If you’re like us, once you’ve found a hobby or passion, you begin to obsess about it and want to learn the ins and outs of every angle possible. Even if you’re not as OCD or addictive in nature as us, reading up on tips and tricks and other strategies to help step up your production\mixing\engineering game or merely your knowledge in general is always a great idea and will never hurt. We did a lot of research today as well as based on our own experience and found the top 10 best essential music making, production as well as engineering books to help add to your creative toolbox. It never hurts to learn as much as you can — it’ll only increase your awareness and overall potential as a musician.
How to choose your music making book(s)
There are a few aspects to take into consideration when you’re shopping around for music making books. First and foremost, what exactly are you looking for when it comes to music making and production? Strictly producing, making hit songs, mixing, mastering, engineering, or perhaps some info on the music business? All of the above?
There are books that cover recording techniques for particular instruments, mixing strategies for those solo musicians in their basements, or even professionals in a high-cost studio. We chose from all of the above to help you with your options. Always keep in consideration that you can buy more than one book as well.
The top 10 best music making\production books
The following is our list of top 10 best books for music production. Let us know if you have any recommendations in the comments as we are always all ears for help! Also be sure to let us know which book you end up going with.
The Mixing Engineer’s Handbook
Here’s one of the best books out there when it comes to mixing — and in our opinion for all ranges of “expertise”. It highlights various key points of mixing: mechanics, preparation, monitoring, dynamics (compression and gates), adding effects and more. This thing has a reputation in the music industry for a reason — the reviews back it up and if you’re interested in mixing at all, we highly recommend it.
Modern Recording Techniques
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This is a great book in terms of acting as a reference for insights into the practice and theory of actually recording audio. If you’re a sample-based or MIDI musician, this won’t do much for you unless you’re recording vocals. However, if you record various instruments (or perhaps just a few), it will only help your technique (yes, there’s a lot that goes into recording as opposed to merely pointing a microphone at an instrument or plugging in a cable!).
Audio Engineering 101
Audio engineering is definitely complicated. We have friends who have gone to school and hold various experience in the field and still say it is an art form. This book here is particularly for those looking into the engineering realm of music production. The author is clearly experienced when it comes to engineering and incorporates his anecdotes into the writing as opposed to cramming in a research paper.
Behind the Glass
It’s about 15 years old but in reality we think that’s a good thing. It’s a compilation of “secret” about “hit-making techniques”. Now I don’t expect any of us to go out and make a hit song after reading this, but it’s definitely an interesting read and can give you a few things to keep in mind while making a song to make it appealing to a larger audience. The author incorporates info from legends like Pink Floyd, Beach Boys, The Beatles, Phil Ramone, and more. This series was highly praised in the best music production books thread over at GS.
Music Theory for Computer Musicians
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This is a nice change of pace when it comes to making music as many of us are computed-based nowadays. It sifts through topics such as tempo and note lengths, chord progressions, arpeggios, inversions of keys and more. This is more of an all-in-one book and we love it because it takes digital audio workstations and more modern-day tools into consideration when speaking about music theory and production tips.
Instrument and Vocal Recording
Here’s another great read on tips and tricks on actually recording instruments. It comes with illustrations as well as video examples of the various techniques in the book. It’s great for getting to know your equipment, which angles to go for, how close to an instrument you should be, etc. Instruments include brass, strings, mics — you name it. Although you may not necessarily use all of these instruments, understanding how recording depends on various aspects helps increase your general knowledge for the future.
The Art of Music Production
This one highlights the role producers have in the song making process. What’s cool is it gets into the personal side of being a producer as well — the career-related changes one must undergo as well as the changes of production due to technology. The author also highlights a lot of information about the industry and how tough it really is to network and trust others — merely a reality.
Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio
We love this book. It’s geared towards those in a home studio who want to get the best out of their tracks first-hand. We’re not going to be getting professional mixes done by a mixing giant, but if you read this, it’s only going to help take your sound a step further. Although we feel it ultimately comes down to the beauty of the track and the mind behind it, you’d be surprised at how much better your songs will sound if you learn how to mix properly — it could be a make or break for you, especially if you’re competing with other home studio musicians.
Rick Rubin: In the Studio
Here’s a bit of a change of pace when it comes to books about music making and production, but we wanted to include it in here because it’s a great read. We also feel that Mr. Rubin is one of the most successful producers out there and reading about what he’s done\gone through can only help inspire us and put into perspective what this producing thing actually entails. This guy is pretty interesting — practices Buddha, has risked many things in his life to be where he is, and was called “the most important producer in the last 20 years” by MTV. If this catches your attention we highly recommend it if you have the time to sit down and read it. You may even want a break from all the theory and technique stuff.
All You Need to Know About the Music Business
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Last but not least we have a big part of this whole music making thing — the industry! Although many artists becoming more and more independent with the advancement of technology, the business side of music making is something none of us will be ever able to ignore. Even if you don’t plan on “trying to make it” or start a record label, it’s incredibly important to be aware of this side of the game. What separates many producers\artists from others is their ability to network, hustle and understand the business side of things. Look at people like Jay-Z who have started from the ground up — do you think that was by accident? If you’re serious about this and want to excel, take a look at this and don’t ignore the other half of music many are too afraid to get in to.