A list of the best books to learn every aspect of electronic music production.
“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking” – Haruki Mua.
This a great quote that may or may not hold true for electronic music production. In any case, it’s always a good idea to learn from people who have more knowledge. That’s why we made a list of books that can help you in every aspect of the production process. Regardless if you’re a beginner or a more experienced producer, there is a book on this list that has something to offer for you. We divided the books into a number of categories:
- Top picks
- Books about motivation, creativity & workflow
- Books about synthesis & sound design
- Books about rhythm & drum programming
- Books about mixing & mastering
- Books about music theory
- General books
- Artist books
- Making Music: 74 Creative Strategies for Electronic Music Producers gets a 4.7 star rating out of 61 customer reviews on Amazon.
- Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio gets a 4.7 rating out of 180 customer reviews out of 431 reviews
- Music theory for computer musicans gets a 4.4 star rating out of 89 customer reviews on Amazon.
- Harmony for Computer Musicians gets a 4.5 star rating out of 15 customer reviews on Amazon.
- Composition for Computer Musican gets a 4.1 star rating out of 24 customer reviews on Amazon.
- How composers produce some of the most pleasurable effects of listening to music by exploiting the way our brains make sense of the world
- What is it that makes us so attached to the music we listened to when we were young
- Why practice is more impotant than talent to obtain muscial expertise
- Why certain songs get stuck in your head
- This is Your Brain on Music gets a 4.1 star rating out of 366 customer reviews on Amazon
Dance Music Manual – Rick Snoman
The Dance Music Manual, written by Rick Snoman, is one of the best books you’ll come across for learning electronic music production. In 536 pages, Snoman goes into depth on just about every subject, including different genres. Why take his word for it? Rick Snoman is an established name in the industry, producing several successful dance tracks and remixes for known artists. It’s also worth mentioning that he made video tutorials for the genres Techno, Tech-House & Deep House which you can find here.
The Secrets of House Music Production – Marc Adamo
The Secrets of House Music Production is aimed towards beginning and intermediate level producers. It covers all the essential techniques needed to construct a house record. The book has a total of 144 pages and is broken down into 8 chapters: Drums, Bass, Vocals, The Music, Structure, Effects, Mixing, Outro. All parts of the production process are covered (making beats, drum sounds, basslines, structure, instrumentals, FX, mixing, vocals, mastering, remixes, programming ideas).
Making Music: 74 Creative Strategies for Electronic Music Producers – Dennis DeSantis
Making Music is written by Dennis Desantis, who’s one of the creators of Ableton. While you might expect to get advice on how to use Ableton, you won’t find any DAW specific tips or anything that has to do with the technical side of production. Instead, you’ll find a lot of solutions to common problems producers encounter, such as being in a creative rut.
Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio – Mike Senior.
In Mixing Secrets written by Mike Senior, techniques are discussed on how to achieve release-quality mixes with limited equipment. This makes it the perfect book for bedroom producers. The book is grouped into the sections hearing and listening, mix preparation, balancing and sweetening. Every chapter of the book summarizes the key techniques and secrets and puts you to work by giving practical exercises.
Mixing Audio – Roey Izhaki
Mixing Audio by Roey Izhaki discusses the mixing process as a whole on a high level, with in-depth analysis and discussions on most of the problems faced by engineers. This book is good for beginning producers but definitely has something to offer to the more experienced engineer as well. It’s considered to be one of the best books written on learning how to mix a record.
Books about motivation, creativity & workflow
The Creative Habit – Twyla Tharp
The Creative Habit written by Twyla Tharp is about making a habit out of the hard work it takes to achieve creative success. One of the main takeaways from the book is that you shouldn’t rely on those rare moments of inspiration to be successful. The book is best summarized by the following quote:
“I will keep stressing the point about creativity being augmented by routine and habit. Get used to it. In these pages, a philosophical tug of war will periodically rear its head. It is the perennial debate, born in the Romantic era, between the beliefs that all creative acts are born of (a) some transcendent, inexplicable Dionysian act of inspiration, a kiss from God on your brow that allows you to give the world The Magic Flute, or hard work. If it isn’t obvious already, I come down on the side of hard work.”
The War of Art – Steven Pressfield.
This book written by Steven Pressfield discusses what keeps us from doing what we long to do, why we all have an inner critic, what we can do to confront it, and how to avoid creative roadblocks.
Turning Pro: Tap Your Inner Power and Create Your Life’s Wor – Steven Pressfield
Turning Pro by Steven Pressfield is the follow-up book to the “The Wart of Art”. Turning Pro as an easy to read book about channeling your inner ambitions. It contains a lot of practical wisdom and advice that you can apply to any area of life. One of the main takeaways of the book is that while not everyone will achieve greatness, you should at least give it all you got to live up to your full potential.
Mastery – Robert Green
Mastery is a book that highlights that everyone has the potential to become a master at anything. In the book, Robert Green examines the lives of historical figures like Darwin, Mozart and Freddie Roach for clues on what makes them Masters at their discipline.
Steal Like an Artist – Austin Kleon.
Steal like an artist written by Austin Kleon is a book that highlights that creativity is for everyone and puts the reader in touch with their artistic side. A point Austin makes about creativity is that nothing is original, so embrace influence, collect ideas, and remix and re-imagine to discover your own path.
Deep Work – Cal Newport.
The book Deep Work highlights the importance of being able to focus on one task without distractions of other (cognitively demanding task). If you’re able to master the skill of “Deep Work” you will be able to quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time.
Peak – Anders Ericsson & Robert Pool.
In Peak, people who are experts in their field (such as chess champions, violin virtuoso and star athletes) are studied to answer questions such as “Is talent innate”. Peak summarizes three decades of research into an approach on what is the best way to acquire a new skill.
Books about rhytm & drum programming
There are two books on creating better rhytm & groove’s that we know of:
Unlocking the Groove: Rhythm, Meter, and Musical Design in Electronic Dance Music – Mark J Butler
Unlocking the groove makes an analysis of electronic dance music to give insight into the rhythmic element of electronic dance music.
Electronic Dance Music Grooves: House, Techno, Hip-Hop, Dubstep, and More! – John Bes
In Electronic Dance Music Grooves, John Bes gives insight on how to build a groove in your track for the genres house, techno, hip-hop, and more by introducing an intelligent groove-making system.
Books about mixing and mastering
When it comes to mixing and mastering there’s a lot of bad advice floating around. That’s why you should have a book about the mixing and mastering process, written by an actual proffessional.
The Mixing Engineer’s Handbook by Bobby Owsinski.
The Mixing Engineer’s Handbook by Bobby Owsinski is one of the most popular books written on the mixing process. It covers a range of topics from mixing styles, arrangement, the “six elements of a mix” and more.
Zen and the Art of Mixing by Mixerman.
This books takes a bit of a different approach to mixing than the other books mentioned by focusing on the bigger picture.
The Art of Mixing – David Gibson
The Art of Mixing by David Gibson is a great book that explains how to visualize your mixdowns in 3D space. Check out this video on youtube to get an idea of the book.
Mastering Audio: The Art and the Science – Bob Katz
Mastering Audio is one of the best books you’ll come across for learning how to master, as it’s easy to grasp. What’s also great about this book is that it’s written with humor, which makes it a breathe of fresh air. The book focuses on workflow by providing a step-by-step approach to the mastering process.
Books about synthesis & sound design
Andy Farnell: Designing sound
Designing Sound teaches students and professional sound designers to understand and create sound effects starting from nothing. Its thesis is that any sound can be generated from first principles, guided by analysis and synthesis.
Welsh’s Synthesizer Cookbook: Synthesizer Programming, Sound Analysis, and Universal Patch Book- Fred Welsh
This book covers ground that is often left untouched by other synthesizer books and was written to fulfill the wishes voiced by synth programmers. Section one explains the parts of an analog synth in detail using harmonic and waveform analysis to make clear exactly what each synth parameter does. Section two is probably the most important section added to the new edition and it explains through examples how to use freely available harmonic and waveform analysis software to analyze and recreate patches from other synths, sounds found in songs, and the synthesis of acoustic instruments. Section three contains all 102 of the original 1st and 2nd edition universal patches for ALL dual-oscillator analog synths.
Books about music theory
Music Theory, Harmony & Composition for Computer Musicians – Michael Hewitt
Music Theory, Harmony & Composition for Computer Musicians – Michael Hewitt
What this books does very well is making the basics of music theory easy to understand. Because it’s aimed towards producer’s you only learn what you need to know. There are practical exercises on the end of every chapter. After learning music theory you might want to take it a step futher and learn composition.
Composition for computer musicians gives you all the knowledge needed. It discusses the following elements of a track: how to program rhythm and drums, create basslines, melodic leads, using FX , using samples, Mixing, Mastering & distribution.
Hooktheory I: Music Theory – Hooktheory LLC
Hooktheory does a great job of giving a modern take on how to learn music theory. The book comes with 41 exercises and 94 audiovisual examples, which makes it very easy to learn the most important things, as fast as possible.
The Computer Music Tutorial – Curtis Roads
The Computer Music Tutorial is a book that discusses all aspects of electronic music production. Curtis Road is an authority in the industry, as he is the editor-in-chief of Computer Music Journal, for over 10 years. The book was written over a period of several years where he was teaching at Harvard among other places.
On the Track: A Guide to Contemporary Film Scoring – Fred Karlin & Rayburn Wright
Some of you might have an interest in making music for film or television. If this is the case, this is the book for you. In “On the track” all styles and genres of film music are discussed. It covers just about everything you need to know. Over one hundred interviews were conducted with known composers to write the book.
This is Your Brain on Music : The Science of a Human Obsession – Daniel Levitin
In this is your brain on music written by Daniel Levitlin the art and science of music is explored. The book explores the connection between music—its performance, its composition, how we listen to it, why we enjoy it—and the human brain. The book is based on research on on musical examples rangin from Mozart to van Halen. What are things that a produder can takeaway from the book?
Brian Eno: Oblique Music – Sean Albiez & David Pattie
Brian Eno is one of the most influental musical figures in the past forty years and a legend in the electronic music scene. The book, which consists of a total 296 pages, examines Eno’s work as a musician, theoretician, collaborator, and a producer. If you’re a fan of Brian Eno this book is a must read.
We have provided you with a list of the best electronic music production books, that can help you in any part of the production process. What do you think of the books on the list? Did we leave out any books that should be added? Let us know in the comments.