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Book Details

  • Spiral Bound
  • Bookstore's Wholesale Price: $74.00
  • August 2011
  • ISBN: 978-0-393-93094-8
  • 480 pages
  • Volume(s): 1
  • Territory Rights: Worldwide

The Musician's Guide to Aural Skills

Sight-Singing, Rhythm-Reading, Improvisation, and Keyboard Skills

Second Edition

Spiral Bound

Volume(s): 1

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Joel Phillips (Author, Westminster Choir College of Rider University), Paul Murphy (Author, Muhlenberg College), Elizabeth West Marvin (Author, Eastman School of Music), Jane Piper Clendinning (Author, Florida State University College of Music)


All the practical skills students need to succeed as professional musicians—in a single pedagogical program.

The Musician’s Guide to Aural Skills integrates all critical aural skills in a single teaching and learning program coordinated (chapter by chapter) with a companion text in theory and analysis. The two volumes, organized by skill type, contain a wide range of exercises and a diverse repertoire of real music—classical, popular song, film and TV themes, folk songs. There is absolutely no need for supplementary materials, and students are involved in creative music-making from the very beginning.

Volume 1 covers sight-singing, rhythm-reading, improvisation, and keyboard skills, corresponding to blocks of chapters in The Musician’s Guide to Theory and Analysis, Second Edition. Students are able to acquire these essential performance skills at a pace that suits their own needs and abilities, with plenty of Listening Strategies to help them.


Abundant exercises

800+ sight-singing melodies include preparatory exercises, author-composed concept études, and melodies from the literature, from all periods and in all styles—many of these ensemble excerpts in two, three, or four parts.

Comprehensive coverage

600+ rhythm drills include basic patterns as well as graded rhythms for solo, duet, and trio. Guided individual and class improvisations encourage imaginative on-the-spot music-making. 

Progressive keyboard exercises

These exercises provide a solid foundation in keyboard harmony and bring to life the harmonic models explained in The Musician’s Guide to Theory and Analysis, Second Edition. Beginning with simple paradigms and extending through chromatic harmony, the exercises facilitate a spiral-based learning approach, allowing students to connect a new concept to the one they already know.

    Part I: Elements of Music

    1. Major-key melodies in simple meters
    2. Major- and minor-key melodies in simple and compound meters
    3. Major- and minor-key melodies in simple and compound meters with beat subdivisions
    4. Modal melodies
    1. Simple meters: The beat and its division
    2. Compound meters: The beat and its division
    3. Simple meters: Adding beat subdivisions
    4. Compound meters: Adding beat subdivisions
    5. Simple and compound meters with borrowed beat divisions ("tuplets")

    Part II: Diatonic Harmony and Tonicization

    1. Phrases
    2. Embellishing phrases
    3. Phrase organization
    4. Tonicization
    1. Simple meters: Eighth-note, quarter-note, and half-note beat units with subdivisions
    2. Compound meters: Dotted-eighth-, -quarter-, and -half-note beat units with subdivisions
    3. Compound triplets in simple meters: Ensemble exercises
    4. Compound duplets in simple and compound meters: Ensemble exercises
    5. Hemiola
    6. Combined beat divisions in simple meters
    7. Combined beat divisions in compound meters

    Part III: Chromatic Harmony and Form

    1. Tonicizations, modulations, and small forms
    2. More contrapuntal music, modal mixture, and the N6 and A6 chords
    3. New vocal forms, more chromatic harmonies, and larger forms
    1. Changing meters
    2. Super-subdivided beats in slow tempos
    3. More syncopation: Ragtime and jazz
    4. Asymmetric meters
    5. Combined beat divisions (3:4): Two-part and ensemble rhythms

    Part IV: The Twentieth Century and Beyond

    1. Modal and pentatonic melodies revisited
    2. Precursors to atonal music: Collections and sets
    3. Ordered collections and twelve-tone music
    4. More rhythmic challenges
    1. Other tuplets
    2. More asymmetric meters
    3. Characteristic dance rhythms
    4. Rhythms of the spoken word
    5. Tempo and meter modulation
    6. Twentieth-century concepts and excerpts


    • Lesson 1: Rhythmic cells
    • Lesson 2: Major and minor triads
    • Lesson 3: Major- and minor-key melodies
    • Lesson 4: Major pentatonic, minor pentatonic, and modal melodies
    • Lesson 5: Seventh chords
    • Lesson 6: First-species counterpoint
    • Lesson 7: Second-species counterpoint
    • Lesson 8: Embellishing melodic outlines
    • Lesson 9: Improvising melodies in phrase pairs
    • Lesson 10: Improvising over figured basses and Roman numeral progressions
    • Lesson 11: Conclusive and inconclusive phrases
    • Lesson 12: Improvising with predominant chords
    • Lesson 13: Improvising periods
    • Lesson 14: Improvising sequences
    • Lesson 15: Phrase expansion, asymmetrical meter, and tonicization
    • Lesson 16: Modulatory periods
    • Lesson 17: Mixture, phrase expansion, A6 and N6 chords
    • Lesson 18: Blues and rock
    • Lesson 19: Continuous variations
    • Lesson 20: Ragtime
    • Lesson 21: Modes and scales
    • Lesson 22: Whole-tone and pentatonic scales
    • Lesson 23: Octatonic scales and subsets
    • Lesson 24: Twelve-tone dance
    • Lesson 25: Polymetric duets

    Keyboard Skills

    • Lesson 1: Major pentachords, tetrachords, and scales
    • Lesson 2: Minor pentachords, tetrachords, and scales
    • Lesson 3: Diatonic modes
    • Lesson 4: Intervals
    • Lesson 5: Triads
    • Lesson 6: Seventh chords
    • Lesson 7: Counterpoint
    • Lesson 8: The basic phrase-tonic- and dominant-function chords
    • Lesson 9: Adding predominant chords to the basic phrase
    • Lesson 10: Dominant-function seventh chords
    • Lesson 11: More dominant-tonic (D-T) progressions
    • Lesson 12: Predominant expansion of the tonic
    • Lesson 13: Deceptive and Phrygian resolutions
    • Lesson 14: Delayed resolutions
    • Lesson 15: Sequences
    • Lesson 16: Secondary-dominant-function chords
    • Lesson 17: Common modulations
    • Lesson 18: Modal mixture
    • Lesson 19: Blues and popular music harmony
    • Lesson 20: Other chromatic harmony
    • Lesson 21: Unordered pitch-class sets