We’ve compiled seven of our favourite music production reads, dwelling into sound design, mixing, mastering, work flow and composition, whether you are just getting started with Ableton or you’re a seasoned professional, these comprehensive reads provide quality learning for producers of every level.

1. Interactive Composition- Strategies Using Ableton Live and Max for Live


Author Vj Manzo and will Kuhn write about setting up a workflow that compliments each other. The first quarter of the book is perfect for anyone who’s new to Live, dissecting the basics of how everything is laid out. Next the book goes into using max for live and dives right into programming your own basic instruments using the same. The book then moves into different styles of music and what elements and composition techniques each of them use. This book is quite useful for anyone who enjoys learning by doing as it comes with a series of hands on exercises. It also features a comprehensive companion website with practical examples.


2. Welsh’s Synthesizer Cookbook: Synthesizer Programming, Sound Analysis, and Universal Patch Book


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. The acoustic patches are based on harmonic analysis and are exceedingly close to the real instruments.


3. Welsh’s Synthesizer Cookbook, Vol 2: Harmonic Catalog

Welsh’s Synthesizer Cookbook, Vol. 2: Harmonic Catalog is intended for synthesizer players who have either read Volume 1 (black and yellow cover) or are familiar with using harmonic analysis to program synths. It contains over 230 frequency analysis graphs showing the harmonics of all the instruments in the orchestra, 808 and 909 drum machines, world instruments, vocals, sound effects and more.



4. Music Theory For Computer Musicians


Many DJs, gigging musicians, and electronic music producers understand how to play their instruments or make music on the computer, but they lack the basic knowledge of music theory needed to take their music-making to the next level and compose truly professional tracks. Beneath all the enormously different styles of modern electronic music lie certain fundamentals of the musical language that are exactly the same no matter what kind of music you write. It is very important to acquire an understanding of these fundamentals if you are to develop as a musician and music producer. Put simply, you need to know what you are doing with regard to the music that you are writing. Music Theory for Computer Musicians explains these music theory fundamentals in the most simple and accessible way possible. Concepts are taught using the MIDI keyboard environment and today’s computer composing and recording software.



5. Harmony for Computer Musicians


Computer musicians often show a high degree of skill and expertise with the technology they use to produce their music, many mistakenly assume that this is all they need to produce quality tracks. Yet there is often a vital ingredient missing: a useful knowledge of the way the language of music actually works — an understanding of the ingredients of music and how they are put together; what scales, chords, modes, and keys are; and the principles of arrangement, melody, and harmony. In other words, computer musicians may have learned how to use their instruments, but this does not necessarily mean that they know how to create professional-sounding music using those instruments. This book was written to help computer musicians grow in their knowledge of musical harmony, knowledge that is essential for the skilled creation of complex musical works. Topics include intervals, tonality and the key system, part writing, triads, tonic and dominant harmony, modulation, and modal interchange and harmony. Techniques are taught using the tools computer musicians are most familiar with. Rather than using a conventional score format, most of the materials are presented in the familiar piano roll format of computer music sequencing programs.


6. Dance Music Manual: Tools, Toys, and Techniques


From designing sounds,  compression, effects to mixing and mastering―and  even further, with advice on publishing and promoting your tracks. No matter your level of experience, this book is packed with techniques and practical tips to help you achieve professional results, whether you’re an aspiring dance music producer, DJ, remixer, recording engineer, musician, or composer.

The companion website provides examples of synthesis programming, compression, effects, MIDI files and examples of the tracks discussed within this edition.

The third edition includes up-to-date dance music coverage, including new chapters on arranging dance music, layering kicks, more on music theory, fundamentals of rhythm, building professional drum loops, gain structure, and advice on the very latest production techniques.


7. Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio


Discover how to achieve release-quality mixes even in the smallest studios by applying power-user techniques from the world’s most successful producers.

Mike Senior is a professional engineer who has worked with Wet Wet Wet, The Charlatans, Reef, Therapy, and Nigel Kennedy. He specialises in adapting the techniques of top producers for those working on a budget. Since 2007 he has transformed dozens of amateur productions for Sound On Sound magazine’s popular ‘Mix Rescue’ column, proving time and again that you can achieve commercial-grade results with affordable gear

Mixing Secrets For The Small Studio is a down-to-earth primer for small-studio enthusiasts who want chart-ready sonics in a hurry. Drawing on the back-room strategies of more than 100 famous names, this entertaining guide leads you step-by-step through the entire mixing process. On the way, you’ll unravel the mysteries of every type of mix processing, from simple EQ and compression through to advanced spectral dynamics and ‘fairy dust’ effects. User-friendly explanations introduce technical concepts on a strictly need-to-know basis, while chapter summaries and assignments are perfect for school and college use.

Learn the subtle editing, arrangement, and monitoring tactics which give industry insiders their competitive edge, and master the psychological tricks which protect you from all the biggest rookie mistakes.Find out where you don’t need to spend money, as well as how to make a limited budget really count.Pick up tricks and tips from leading-edge engineers working on today’s multi-platinum hits, including Michael Brauer, Serban Ghenea, the Lord-Alge brothers, Tony Maserati, Manny Marroquin, Dave ‘Hard Drive’ Pensado, Jack Joseph Puig, Mark ‘Spike’ Stent, Phil Tan, Andy Wallace, and many more.


Are you likely to order any of these ? Or if you have some recommendations, let us know!


Reader Suggestions

  1. Music Habits – The Mental Game of Electronic Music Production: Finish Songs Fast, Beat Procrastination and Find Your Creative Flow suggested by Reji Ravindran

  2. Making Music: 74 Creative Strategies for Electronic Music Producers suggested by Reji Ravindran