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Do you want to learn how to produce electronic music but don’t know where to start? To help you get started I’ve selected the best electronic music books to help you build your production knowledge quickly. In this list of books, you’ll find books that cover the basics of:
- How to start producing electronic music.
- The music business & music industry.
- Mixing audio & advanced mixing techniques.
fundamenal concepts of music production,
- Music theory & song arrangement
- Modern recording techniques
- Sound design
- How to Use Ableton Live
- Mastering audio
A lot of the books contain insights from professional producers, supplimentary youtube videos, practical exercises and are applicable for different genres.
Top Tip – If you subscribe to kindle unlimited a lot of these books are often included. Check it out, it might be a cheaper way to read them. You can try a 30 day free trial here.
Table of Contents
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The Creative Act: A Way of Being – Rick Rubin
The Creative Act is a great book from renowned music producer Rick Rubin. This time Rick dives deep into the creative process and reflects upon its impact within the wider world.
Rubin has a reputation for empowering the artists he works with to explore and express their true selves. Rick shares that empowerment by exploring the creative process and showing how it can help us rediscover who we really are.
He offers insight on how to move beyond predetermined notions, discover our inner creativity and create something truly unique. A good read for aspiring creatives as it provides ways to perceive the world that can help you break free of your limitations and find yourself through music.
Much of what Rubin writes about is similar to buddhist philosophy and the act of mindfullness. It’s a book that will help you build awareness of your creative practice and the psychological driving forces behind that. This is particularly useful if you want to re-evaluate your creative approach or feel that you’re after some help being creative.
A spiritual guide for creatives.
Dance Music Manual – Rick Snoman
This book is an absolute classic. This is one of the best books to learn electronic music production out there and is an essential read. Rick Snoman is a music producer who has been writing about music production for over 30 years and has put all his wisdom into this classic.
The Dance Music Manual starts off with the basics of synthesis, sampling, and sound design. It covers topics such as subtractive synthesis, envelopes, oscillators, filters and LFOs. The book provides an in-depth look at synthesis and sound design which is great for beginners who want to learn how sound can be manipulated.
This comprehensive book also covers composition techniques such as arranging tracks, creating melodies and bass lines and mixing elements together to create compelling songs. Snowman outlines the electronic music fundamentals rather than teaching specific techniques for each genre. The great thing is that these fundamentals are applicable to all types of electronic music genres including house music, drum & bass, techno and dubstep. He’s teaching you the foundations that you can then build your own weird and beautiful tracks upon.
Advanced Production Techniques
The Dance Music Manual isn’t just for beginners; it also features all the knowledge needed to learn advanced production techniques such as mastering and creating unique effects with software plugins. It also covers topics like syncopation and groove programming that can help you make your tracks sound more dynamic and interesting.
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The Dance Music Manual by Rick Snowman is an indispensable guide for anyone wanting to learn about electronic music production. I think everyone should own a copy for reference in their studio.
Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio by Mike Senior.
The bible of audio engineering, Sound on Sound, presents this super useful book on mixing. This book has been invaluable to me, so much so that I keep a copy in my studio for reference. It’s been very handy to dip into every now and again when I face a mixing issue or skill refresh. It’s so good i’d go as far as saying its a book all music producers should read. It’s laid out in such an easy and logical way, which really helps navigate the mixing process and get the best from your recording.
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Mike Senior shows us the inner workings of his production workflow by breaking the book into four parts: Hearing and Listening, Mix Preparation, Balance and Sweetening to Taste.
Part 1 is dedicated to you getting the best from your listening environment & monitors before you start trying to improve your mix. Great advice, make sure you can hear properly before you start doing anything!
Part 2 Mix Preparation covers getting your audio ready for the mix with timing, arrangement and comping.
Part 3 ‘Balance’ provides useful techniques on creating a solid mix balance different types of EQ and compression techniques. Three is focus for each instrument in the track – drums, bass, guitars, keyboards and vocals – offering practical tips on how to mix them together effectively
Part 4 concludes with adding the extra sparkles to your mix using reverbs and delays effectively, stereo enhancements and mixbus processing.
Finally, he provides helpful resources such as templates and reference tracks that you can use when producing music. This should be every mixing engineer’s handbook, highly Recommended!
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Making music: 74 Creative Strategies for Electronic music producers
Among the best music production books is ‘Making Music: 74 Creative Strategies‘. This book is an invaluable resource for anyone who wants to learn how to produce music, whether they are just starting out or already have some experience. It covers a wide range of topics from understanding your tools to mixing and mastering your tracks. Plus, it also has exercises designed to help beginners get up and running quickly and easily.
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Written by professional musician Dennis De Santis, this book gives you an overview of the creative processes involved in making music. It explores how to develop ideas and creativity, compose melodies, arrange tracks, produce sounds, and record vocals. In addition to providing practical advice, the book also includes interviews with some of the world’s leading electronic musicians. If you’re someone who finds you get writer’s block or struggle to finish your tracks this book will help. Also features music production tips and tricks from experienced musicians. The hard copy was quite expensive last time I checked, but you can often pick up the kindle edition for a bargain.
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Music Habits – The Mental Game of Electronic Music Production
The Mental Game of Electronic Music Production is written to help you learn how to produce music quickly and finish tracks. This is an excellent resource for those just starting out in music production. It offers an inside look into the minds of top producers and teaches readers how to think like a successful producer and take their craft to new heights. As the title implies, it’s more focused on teaching you the psychological mindset to have when learning music production. It really helps provide the tools needed to start making music, avoid procrastination, and, most importantly, finish a track!
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One of the reasons I like this book so much is that it avoids getting bogged down in the technical side of music production. It’s easy when you start learning production techniques to get overwhelmed or lost in all the information out there. This book excels at navigating that very problem, helping you build strong creative habits. Addressing all the issues that can affect you mentally when writing music, such as developing effective time management habits, staying motivated throughout your projects, and building a productive studio environment. It is the perfect book for those who want to boost creativity and inspiration and gain insight into the mental game of making music. One of the best books on music production for beginners.
My only small gripe is that the quality of the book I received felt a little cheap.
The Secrets of Dance Music Production – Attack Magazine
Someone kindly bought me The Secrets of Dance Music Production for Christmas a few years ago; I spent most of Christmas day reading it! I like how the book is laid out – very easy to read with loads of pictures.
If you’re wondering where to get started making electronic music, this is it; it’s
a great beginner’s book. It teaches you how to produce dance music using Ableton Live and includes tutorials on creating basslines, drum patterns, melodies, chords, leads, synths, effects, mixing, mastering, all within Ableton.
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It covers everything from how to get started, through to advanced techniques such as beat making, compression, MIDI Sequencing, EQ, mixing and mastering. What is nice about this book is that it also includes an extensive collection of audio examples, which helps you understand what each technique does. This also helps you understand why certain sounds work well together. This is a great feature as it helps you move theory into practice and helps train your ear.
One great benefit of this book is that it also contains over 100 video tutorials. This is so important when learning music production, you really need to hear what you are being taught. Understanding the theory of EQ & Compression is great, but you really need to know how it sounds!
It’s a useful book to help you make better music, whether you are a beginner or an experienced producer.
Master the art of beatmatching
Understand the importance of EQ and compression
Mix and master your tracks
Create unique sounds using different effects
Using MIDI & MIDI controllers
Produce songs using loops and samples
Learn how to record vocals and other musical instruments
How to produce your own tracks using Ableton Live
How to improve your songwriting skills
Another cool feature is the section where the authors break down a few well-known electronic tracks. You get to see the layers of the track and its overall arrangement with some beautiful visuals. I found this basic, but also very useful for visualizing and understanding a finished track. Especially as I’m a big fan of Blawan, whose track “Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage” is featured.
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Music theory for electronic music producers – Dr J Anthony Allen PhD
Dr. J Anthony Allen PhD’s Music Theory for Electronic Music is a comprehensive guide to music theory specifically tailored to producers of electronic music. This book is perfect for anyone who wants to learn about the fundamentals of music production, from composition and arrangement to sound design and mixing techniques.
The book starts off by introducing you to basic concepts such as scales, intervals, chords, and rhythm all using the MIDI grid within your digital audio workstation. Then it delves into more advanced topics like harmonic analysis and mixing techniques. It also covers some of the fundamental principles behind synthesis and sound design. Sound design is a great skill to hone when making electronic music as it helpt you develop your signature sound (so that you don’t sound like everyone else 😉
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The book includes lots of visuals that make it easier to understand concepts such as chord progressions or musical notation. What I like about this is that it is a non traditional way of learning music theory. As electronic music producers we spend so much time looking at a computer screen, so this approach makes learning theory much more familiar and accessible!
Dr. Allen also provides you with loads of examples throughout the book so you can gain a better understanding of how these concepts apply in actual practice scenarios. Additionally, he includes sections on digital audio workstations (DAWs) like Ableton Live and Logic Pro X so you can quickly get up-to-speed on using these tools in your own productions.
Finally, the book includes an extensive section on creative approaches to producing electronic music, providing valuable insight into how experienced producers approach the creative process from start to finish. This section provides tips on beat making and arrangement techniques as well as ways to stay inspired when writing new tracks or remixing existing ones. It also covers important topics such as collaboration with other musicians and dealing with writer’s block when composing songs or creating beats from scratch. Great stuff.
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Electronic music – 25 mixing tips for modern electronic music production – Roy Wilkenfield
As an electronic music producer, you know that mixing your tracks is one of the most important elements of making good music sound great. However, learning to mix music is an art and can be difficult to know exactly where to start. Fortunately, Roy Wilkenfield’s 25 mixing tips can help you improve your music making knowledge to really elevate your tracks A great mix can make all the difference to a piece of music!
The book starts off by giving an overview of the history of electronic music and its evolution. It then moves on to discuss mixing techniques, such as EQ and compression, and how they can be used in modern electronic music. There are also sections dedicated to building your skill in sound design and effects processing.
The book also covers tools and software for producing electronic music. It goes over different digital audio workstations (DAWs), plugins, software synths, and more. The book even gives an overview of the different types of hardware controllers that can be used to control DAWs and plugins. By the end of the book, you will have a better understanding of all aspects of modern electronic music making – from mixing styles and techniques to sound design tips.
The last section of the book is dedicated to Roy Wilkenfield’s own unique mixing tips and tricks. He shares his personal knowledge on how he mixes his tracks using EQ, compression, reverb, delay, filtering. He dives deep into the details so you can get a better understanding of how he creates his signature sounds. These tips are invaluable for anyone who wants to make their own unique mark on their productions.
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Rick Rubin in the Studio
Not specifically a production book, more a book about a producer’s artistic approach to making records. I think whilst learning how to make electronic music it’s really useful to learn from producers of all genres. Rubin has done just that and created records that span rap, country, rock, pop and EDM.
In the Studio offers a look at Rick Rubin’s unique production style and what goes on behind-the-scenes in the studio. It also includes interviews with some of his past collaborators like Johnny Cash, Kanye West, Adele, and Metallica. Not only do these interviews provide insight into how they create music together, but they also give us a glimpse into what makes Rick such a successful producer.
Rubin explains that when it comes to making music he looks for balance between the creative and technical elements. He believes that understanding both sides allows him to create powerful musical moments that resonate with people all over the world.
One thing that sets Rubin apart from other producers in the music industry is his willingness to experiment and take risks in order to push boundaries and find new sounds. He has always been open to trying new things which is why he has had such success throughout his career. It’s this approach that allows him to continually develop fresh ideas for each project he works on and why so many artists have sought out his expertise over the years. Inspiring stuff.
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Music Theory for Computer Musicians by Michael Hewitt
Music Theory for Computer Musicians is aimed at the electronic producer who wants to learn music theory. It is made more accessible for us electronic producers by utilising the piano roll from the DAW as well as more traditional music theory methods.
It covers everything from basic music theory terminology and concepts to more complex ideas like rhythm notation and improvisation techniques. The topics covered include scales, chords, harmony, melody, and rhythm. Which provides a solid foundation for any beginner.
The book also includes tutorials on how different aspects of music theory can be applied in various contexts such as making beats or producing songs. It offers tips on how to create better song structures and arrangements, as well as advice on sound design.
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The Benefits Of Learning Music Theory
Learning about music theory can be immensely beneficial skill for any musician regardless of their style or genre preference. It gives you a deeper understanding of how all the elements of a song work together, which in turn allows you to communicate more effectively with other musicians when collaborating on pieces or projects. Additionally, learning about music theory will greatly enhance your ability to recombine existing ideas into new ones that are both creative and original. Finally, having an understanding of how different elements interact within a song gives you control over every aspect of production – something that is necessary if you want to create professional-sounding tracks and beats!
Harmony for Computer Musicians
Written in the same style as ‘Music Theory for Computer Musicians” this book makes it easy for computer musicians to learn musical harmony. It covers all of the basics, from intervals and part writing to tonality, scales, chords, progressions and modulation, plus an array of clever tricks like modal interchange that can make your music really stand out.
Hewitt uses the method of explaining the techniques using digital sequences in “piano roll” form. This helps the book read in a clear and concise manner making complex concepts understandable for beginners. There’s a bunch of helpful diagrams and musical notation examples which make it easy to understand how each concept works in practice. Additionally, the exercises and quizzes at the end of each chapter offer practical ways to test your skill and understanding of what you’ve just learned. What I like about this book is that it includes a companion CD for you to practice the exercises.
Mastering Audio: The Art and Science – Bob Katz
Considered by Sound on Sound as “The definitive work on mastering… an indispensable resource for anyone working with audio. If you only buy one book on audio, this has to be it – it should be required reading for anyone involved with recording, producing or mastering music.“
Bob Katz has been in the music business for many years, he’s condensed his lifetime knowledge into this classic book on the art of mastering audio. Now in its third edition, the book has been re-written to focus on workflow and providing a step by step guide to the mastering process.
The book covers the fundamental concepts of mastering theory and practical techniques as well as advanced theory and practice. You’ll find the newest approaches to loudness maximization, dynamic range compression, the psychoacoustics of clipping, monitor response measurement and correction, equalization, an extended discussion of restoration and noise reduction techniques. There are an extended set of listening examples, and also an updated chapter on surround mastering.
Katz also offers practical advice on how to set up a mastering environment that is both comfortable and conducive to great results. He explains how factors such as room acoustics, speaker placement, listening distance, and monitor calibration all play a role in creating an optimal listening experience that will yield excellent results when it comes time to master your recording.
If you are a beginner, I would advise starting with books that help you focus on improving your mixes first.
Zen and the Art of Mixing by Mixerman.
A well respected book on mixing that takes a slightly different approach than the others in this list. Rather than just focus on the technical aspects this book focuses on the psychological techniques we can apply to improve our mixes.
The book is broken down into 7 chapters including a detailed introduction.
Chapter 1 concerns itself with the “Mix & the Mixer”
Chapter 2 “Arrangement & Focus,
Chapter 3 “Process”
Chapter 4 “Gear”,
Chapter 5 “ Communication Breakdown”,
Chapter 6 “Mastering” and
Chapter 7 “Bits”.
The Mixing Engineer’s Handbook by Bobby Owsinski
Bobby Owsinski has been active in the music industry as a music producer for many years. Bobby condenses his knowledge in this book to focus concepts like panning and EQing to more complex topics such as setting up monitor systems and understanding automation. Plus, it contains plenty of diagrams and illustrations which make difficult concepts easier to understand. Now in its 5th Edition this book is well established as one of the best music production books, a trusted classic.
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If you are looking to improve your music productions, check out my Free Stuff page, where I’ve collected lists of free plugins, free Ableton packs, and samples from around the web. I’m sure there’ll be something in there to improve your next piece of music. Enjoy!