Synthesizer books

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Books about using synthesizers and other electronic musical instruments. For these about Synth DIY electronics see Synth DIY books, and for more general books about electronics electronics books.

The A-Z of Analogue Synthesisers Part One: A-M by Peter Forrest[edit | edit source]

Susurreal Publishing, 1998, ISBN 0-9524377-2-4
The ultimate analog synth catalogue part one.

The A-Z of Analogue Synthesisers Part Two: N-Z by Peter Forrest[edit | edit source]

Susurreal Publishing, 2003, ISBN 0-9524377-3-2
The ultimate analog synth catalogue part two.

Advanced Programming Techniques for Modular Synthesizers edited by James J. Clark[edit | edit source]

2003. Online at nordmodularbook

Analog Days: The Invention and Impact of the Moog Synthesizer by Trevor Pinch[edit | edit source]

Harvard University Press, 2004, ISBN 0-674-01617-3, 384 pages

Analog Electronic Music Techniques in Tape, Electronic and Voltage-Controlled Synthesizer Studios by Joel Naumann and James D. Wagoner[edit | edit source]

1985, ISBN 0-02-873140-9

Analog Synthesis: The Newbie Guide by Reinhard Schmitz[edit | edit source]

Music Sales Ltd, 1999, ISBN 3-927954-37-3, 85 pages. Archived online via Wizoo Publishing GmbH

Analog Synthesizers: Understanding, Performing, Buying by Mark Jenkins[edit | edit source]

Routledge, 2019, ISBN 1138319368

An Individual Note of Music, Sound and Electronics by Daphne Oram[edit | edit source]

Anomie Academic, 2016, ISBN 1910221112, 160 pages
Galliard paperbacks, 1972, ISBN 0852491093, 145 pages

The Art of Electronic Music by Tom Darter and Greg Armbruster[edit | edit source]

1983/1985, ISBN 0-688-03106-4

A synthesist's guide to acoustic instruments by Howard Massey[edit | edit source]

224 pages, Amsco, 1987, ISBN 071191124X

The Complete Guide to Synthesizers by Devarahi[edit | edit source]

Prentice Hall, 1982, ISBN 0-13-160630-1, Available at The Snowfields

Creative Synthesizer Technique by Adam Holzman[edit | edit source]

Mel Bay Publications, 2020, ISBN 1513465031, 80 pages

The Development and Practice of Electronic Music by Jon Appleton and Ronald C. Perera[edit | edit source]

Prentice Hall, 1975, ISBN 0-13-207605-5, 208 pages
Especially chapter 4 by Joel Chadabe on The Voltage Controlled Synthesizer. In some ways similar to the Strange book, although not as extensive.[1]

Electronic Music: Systems, Techniques, Controls by Allen Strange[edit | edit source]

288 pages, McGraw-Hill Inc., 2nd revised edition, 1982, ISBN 0-697-03602-2
The 2nd edition has much more information than the 1st.[1]

Illustrated Compendium of Musical Technology by Tristam Cary[edit | edit source]

Faber & Faber, 1992, ISBN 0-571-15251-1, 544 pages. Simultaneously published in the US by Greenwood Press under the title Dictionary of musical technology, ISBN 0-313-28694-9.

Keyfax Omnibus by Julian Colbeck[edit | edit source]

MixBooks, 1996, ISBN 0-918371-08-2
Fairly comprehensive compendium of reviews of synths, samplers, organs and key controllers, from the Farfisa Compact circa mid-sixties, to the mid-nineties. Easy and fun to read, and a great reference. Nearly every entry has a B&W photo. Also look out for earlier editions from the eighties, where more obscure stuff is included.[2]

Die Klangwelt des Musiksynthesizers – Die Einfuehrung in die Funktions – und Wirkungsweise eines Modulsynthesizers'' by Dr. Bernd Enders[edit | edit source]

Franzis Verlag, 1985, ISBN 3-7723-7761-0 or ISBN 978-3-7723-7761-7 also at

Learning music with synthesizers by David Friend, Alan R. Pearlman and Thomas Piggot[edit | edit source]

Publisher: H. Leonard Pub. Corp, 1974, ASIN B0006CEUL2, 213 pages, Available at The Snowfields

Midi For Musicians by Craig Anderton[edit | edit source]

AMSCO Pubs, 1986, ISBN 0-8256-1050-8
May be considered a bit dated now. The full MIDI spec is in the back of the book.[2]

Music and the synthesizer by Bruce Graham[edit | edit source]

Argus Books, 1980, ISBN 085242695X, 142 pages

Music, Physics and Engineering by Harry F. Olson[edit | edit source]

Dover Publications Inc, 2003, ISBN 0486217698, 480 pages

Notes on Modular Synthesis by Peter Elsea[edit | edit source]


"A solid primer with many of the fundamental synthesis building blocks. It is module-agnostic, and evergreen stuff that will apply toward really any approach to synthesis."[3]

The New Complete Synthesizer by David Crombie[edit | edit source]

Omnibus Press, 1986, ISBN 0711907013, 112 pages
A moderately technical but very clearly written book on how synthesizers work, highly recommended.[4]

Patch & Tweak - Exploring Modular Synthesis by Kim Bjørn, Chris Meyer[edit | edit source]

Bjooks Media, 2018, ISBN 9788799999514

A beautiful coffee table book, useful if you're starting out in modular synthesis but not not much depth for the experienced user. It describes the building blocks for particular functions and includes interviews with well known modular builders and artists, as well as some patches to try out.[5]

Power Tools for Synthesizer Programming by Jim Aikin[edit | edit source]

2004, ISBN 0-87930-773-0

The Prophet from Silicon Valley: The Complete Story of Sequential Circuits by David Abernethy[edit | edit source]

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2015, ISBN 1-5121-9832-3, 274 pages

Push Turn Move - Interface Design in Electronic Music by Kim Bjorn[edit | edit source]

Bjooks Media, 2017, ISBN 9788799999507

Refining Sound – A Practical Guide to Synthesis and Synthesizers by Brian K. Shepard[edit | edit source]

Oxford University Press, 2013, ISBN 0-19-992296-9

Synthesizer Basics edited by Brent Hurtig[edit | edit source]

GPI Publications (Hal Leonard Pubs), 1984, ISBN 0-88188-714-5
Brilliant collection of articles that first appeared in Keyboard Magazine, most of them are by Robert Moog from the late 70s giving lucid explanations on topics such as Loudness and Attack Shaping, Principles Of Voltage Control, Phasers etc.[2]

The Musical Art of Synthesis by Sam McGuire and Nathan van der Rest[edit | edit source]

Routledge, 2015, ISBN 1138829781, 390 pages

The Synthesizer by Roland Corporation[edit | edit source]

2nd edition, Roland Corporation, 1979, ASIN B001E88X88, 4 volumes, paperback
Electronic Music, Multichannel Recording and Practical Synthesis books

Synthesizer: So funktioniert elektronische Klangerzeugung by Florian Anwander[edit | edit source]

PPV Medien GmbH, 2019, ISBN 3941531700

The Technique of Electronic Music by Thomas Wells[edit | edit source]

2nd edition, Macmillan USA, 1981, ISBN 0-02-872830-0, 304 pages.
Available at

Vintage Synthesizers by Mark Vail[edit | edit source]

Miller Freeman, 1993, ISBN 0-87930-603-3[2]

Welsh's Synthesizer Cookbook: Synthesizer Programming, Sound Analysis, and Universal Patch Book by Fred Welsh[edit | edit source]

3rd edition, 2006, ASIN B000ERHA4S, 128 pages
Great for bread and butter type stuff. Definitely more Moog based patches as opposed to Buchla/Serge etc. Has things like strings, bass, bells, leads, pianos etc.[1]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Mod Wiggler Wiki:Bibliography and Reading Materials (View authors).

  1. ^ a b c Mod Wiggler forum: Newb looking for 'Patching for dummies' kind of thing
  2. ^ a b c d The Synth-diy Archive, SDIY Wiki – books, April 2013
  3. ^ Beginner friendly video about basic utilities: mixing/attenuating/inverting/offset - with patchtips!, Mod Wiggler forum, September 2020
  4. ^ The ABCs of Synthesizers by Steven Powell, Music Educators Journal, Vol. 74, No. 4, pp. 27-31, Sage Publications, Inc. Dec. 1987
  5. ^ Patch and Tweak book?, Mod Wiggler Forum, October 2020

External links[edit | edit source]

Anything in-depth worth reading and longer than a page or two.

Sound and synthesizer theory[edit | edit source]

Patching[edit | edit source]

Music technology[edit | edit source]

Lists of books on other sites[edit | edit source]