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Recommended Books for the Study of Composition, Orchestration
and Electronic Music Production


Harmony, 5th edition, Walter Piston, Norton

A comprehensive text on classical harmonic theory.


Counterpoint, 3rd edition Kent Kennan, Prentice-Hall

A study of 18th century contrapuntal practice. Covers the various species, imitative counterpoint, fugal writing,
motivic analysis and much more.


Counterpoint, Walter Piston, Norton

Somewhat less pedagogical than the Kennan text, Insightful, philosophical and technical.


Workbook for Counterpoint, Kent Kennan, Prentice-Hall

Exercises in the various species of counterpoint and analysis of contrapuntal forms.


The Study of Counterpoint (Gradus Ad Parnassum), Johann Joseph Fux, translated and edited by Alfred Mann, Norton

Classic text on 16th century counterpoint. This book was used by Mozart, Beethoven and Haydn, and many other
composers over the past 200 years.


Techniques of 20th Century Composition, Leon Dallin, WCB

A fine overview of techniques developed by 20th century composers.


Materials & Techniques of 20th century Composition, Stefan Kostka, Prentice-Hall

Very thorough text on compositional developments of this century.


Music Notation, Garder Read, Crescendo

Excellent reference on the notation of music.


Music Notation in the 20th Century, Kurt Stone, Norton

Reference on notational practice, including most of the notational developments of the 20th century.


The Study of Orchestration, Samuel Adler, Norton

Excellent and fairly up-to-date. Comprehensive with many examples from various stylistic periods.


The Technique of Orchestration, Kent Kennan, Prentice-Hall

Introduction to orchestration techniques. Covers family of instruments as well as individual orchestral instruments.


Orchestration, Walter Piston, Norton

Deals with instruments, textures and contains many examples from the classical repertoire. Includes a chapter on
orchestral texture and how these textures are created.


Principles of Orchestration, Rimsky-Korsakov, Dover

Examples and discussion of Rimsky-Korsakov's orchestral music.


The Guide to MIDI Orchestration, Paul Gilreath, MusicWorks

Basic information about samplers, libraries, simulating acoustic ensembles. Better for information about sample libraries,
synthesizers and samplers than as a learning tool for orchestration.


Form in Tonal Music, Douglass M. Green, Holt Rinehart

How composers build structure through repetition, variation and development.


The Shaping Forces in Music, Ernst Toch, Dover

Insightful inquiries into the the way we perceive musical structure.


Music and Imagination, Aaron Copland, Harvard

A wonderful set of essays on music composition in America in the 20th century.


The Third Ear, Joachim-Ernst Berendt, Henry Holt

This book is a must-read for those composers who’ve experienced the tyranny and triviality of academia, and
who yearn to write a kind of music which restores vitality, energy and an understanding of overtones to their musical thought.


Art & Fear, Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking, David Bayles & Ted Orland, Image Continuum

This is a truly unique little book.  It deals with the many social, psychological and artistic issues that are faced by artists of
all mediums who work alone and put so much of their energies and attention into their work.


Music, The Brain And Ecstasy, Robert Jourdain, Morrow

A wonderfully inspiring book that can be enjoyed by both the professional musician and the layman. It investigates music
and sound from many points of view including the brain’s response to sound and the body’s capacity to perform music.
If there is one book on the philosophy of music that you read this year, this is the one.


Poetics of Music, Igor Stravinsky, Harvard

Ideas and reflections about music by a masterful and original composer.


Rhythmic Training, Robert Starer, MCA Music

Exercise book for reading and comprehending rhythmic patterns, meter and accents.


On The Track, Karlin/Wright, Schirmer Books

Fine book on the craft of composing music for film. Covers many technical and business issues and contains
interviews of those composers highly experienced in the craft of scoring music to film.


Composers on Music, Sam Morgenstern, Pantheon

A collection of short essays and letters by composers about music. Offers insights into the thinking of Mahler, Bach,
Mozart, Byrd, and many other composers who devoted their lives to music composition.


The Acoustical Foundations of Music, John Backus, Norton

Excellent textbook on the physics of music and musical instruments. Somewhat mathematical but very readable
for those not trained in physics but have a good understanding of music.


Any Sound You Can Imagine, Paul Theberge, Wesleyan University Press

A social analysis of the effect of technology on music and musicians.  Excellent reading although I wish the author had
dedicated as much of his comprehensive research on art music as he did on pop music.  


MIDI for the Professional, Lehrman/Tully, Amsco

Good reference book for MIDI equipment and techniques.


Modern Recording Techniques, David M. Huber, SAMS

Up-to-date information about the recording studio, the acoustic properties of sound waves, the console, digital audio,
MIDI, compact disc manufacturing, microphones and signal processing.


Practical Recording Techniques, Bruce & Jenny Bartlett, SAMS

Overview of recording studio equipment and techniques. Covers live recording and how to record classical music.


Hard Disk Recording for Musicians, David Huber, AMSCO

Covers the essentials of sampling, disc-based recording equipment and techniques, digital audio, digital editing and related issues.


The Music Machine, Curtis Roads, The MIT Press

A collection of articles and essays from Computer Music Journal. Some are highly technical and require an understanding
of the mathematics of filtering and signal processing, others are less technical and of use to the musician.


The Computer Music Tutorial, Curtis Roads, The MIT Press

The classic textbook on electronic music and related disciplines. Very technical, some chapters cannot be fully comprehended
without knowledge of mathematics and the equations of signal processing. Other chapters are much more readable to the
trained musician. An excellent reference book for the electronic music studio.


New Harvard Dictionary of Music, Randel Belknap, Harvard

A well-known and well-used music dictionary, in short and long versions.


Mastering Audio, Bob Katz, Focal Press

The best book on mastering audio by a well-respected industry pro.

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