these concepts are well thought out and easily accessible to the serious student. You may end up learning to read music despite yourself!

Mr. Sharp does not promise any miracles. Practice and repetition are as much a part of a musician as talent and a penchant for odd hairstyles. Be prepared to live with this book for a while, at three pounds and 500 plus pages, it’s a work that will take some time to assimilate.

I’ve been a gigging musician for thirty plus years now, completed a degree in Music Education in the misty past, and I find myself reaching for a guitar every time I pick up “Garage Band Theory’.