It’s funny how sometimes you can hang on to something for a long time but never actually get around to using it until years later. Such is the case for me with Robby Garner’s book “Essential Music Theory for Electric Bass“. Honestly, I bought this book back in the mid-nineties, before the World Wide Web was the phenomena it is today. If I recall correctly I ordered it through a mail-order ad I found in the back of Bass Player Magazine. At the time my knowledge of Music Theory was primitive at best. I had taken a couple of music classes at Community College, but never really understood the whole mechanics of it. When I received the book I set to work on it, completed the first chapter, and as I did with most instructional books of this type back then, put it on a shelf, not looking at it again in earnest until very recently. Back then I had no real comprehension of theory at all. I was playing in a punk band and had hoped the book would make me a better player. Unfortunately for me, I had at that point received no formal training on how to play the bass and was pretty much winging it. As such, I just did not possess the discipline needed to sit down and work through these types of books. The thing about me though is, I know when I find a good thing, and I hang on to it. Fast forward 15+ years, and I still have a very usable book that I am just now truly utilizing.
Essential Music Theory for Electric Bass is a fantastic introduction to music theory concepts as applied to the electric bass. Aimed at the complete beginner, this book covers intervals, triads, major/minor scales, and harmonization of the major and minor scales. Well written and easy to understand, the book is so well laid out that it almost seems effortless to follow along. Filled with clear explanations and diagrams, it immediately switched a light on in my head, finally I started to get it.
Each chapter finishes up with a set of review questions allowing you to test your knowledge before moving on. Once you’ve mastered all 6 chapters, there is Final Review at the end. The review questions can really be a challenge if you are new to theory, but at the same time, they help you to absorb the material in a meaningful way. It can take a while to work through some of them but it is worth it.
While mainly aimed at the beginner, even an old dog can learn a thing or two from this book. If you are a bass player of any level and want to gain a better understanding or solidify your knowledge of Music Theory, this is definitely a good place to start.