a book by Oscar van Dillen

Oscar van Dillen ('s-Hertogenbosch 1958) studied a wide variety of musical traditions with many renowned teachers.
Van Dillen is composer and performer of music, as well as Professor of Music at Codarts University of the Arts.
A polyglot and an erudite world citizen, he is also one of the pioneers from the early years of Wikipedia:
former founding president of Wikimedia Nederland and trustee of the Wikimedia Foundation Inc.


"The purpose I have in the writing of this book is fourfold:

1 - to create a new and comprehensive book on music theory, fit for learning1 and for teaching alike,2 which can also be used for reference purposes;3

2 - to create a synthesis of musical theoretical knowledge of various continents4 and some of their most noteworthy musical traditions and styles;5

3 - to offer new and challenging original insights;

4 - to inspire musicians.6 "


  1. Fit for learning here means: also for autodidactics.
  2. I even included a special chapter on teaching, treating methods and means, problems and solutions.
  3. For reference purposes many tables are included as well as a glossary.
  4. Various continents means I emphatically do not subscribe to the Late-Renaissance view of a supposed East-West dichotomy. In fact all people are one big family and biologically as well as culturally interrelated; more so the "family" of musicians, who always traveled widely and intercontinentally, absorbing and mutually sharing ideas and accomplishments, always boldly seeking to invoke and inspire interhuman communication as well as entertainment, by the very nature of their art.
  5. Despite aspiring to be universal, any single volume book will nevertheless be somehow incomplete: one simply cannot include everything.
  6. This, to inspire musicians, any writer of music and/or books can only hope for, but from my experience as a teacher I know that music theory can be connected to musical practice in many inspiring ways, not only enhancing musicians' understanding, but also broadening their creative scope and deepening their technical knowledge and skills.

©Oscar van Dillen 2012

Publication of the book Outline of Music Theory (ca 600 pages) is currently in preparation

preview chapters


the free basic book can be found here