I recently had the opportunity to read two books: Music Theory for Dummies and The Complete Idiot's Guide to Music Theory.I played the piano extensively during my childhood years and took many classes in music theory. I'm no dummy! However, I chose to read up on this particular topic because it's been a long time since I studied music formally, so I thought it would be nice to brush up on the basics. How did the books compare against each other?
Both are written knowledgeable individuals who hold a music degree. At first glance, I was more drawn to the Complete Idiot's Guide because of it's larger size. It reminded me of an actual music book. I also liked the bigger size for the practical reason that it was slightly easier to read the words. My husband on the the other hand, commented that the smaller book was easier to hold in his hand.
The two books also contain a musical CD to enhance the topics learned along the way. I enjoyed the exercises presented on the Complete Idiot's Guide CD. It was fun to see how many of the pitches and intervals I could guess correctly and was a good brain workout! The Dummies Guide CD presents some useful sounds, including how all the different types of scales, but I didn't as good of a mind workout as I did with the Idiot's CD.
The first chapter of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Music Theory introduces pitches and tones. This made great sense to me, seeing as how to understand music theory, you need to understand notes and how to read them. The Dummies guide starts off with an explanation of rhythm, also a practical approach. However, I preferred the Idiot's guide approach because of its emphasis on basic technical details. This technical style of teaching seemed to continue throughout the rest of the book as well.
In the end, I found that the Complete Idiot's Guide was better suited for me, I think because of my previous musical training. The The Complete Idiot's Guide to Music Theory retails for $19.95 and Music Theory for Dummies retails for $24.99.
*I received a complimentary copy of both books for review purposes.