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Ryan & Brennish Thomson

Updated Feb 2, 2024

Captain Fiddle Music 

Ryan and Brennish 


Folk Musicians Working Guide

A Folk Musician's Working Guide 

to Chords Keys Scales and More - $23.95


For any instrument and level, violin, piano, accordion, guitar, banjo, flute, etc.


A description of the book:


by Ryan J. Thomson, 86 pages, 8.5" by 5.5", 

comb bound.  This book contains an amazing

amount of useful information for rank

beginners and advanced pros alike! I extracted 

and condensed the useful and practical 

sections from 15 other dull and dry music 

theory books and put it all into this one volume. 


I mixed in loads of practical and how-to-do-it

 information that I've learned from 35 years

of making music with other people. I originally meant the book to be for folk musicians but my classical and jazz music friends tell me that it works well for them also! A quote from a classical friend, "After reading your book, now I know what they were trying to teach me in my college music theory class! I wish my teacher could have explained it this clearly." 


Topics: There are many many illustrations, charts, and diagrams so that someone can easily just look up the answer to a question without having to understand music theory. Thus the book can be used like a dictionary or reference source. For those who like a deeper understanding, I explain every concept in a gradual, easy to read, and friendly manner about: forming chords, modes and scales, key signatures, circle of fifths, intervals, transposing, musical notation, basic music theory, consonance and dissonance, sharps and flats, rhythms, how different folk instruments can play in some keys and not others, scale notes for every key, notes for every chord type, tuning, and much much more! 

ISBN 978-0-931877-20-9 $23.95 


Secure Online Payment. Free shipping within the USA 


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Fiddler's Crossing: "Fiddler's Crossings's resident theory dunce found this book quite helpful in clearing away the fogs of mystery surrounding these topics. The fact that it was written by a fiddler made it easier to understand, and it is written as if you were starting from the very beginning. A very helpful book."


Dirty Linen Folk, Traditional, and World Music: "This little gem of a book is perfect for those who may be just learning to play an instrument and wish to find an easily accessible way of understanding the theory and structure behind the music. The book essentially makes it easier for anyone interested in playing folk music either alone or in a group to understand what they are playing and why. Ryan Thomson presents discussions on chord structure, scales, keys, transposing, time signatures, and much more. It's a good start for someone new to music and a good refresher for others who were discouraged with a heavy handed approach to music theory. Thomson writes in a casual logical style and adds plenty of easy to decipher diagrams."


Ex Libris NH Writers and Publishers Project: "As the wife of a musician, I have spent countless hours listening to various musicians and would-be musicians jam in my living room or garage. Ryan Thomson's book is a great resource for aspiring performers who are serious enough to look past the jam session. With user friendly text, simply drawn graphics and an unabashed enthusiasm for music, Thomson addresses (among many other things) the complexities of chords, how folk instruments are related by keys, and the uses of the capo - and in less than 100 pages. As the author of nine other books on music and an accomplished player himself, Thomson is more than qualified to lead."


From happy customers:


This is a small spiral bound work that summarizes all the music theory that you need to know for folk music. It covers notes, keys, chords, circle of fifths and a whole lot more. I'm an autoharp player, and it's my main reference for all these topics. The book I reach for first."

E. Greenberg, San Jose, California


I love this book.  I play clawhammer banjo by ear and was mystified by some things.


Port Townsend, Washington


Hi Ryan,

 First, I want to greatly thank you for writing the book "A Folk Musician's Working Guide

To Chords, Keys, Scales, And More." I had put off my passion for music till "midlife" and now I am trying to quickly learn the crucial basics while an hour glass snickers behind me. Your book is clear, concise, greatly needed and ... approachable. Nice job.


New Hampshire

Click on the image below to enlarge it.

front cover of the book -  Folk Musician's Working Guide to Chords Keys Scales and More, by Ryan Thomson

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