Book Review -- The Natural Way to Music

by Bill Keith and Jim D'Ville

So you're tired of wondering exactly why certain chord progressions seem to work well together. You're tired of not really understanding what is going on in the music you play. You want an understanding of the fundamentals of music, but you really don't know where to start. Well, your search just may be over. Have I got a book for you!

If you are a banjo player, Bill Keith probably needs no introduction to you. Bill is a banjo phenomenon. He is the fellow who is largely responsible for the popularity of "melodic style" 5 string banjo playing. He is also the designer and manufacturer of the famed Keith D-tuners and the fellow who wrote most of Earl Scruggs and the Five String Banjo. To the banjo playing public, Jim D'Ville is not as well known, but he has been playing the instrument for a long time, and is a student of Bill Keith. Together they have put together an easy to understand book that is a practical approach to music theory.

The subtitle of the book is "an organic approach to understanding and playing music." Basically, the book teaches you to take information you already know and develop an understanding of scales, intervals and chords and how they are used.

Music theory is nothing more than an explanation of how music, as we know it, works. By taking examples that almost everyone is familiar with and expanding on them, the authors help the student on the journey toward musical enlightenment.

You don't need a musical instrument to use the book, although the authors suggest that you purchase an inexpensive electronic keyboard or some other simple instrument so that you can see and hear exactly how things work. This is a musically and financially sound approach.

If you follow the instructions in the book, you will learn how to listen, how scales are constructed, what intervals and chords are and how all of these things work together to make the music you are familiar with. They teach you about the circle of fifths (somethinge EVERY musician really should know), the modes, the pentatonic scale, chord progressions, scale patterns, arpeggios and a host of other things that you will find very useful for increasing your skill and understanding of music.

It is well-written in simple English. You don't need a degree in music to understand what is going on in the book. There is a bit about notation, a glossary that will explain the terms used in the book and a good list of suggested reading.

In spite of all of the knowledge within the book, it is packed into a fairly compact package. The book is just over 60 pages, including the introduction, comb bound with transparent plastic covers. It is reasonably priced at only $39.95 with a video or CD-ROM or $19.95 for the book by itself. You can order it on line at Beacon Banjo Company.

Once you have finished this book, and you want to go farther, check out this one How to Play by Ear by Jack Hatfield.

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