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Steve Weiss Mallet Workshop


Scales & lines, chords & changes, phrasing & modes, oh my!

I feel a bit like the lion in The Wizard of Oz ;-) I have been sifting through the site for a few days and I have had some success at trying to learn online. I am a beginner and I know what I do not know, which is a start. I could use a recommendation for a book on the fundamentals of music theory as it relates to my level of (or absence of) knowledge of playing the vibes. Any suggestions?

PS: it would be helpful if there were exercises to help the learning in the book (or a separate book for that).


tonymiceli Tue, 05/24/2011 - 19:14

i think one thing. you have to be active, that's how you'll learn. you will find answers in books or course, but you'll find more by sifting through things yourself. you know how to learn your chords, i'm sure, and how to figure out your scales. figure them out and learn them, memorize them.

bookmark all the lessons on this site that you can handle, and go through and master each one, and post. post all the pieces you learn etc.

that's my 2 cents. the metzger book, IMHO is a great book.

Randy_Sutin Wed, 05/25/2011 - 06:49

In reply to by tonymiceli

Great book. Great advice.

I might add that it is my personal preference to consider that most of what we do on the vibes is in the world of jazz and that the harmonic/melodic piece of that is based on Western European Art Music. With that in mind, even though they don't focus on jazz specifically, the books written by Walter Piston on theory and harmony are also a great basic place to start.

All of this said, here are two things I think you can do without a book that will be VERY useful. Theory is all about learning the lexicon used to describe musical sounds and situations, so these two things will give you some serious basics to work with.

1. learn what my dad calls the "alternate letter alphabet". As you walk down the street, recite to yourself ace, bdf, ceg, dfa, egb, fac, gbd, ace... once you can do that at full speed, then learn to do four note sets aceg, bdfa, and so forth. Just add key signatures and you will have a life of ease spelling chords based on thirds, which is the bulk of the harmony you will encounter.

2. Transcribe, transcribe, transcribe. When you are done with that, transcribe some more. Learning the relationship between the marks on the page and the sound is critical. I am of the opinion that it is more important to do the transcriptions that it is to play the stuff you transcribe, but eventually you will likely want to do that too if you would like to learn what it feels like to make those sounds on your instrument. Bottom line, when you improve your ears ability to link written music with sound then read any of the aforementioned books, they will make a lot more sense because you will already know the sounds they are talking about.

Good luck.

Redders Sun, 06/05/2011 - 16:27

In reply to by Randy_Sutin

I've just posted a couple of Amazon links to two useful theory books: 'Harmony and Theory' and 'Jazzology'. I also concur with the other two posts - Jon Metzger's book is excellent!

patriciopinero Thu, 02/24/2022 - 08:50

He escuchado hablar de ese libro, parece que varios lo recomiendan aquí, muchas gracias!