by Eric Taylor, 1991 ABRSM, Grades 6-8                                                                               

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Author: Eric Taylor

First published: 1991

Publisher: ABRSM

ISBN: 1854724479

Level: Grades 6-8

Pages: 252

Our Rating: starstarstarstarstar grey


  • Voices (SATB), Non-harmony notes, More about tonal harmony, Chromatic chords
  • Aspects of melody
  • String instruments, Woodwind and brass instruments, Percussion and keyboard instruments
  • Instruments in combination
  • Before the tonal period
  • Some modern developments
  • Names of instruments in foreign languages, Roman chord numeral system, Pitch specifications, Clefs.


 A very useful book for anyone studying beyond grade 5 music theory. This book is rather compact but it crams in an awful lot of information. It takes a look at some of the historical perspectives on tonal harmony, and gives the reader an inkling of the organic growth of the “rules” of harmony through the ages. It provides a good consolidation of information that may have been picked up in scraps elsewhere.

The back cover of my edition (2008) states that the book deals with the topics on the syllabuses of grades 6-8, however this is not in fact true. The ABRSM updated their syllabuses several years ago, but the available literature doesn’t always reflect those changes. This book contains no help or information about figured bass, for example, which is a compulsory part of the exams at grades 6, 7 and 8.

It also doesn’t offer any practical advice about tackling any of the examination questions. You need to take a big step from the information given to you about general stylistic features and implement them yourself into any harmony or composition questions you attempt. This is quite a leap for many students. 

The section on instruments is indispensable however, for providing a thorough general-knowledge background that you’ll need for the score-reading questions at these grades. Also a plus is the large number of musical examples given. You’ll probably want to read this book sitting next to a piano keyboard.