Theory Essentials for Today’s Musician offers a review of music theory that speaks directly and engagingly to modern students. Rooted in the tested pedagogy of Theory for Today’s Musician, the authors have distilled and reorganized the concepts from the thirty-three chapters of their original textbook into twenty-one succinct, modular chapters that move from the core elements of harmony to further topics in form and 20th-century music. A broad coverage of topics and musicals styles—including examples drawn from popular music—is organized into four key parts:

  • Basic Tools
  • Chromatic Harmony
  • Form and Analysis
  • The 20th Century and Beyond

Theory Essentials features clear and jargon-free (yet rigorous) explanations appropriate for students at all levels, ensuring comprehension of concepts that are often confusing or obscure. An accompanying workbook provides corresponding exercises, while a companion website presents streaming audio examples. This concise and reorganized all-in-one package—which can be covered in a single semester for a graduate review, or serve as the backbone for a briefer undergraduate survey—provides a comprehensive, flexible foundation in the vital concepts needed to analyze music.


  • Textbook and Workbook Package (Paperback): 9781138098756
  • Textbook Only (Hardback): 9781138708815
  • Textbook Only (Paperback): 9781138708822
  • Textbook Only (eBook): 9781315201122
  • Workbook Only (Paperback): 9781138098749
  • Workbook Only (eBook): 9781315103839 

part 1|90 pages

Basic Tools

part 2|100 pages

Chromatic Harmony

chapter 7|14 pages

Secondary Function

chapter 8|13 pages


chapter 9|15 pages

Mixing Modes

chapter 11|19 pages

Modulation II

part 3|80 pages

Form and Analysis

chapter 13|14 pages

Melodic Form

chapter 14|24 pages

Contrapuntal Forms

chapter 15|18 pages

Small Forms

chapter 16|14 pages

Sonata Form

chapter 17|8 pages

The Rondo

part 4|63 pages

The Twentieth Century and Beyond

chapter 18|16 pages

Syntax and Vocabulary

chapter 19|12 pages

New Tonal Methods

chapter 20|18 pages

Non-Serial Atonality

chapter 21|15 pages

Serial Atonality