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Product Details

  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: For Dummies (Feb. 5 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470224215
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470224212
  • Product Dimensions: 18.8 x 1.8 x 23.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 544 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #199,383 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

From the Back Cover

Creative exercises build your composing skills

The fun and easy way to turn the tune in your head into a full-fledged composition!

Wish you could write music? You can! This friendly guide gives you everything you need to start composing, from choosing the right rhythm and tempo to writing with chords and melody to expressing your musical ideas through instruments and voices. You'll see how to create popular songs, classically structured pieces, and even film, TV, or video game soundtracks!

Discover how to:

  • Master chord progressions

  • Harmonize with melody

  • Select the right instruments

  • Write for multiple voices

  • Compose electronic music

  • Make a demo recording

About the Author

Scott Jarrett is a musician and producer who has worked with numerous artists, including Willie Nelson, Fiona Flanagan, Mary Klueh, and Keith Jarrett. He has served as music director for many live theatrical productions including the Broadway production of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. He currently runs Monkey House recording studio in Hudson, Wisconsin. He has released two original albums, Without Rhyme or Reason and The Gift of Thirst. He has taught music theory, composition, production, and/or recording at the Full Sail Center for the Recording Arts in Orlando, The Acting Conservatory in Nashville, and McNally-Smith School of Music in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Holly Day is a music journalist whose articles have appeared in publications all over the world, including Computer Music Journal, ROCKRGRL, Music Alive!, Guitar One, and Mixdown magazines. Her writing has received an Isaac Asimov Award, a National Magazine Award, and two Midwest Writer’s Grants. She is co-author of Music Theory For Dummies (Wiley).


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By Ronn Lepage on July 3 2014
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Good reference.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 30 reviews
59 of 62 people found the following review helpful
A short course in a long subject May 12 2008
By Thomas W. Day - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Music Composition for Dummies is much more than a basic music theory book or a collection of musical ideas. Most folks who have enough theory behind them to be able to create music could use a little help in finding inspiration, techniques, and background to implement their creations. This book focuses on that aspect of composition. The authors' style of composition is not forced on the reader, but a variety of techniques and resources are offered which will assist you in finding your voice and enhancing your creativity.

As a long-suffering play-by-ear guitarist, the section on scales and modes was especially helpful. When I have used scales other than the few I am comfortable with, I tend to sound like I'm simply running the scale. The exercises in this section helped me find melodies in those scales and made the "Circle of Fifths" into more of a tool than a mystical phrase often used, but rarely comprehended. The section titled "Finding Melody in Your Instrument" was particularly useful in helping me break old habits in chord progressions and intervals. Chapter 9, "Harmonizing with Melodies," added even more to that pallet.

I doubt that I'll ever writing anything worthy of actual orchestration, but the section on "Composing for the Standard Orchestra" gave me insight into writing for instruments that I rarely experience outside of others' recordings. I usually use synthesizers for my orchestral instruments, but the formal background provided by this chapter enhances my ability to use those artificial instruments in a more natural setting.

There is a lot of practical information about writing for a variety of markets, from commercial jingles to orchestras. Scott Jarrett has a broad background in many areas of musical composition (including every one of the styles described in the book) and his experience in creating, notating, and producing music for these genres shines through the text.

A previous reviewer mistook "industrial music" for the little heard and rarely interesting popular form, but the authors' were commenting on a different subject: "not the dance music, but the music of the working world that is used for specific, usually commercial, purpose." I have no clue where that reviewer found the link to rap, but you have to wonder what some folks are writing about in their reviews. The same goes for the weird take on "random notes." Read the book, you'll find that there is a time for randomness and a time for scale-based melody. Enough said.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Music Composer - Music Harmony Plus Composition Ideas May 16 2010
By Robert E. Bassman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Music Composition for Dummies includes the complete gambit of Music Theory basics, plus gives you ideas
where to look for composition ideas. That's what I was looking for. I have the theory aleady, but I
needed help with where to look for composition ideas. Finding Melody in Language, Finding Melody in the world
aroung you, helping your muse help you. Excellent material.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.5 stars for excellent appendix March 29 2013
By sparky_magic_rainbow - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I have mixed feelings about this book. It's repetitive and tends to gloss
over important concepts like passing notes and grace notes. OTOH there are
terrific explanations for standard and non-standard orchestral arrangements
as well as a concise range charts for every instrument. The appendix contains
handy charts of all 7 Greek modes for all major and minor scales. There's also
a chart of all chord triads and sevenths for all notes on the scale.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Good Book March 16 2012
By Elio - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It's a good book, very helpful with it's broad aproach on issues concerning music writing. The text provides a general vision on melody, harmony, composing and so on. I think a basic knowledge of theory is required, to be more useful.
Light and easy reading.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
The ideal approach to composing Dec 29 2012
By Alan S. Mathias - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Regardless if you think this book is too much from a "classical" musician's perspective; it is a thorough discussion of all the fundamentals to consider in composition, no matter what genre you are interested in. Having years of experience in performance as well as theory, etc. I purchased this book just for that thorough discussion.


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