Kris Ellingsen

Clear a space immediately in your music library for Garage Band Theory. It’s not likely, though, that this excellent book will sit on the shelf for long. I’m guessing that your copy, like mine, will either take up a position on your music stand, flagged with sticky notes and paperclips, or perhaps lie on the floor in your favorite practice nook, splayed out flat (thanks to the practical ring binding) and stained with the coffee cup rings that indicate a long and satisfying relationship.

Whether you are just beginning to play music – or, like me, are a classical player who missed school the day everyone got together and learned to play by ear for fun – Garage Band Theory is the last book you’ll need to buy for a very long time. It offers multiple entry points into the vast world of applied music theory and is an entertaining read from start to finish. It’s packed with technical information and exercises that are woven together with anecdotes and historical perspectives.

The book starts out with an introduction to basic music notation and progresses through chapters dedicated to counting, intervals, scales, chords, and harmonic progressions. There are quizzes for the studious and an excellent index. Pages and pages of inspiring quotes from famous musicians and other creative souls offer relief when the learning curve gets steep. Throughout the book, the author’s welcoming, witty, and wise voice provides a running commentary that functions rather like a private lesson in print.

Every line of music written in standard notation is accompanied by at least one corresponding line of tablature. Often there are multiple tabs to cover other instruments or alternative fingerings or voicings, and accompanying CDs provide ear-training and improvisation opportunities. The last couple of chapters form a comprehensive conclusion clarifying most remaining mysteries … at least the ones that involve theory, technique and practice. Regarding the mystery surrounding your own particular relationship with Music, this book gives you the tools, and the tool sharpeners, to do that work on your own.