Bending the Rules of Music Theory: Lessons from Great Composers, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Bending the Rules of Music Theory

Lessons from Great Composers, 1st Edition

By Timothy Cutler


314 pages

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For students learning the principles of music theory, it can often seem as though the tradition of tonal harmony is governed by immutable rules that define which chords, tones, and intervals can be used where. Yet even within the classical canon, there are innumerable examples of composers diverging from these foundational "rules." Drawing on examples from composers including J.S. Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Brahms, and more, Bending the Rules of Music Theory seeks to take readers beyond the basics of music theory and help them to understand the inherent flexibility in the system of tonal music. Chapters explore the use of different rule-breaking elements in practice and why they work, introducing students to a more nuanced understanding of music theory.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: "Rules" / Chapter 2: Consonance and Dissonance / Chapter 3: Chord Construction / Chapter 4: Voice Leading I: Parallel Fifths / Chapter 5: Voice Leading II: Parallel Octaves and Other Procedures / Chapter 6: Harmonic Syntax I: Contrapuntal Chord Function / Chapter 7: Harmonic Syntax II: More Unorthodox Progressions / Chapter 8: Deviant Harmonies I: Forbidden and Functionally Flexible Chords / Chapter 9: Deviant Harmonies II: 6/4 Triads / Chapter 10: Aberrant Nonharmonic Tones I: Analytical Conundrums / Chapter 11: Aberrant Nonharmonic Tones II: Textbook Deviations / Chapter 12: Tonal Transgressions I: Beginnings and Endings / Chapter 13: Tonal Transgressions II: Plurality and Implication / Chapter 14: Oddities and Ends

About the Author

Timothy Cutler is Instructor and Chair of Music Theory at the Cleveland Institute of Music.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MUSIC / General
MUSIC / Instruction & Study / Theory