Other than use within a licensed copy of Practica Musica ® or the Exploring Theory ebook, no part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transcribed, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher, Ars Nova Software, Box 3333, Kirkland, WA 98083.
www.ars-nova.com. 1st and 2nd editions © 1999, 2000, 2004, 2006, 3rd Edition 2011, 4th Edition 2014, Rev. 2022. Some material in this book previously appeared in Windows on Music, © 1989, 1994 Ars Nova Software. ISBN 978-0-929-444-130
About this book
Exploring Theory is designed to accompany the computer program Practica Musica®, version 6 or later, though it can easily be used alone. Practica Musica supports the text by offering learning activities coordinated with each chapter of the book, helping the student to find the reality behind the abstractions of pitch, harmony, and rhythm. In addition, there are activities, including even notation tools, for students who want to continue to more advanced topics. However, this book’s audiovisual examples and interactive quizzes can on their own provide some of that extra reinforcement and stimulus and will help to clarify each lesson even without the software. Practica Musica is available for both Windows and Macintosh computers.
For more information about Practica Musica visit:
The subject matter covered in the text is that of an introductory music theory course, though some chapters will at times go well beyond the essentials of an introduction. Similarly, the software has something for both beginners and more advanced students: the higher levels of play in each activity can be challenging to anyone, while the correction capabilities and friendly patience of the computer should help even the shyest novice.
If students are able to practice their basic skills with the computer there will be more time in class for those things a computer can’t do, which include both discussion with the instructor and group activities such as singing in parts.
This 4th edition of Exploring Theory contains extensive revisions and additions to the text, and features many new music examples presented as videos. The ability to see music examples animated and played offers exciting new potential for the student.
I want to give special thanks to Patricia Carbon for her tireless work both in traditional editing tasks and especially in the work of reshaping Exploring Theory as an ebook production and in selecting, creating and voicing the new live music examples. Cynthia Dwyer was of great help in transferring the 4th edition to an online format and proofing copy; Paul Tolo provided many hours of expertise in the conversion of the layout and video content for use with html5.
Suggested Practica Musica Activities 6.1
• Relative Keys: Provide the relative major or minor for the given key.
The activities are grouped by chapter in Practica Musica’s Exploring Theory menu.
I’d like to thank the school where I did my graduate work, the University of California at Santa Barbara; it was there in 1986 that the first version of Practica Musica was written, with the aid of a grant from the Office of Instructional Development. Finally I want to express my appreciation of all those professors and music instructors who have written over the years either with corrections or with new ideas for the text and the software. Both are better for it. – J. Evans
Our object of study is the musical language developed in
Europe over the course of the last 1000 years, particularly
the tonal music that is associated with such composers as
Bach, Mozart and Beethoven and which also forms the basis of
modern popular music. What we want to learn first about this
language of sound is its notation: how to read it and how to
write down what we hear or imagine in a way that can be easily
understood by others. Along the way to musical literacy we’ll
gain some insights into how tonal music came to be, and we’ll
acquire familiarity with its basic materials: the beat, the
measure, major and minor scales, and triads. We’ll study the
way that the basic materials of music are built into melody and
harmony, the way that musical forms arise from those
materials, and describe principles that can help you to write
music of your own. If you take an interest in traditional music
of other cultures, or in western jazz or contemporary music,
you will find that this knowledge retains its usefulness. Music is today a universal language.
From the autograph manuscript of J.S. Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 5