Michael A. Firman Electronic Music Bibliography

An Electronic Music Bibliography

In 1993 I put together a very short bibliography covering things of interest to analog synthesists (and synthesists in general, for that matter) and posted it to the synth newsgroup. I've recently run across this list again so I thought that I would put it up here. In particular, these are books that I have used in one way or another over the years. I thought that someone else might want to know about them.

Analog Synthesis Technique:

“Analog Electronic Music Techniques” (In Tape, Electronic, and Voltage-Controlled Synthesizer Studios) by Joel Naumann and James D. Wagoner.

This is a definitive text in the classic techniques. For analog synthesists it (along with the A.Strange book) is a must. For “modern” synthesists and electronic musicians this is a good historic piece.

“Electronic Music” (Systems, Techniques, and Controls) 2nd edition by Allen Strange.

This is similar to the Naumann and James book but also has many examples and discussions about specific systems used at the time (1983 for the second edition). Lots of patch examples and examples of score fragments. This is a favorite for opening randomly and reading for pleasure, but it also serves as a good reference if you want to know, say, what the “Sync” patch point on your VCO is for. This book also has a fabulous bibliography.

“The Complete Guide to Synthesizers” by Devarahi.

This was written in 1981 and reflects the state of analog synthesis at the time. It is very well written and is especially handy if you have an ARP 2600. The book uses the ARP 2600 as its main stage for example patches (which there are many). Those who are familiar with the 2600 know that the system is general enough to make the patches designed for it applicable across many platforms. There are also some cool pictures of old gear in the middle of the book.

“The Synthesizer” (a four volume set) published by Roland.

This set is probably no longer available but if you can find a set (they are four 8.5x11 thin paperbacks) in a used bookshop they are worth it. They are designed to be the handbooks for the Roland System 100M, one of Roland's modular synthesizers. The patches are versatile and can be applied across the modular synth spectrum.

Electronic Music Theory and History:

“The Art of Electronic Music” Compiled by Tom Darter and edited by Greg Armbruster.

This is a fun book. It contains a history of electronic music starting with the Telharmonium. The book proceeds into interviews with some pioneers in the field. The interviews include Robert Moog, Donald Buchla, Tom Oberheim, Dave Smith, Max Mathews and John Chowning to name a few.

Electronics and Construction Technique:

“Build A Better Music Synthesizer” by Thomas Henry.

This was written in 1987 so has a somewhat modern approach to an older subject. Most of the designs revolve around the Curtis (CEM) and Solid State Micro Technology (SSM) chipsets. There is a detailed discussion about the design of each module and (limited) applications for the module are indicated.

“Electronic Music Production” 2nd Edition by Alan Douglas.

The second edition of this was written in 1982. This book has a lot of simple circuits that cover all E-music functions.

“Electronic Music Synthesizers” by Delton T. Horn

This book originally appeared in 1980 and has been recently updated. The old book is better for voltage control stuff and the newer book has some MIDI circuits.

“Electronic Music Circuits” by Barry Klein

This was written in 1982. Many of the designs use the CEM or SSM chips but not all do. There are many circuits in this book. The book also has detailed descriptions of the chips (including reprints of the data sheets in an appendix). There are also a lot of construction techniques and helpful hints. As I have stated earlier, I haven't designed any modules myself but I have built various convenience modules (power supplies, converter modules, etc.) at times. This book has come in handy at those times.