Art - Music



Table of Contents

Personal Background

We had almost no music at home. No radio, records, instruments, singing. It was a venture into the unknown to begin trumpet in 4th grade, and continue to 9th. I barely learned to push the buttons at about the right time, and had to be told if I was in tune.

In college, as part of a self-improvement regimen, I forced myself to listen to much of historical western music (sort of "music appreciation" for the non-gifted), during which I enjoyed plainsong (Gregorian chants), Renaissance (lute and recorder) and Baroque (various Bach's and Handel), but bogged down in Romance and Classical (except Beethoven and Chopin) and never got into the 20th century. One day I grimly listened to all of Bartok's string quartets.

Occasionally, I'd pick up the trumpet and try again -- and even enjoyed playing some Schoenberg.

This all changed when I met my wife. She had grown up surrounded by 40's Big Band, 50's rock 'n roll, 60's surf 'n drag, 70's folk revival, and a surprising amount of classical. Just being exposed to all this day in and day out got me listening for pleasure instead of for self-improvement.

Many years passed. I noticed music was missing from this website, so decided to fill in the gap. Assuming that art is one part theory and 3 parts practice, I bought a few books and picked up the trumpet again. For yet another "How I restarted the trumpet" saga see my trumpet regimen.

After a year into the trumpet recovery effort I read about "doubling" on other instruments. Just beginning that adventure.


Music is an odd thing to do at all, and stranger still is the fact that every culture does it.

Neurological studies are explaining why some sound combinations are pleasant and others are not (levitin2006).

A long history of "music theory" provides empirical rules of thumb which seem to be consistent with the neuroscience. miller2002 takes you from basics to composing/arranging. owen2000 provides a more sophisticated layer above that.


Generic Equipment

  • Music stand. I got a "conductor's model", because it was sturdy.

  • Korg CA-1 Chromatic Tuner, Matrix MR600 metronome. I started with a mechanical metronome and a simple tuner, but that just didn't work out. Tried combined electronic tuner and metronome but that was too fussy to set. So went to this tuner and metronome. I use the tuner all the time when warming up on voice, but seldom use a metronome (maybe I should).

Ear training

Using GNU solfege. Just started (after 1 year of playing, and 3 months of doing major, minor, diminished 7 chords). The work on trumpet has helped me hear chords when played out as melody, but still can't hear them as harmony.




Daniel J. Levitin. "This is Your Brain On Music: The Science of a Human Obsession". Plum Book, 2006. ISBN 976-0-452-28852-2.

Professional musician turned neuroscientist uses MRI and related techniques to detect what is happening in the brain as we listen to music.


Michael Miller. "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Music Theory". Pearson Education, 2002. ISBN 0-02-864377-1.

I've examined at least 10 music theory texts, and this is by far the clearest and most complete for the beginner to intermediate reader. Takes you from clefs/scales/keys, to composing and arranging.


Harold Owen. "Music Theory Resource Book". Oxford University Press, 2000. ISBN 0-19-511539-2.

"Ideal as a core or supplementary text for the standard two year music theory course and for graduate courses in theory review".


Curt Sachs. "The History of Musical Instruments". Dover, 2006 (reprint from 1940). ISBN 0-486-45263-4.

Dr. Sachs provides a unified story based on archeological digs around the world, hints on stele and paintings, historical and literary references, and traditional folk instruments. Traces instruments as they migrate and evolve. Attempts to estimate their sounds (e.g., from physical dimensions and references to other instruments).

Creator: Harry George
Updated/Created: 2017-08-21