Theory for Today's Musician: 2nd Edition (Hardback) book cover

Theory for Today's Musician

2nd Edition

By Ralph Turek, Daniel McCarthy


720 pages

Look Inside Companion Website
Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Hardback: 9780415663328
pub: 2013-12-04
eBook (VitalSource) : 9780203071397
pub: 2014-07-16
from $28.98

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The package (ISBN 978-0-415-73036-5) contains the second edition of Theory for Today’s Musician (ISBN: 978-0-415-66332-8) and the Theory for Today’s Musician Workbook (ISBN: 978-0-415-66333-5). The package is available for print books only.

Theory for Today’s Musician, Second Edition, recasts the scope of the traditional music theory course to meet the demands of the professional music world, in a style that speaks directly and engagingly to today’s music student. It uses classical, folk, popular, and jazz repertoires with clear explanations that link music theory to musical applications. The authors help prepare students by not only exploring how music theory works in art music, but how it functions within modern music, and why this knowledge will help them become better composers, music teachers, performers, and recording engineers.

This broadly comprehensive text merges traditional topics such as part-writing and harmony (diatonic, chromatic, neo-tonal and atonal), with less traditional topics such as counterpoint and musical process, and includes the non-traditional topics of popular music songwriting, jazz harmony and the blues. Written by an experienced textbook author and new co-author, both active classroom teachers for many years, Theory for Today’s Musician is the complete and ideal theory text to enable today’s student to accomplish their musical goals tomorrow.

New Features to the Second Edition:

  • An expanded unit on form that includes introductory chapters on sonata & rondo, to prepare students for learning form
  • New "Back to Basics" online drills, keyed to the text, allowing students to brush up their fundamentals as needed
  • New musical examples, including over 80 new musical excerpts from both art and popular music repertoires
  • Expanded in-chapter exercises to promote and facilitate classroom interaction
  • Carefully edited in response to market demands to create a more streamlined, flexible text
  • New audio of musical examples (for both text and workbook), 50% re-recorded for improved audio quality
  • An updated and relocated Chapter 33 on song composition in the jazz and popular folk styles, applying principles of text setting, melody composition/harmonization
  • Companion website that houses online tutorial with drills of basic concepts


The second edition of Theory for Today’s Musician is indeed apropos for today’s music student, and is an improvement on an already well-designed theory text. The book offers a logical and thorough presentation of music theory concepts, leaving no stone unturned. One if its greatest attributes, musical examples are drawn not only from the standard classical repertoire, but from musical theater, popular music, traditional tunes, and jazz, so the book is relevant for any musician, regardless of specialization.

--Eric Alexander, University of Northern Colorado

Theory for Today’s Musician by Ralph Turek is a clearly-written, easy-to-follow textbook for students. The author’s use of creative analogies and musical examples taken from a variety of genres and styles, combined with a bit of humor, will undoubtedly help students connect with a subject that too often seems distant and difficult to them.

--Vicki Curry, James Madison University

I have found that this textbook helps students understand important musical concepts by making connections between classical, jazz, and popular music. The authors use familiar sounds to help the students grasp traditional principles. This textbook has been especially helpful for our music education majors who must pass a state-wide standardized exam that includes jazz and popular music. The integration of lead sheet symbols with traditional figured bass symbols has given our students the skills they need to succeed in today's musical environment.

-Randy Earles, Idaho State University

Theory for Today’s Musician’s carefully considered musical examples, drawn proportionately from "classical" and popular genres, clearly demonstrates the theoretical concepts students struggle to understand. Turek’s entertaining writing encourages even the most reluctant student to read the text. The text encourages students to think creatively and actively. As a result, students learn to use their ears and then understand the "rules" of music theory. This should be the standard among theory textbooks.

--David Hanan, University of Central Oklahoma

This updated edition of Theory for Today’s Musician will be popular with both students and teachers. The writing style is clear and direct, the musical examples are selected from standard "classical" repertoire as well as popular tunes, and the student exercises are varied, creative, and well thought out. The chapters on song writing and jazz will help to create a well-rounded student with a solid foundation in music theory. The Turek text will be a great addition to the theory classroom.

--Leslie Odom, University of Florida

Ralph Turek hones Theory for Today’s Musician for the 21st-century student by using straightforward and concise writing, new and clear examples from classics to jazz and beyond, combined with abundant drills and exercises for student mastery throughout the text and the workbook.

--Elaine Rendler, George Mason University

Theory for Today’s Musician’s engaging writing style sparks the imagination and curiosity of students and encourages them to read on their own. It approaches music theory in such a way that the concepts and terminology covered may be applied equally well across a wide range of musical styles, and its well-placed examples demonstrate over and over again how useful these concepts can be to understanding and performing music, regardless of whether that music is by Bach, Beethoven, Bartók, or Brubeck.

--Matt Santa, Texas Tech University

Table of Contents

Part 1: In Lieu of Fundamentals 1. Assorted Preliminaries 2. Intervals Part 2: Diatonic Harmonies 3. Basic Harmonic Structures 4. Musical Shorthand: Lead Sheets and Figured Bass 5. Harmonies of the Major and Minor Scales 6. Cadences/ Harmonic Rhythm Part 3: Melody 7. Melodic Pitch and Rhythm 8. Embellishing Tones 9. Melodic Form Part 4: Voice Leading 10. Melodic Principles of Part Writing/The Outer Framework 11. The Melodic Factor in Four-Voice Part Writing/Voicing and Connecting Chords 12. The Chorale/Part Writing with Root-Position Triads 13. Part-Writing with Triads in Inversion 14. Part-Writing Seventh Chords Part 5: Basic Chromatic Harmony 15. Secondary Function I 16. Secondary Function II 17. Modulation I Part 6: Counterpoint 18. The Art of Countermelody 19. The Fugue Part 7: Advanced Chromatic Harmony 20. Mixing Modes 21. Altered Pre-Dominants 22. Other Chromatic Harmonies 23. Modulation II 24. Harmonic Extensions and Chromatic Techniques Part 8: Form 25. Binary and Ternary Forms 26. Introduction to Sonata Form 27. Introduction to the Rondo Part 9: Music in the Twentieth-Century and Beyond 28. Syntax and Vocabulary 29. New Tonal Methods 30. Atonality and Serialism 31. Harmonic Principles in Jazz 32. The Blues 33. Shaping a Song Appendix A. Pitch Appendix B. Rhythm Appendix C. Basic Lead-Sheet Symbols Appendix D. Part-Writing Guidelines. Glossary. Credits. Index.

About the Authors

Ralph Turek is a theorist, composer, author, jazz pianist, Professor Emeritus of The University of Akron, and a veteran of thirty-five years of teaching in the music theory classroom. He is known for his textbook Elements of Music, which was previously used in theory and analysis courses for over twenty years in the U.S. and abroad.

Daniel McCarthy, a familiar name in contemporary music, has over 100 published compositions and numerous recordings of his music. He is Director of Composition Studies at The University of Akron School of Music.


Subject Categories

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