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Book recommendations on synthesis techniques / sound design

Posted: Sun Jan 10, 2021 7:48 am
by yhf
Hi everyone,

I'm looking for book recommendations on synthesis techniques / sound design. Ideally with a focus on analogue (modular or non-modular) gear. Doesn't need to (but can) go into detail about the theoretical side of things. Should give practical tips on how to synthesize all kinds of things, for example drums, string instruments, speech...

Allen Strange's "Electronic Music" seems to be the go-to guide, but not available anywhere.

Any tips? Thank you in advance.

Re: Book recommendations on synthesis techniques / sound design

Posted: Sun Jan 10, 2021 8:33 am
by forestcaver
Print out the sound on sound series - I havent seen anything better tbh

Re: Book recommendations on synthesis techniques / sound design

Posted: Sun Jan 10, 2021 8:36 am
by BenA718
Both Patch & Tweak books are great resources.

Re: Book recommendations on synthesis techniques / sound design

Posted: Sun Jan 10, 2021 9:24 am
by yhf
forestcaver wrote:
Sun Jan 10, 2021 8:33 am
Print out the sound on sound series - I havent seen anything better tbh
Good idea, thanks!

Re: Book recommendations on synthesis techniques / sound design

Posted: Sun Jan 10, 2021 9:25 am
by yhf
BenA718 wrote:
Sun Jan 10, 2021 8:36 am
Both Patch & Tweak books are great resources.
Great, thank you!

Re: Book recommendations on synthesis techniques / sound design

Posted: Sun Jan 10, 2021 2:40 pm
by Snufflepuff
BenA718 wrote:
Sun Jan 10, 2021 8:36 am
Both Patch & Tweak books are great resources.
The patches are the most useful part of Patch and Tweak for me, but I wouldn't recommend it for general sound design. It doesn't teach you how to make a solo cello, how to make a string ensemble, how to artfully tune FM operators to make a bell, etc.

1. I second the Sound on Sound suggestion. It's a bit silly that, in the early 2000s, the author was ending his sections with "How can we realistically adapt our ideal patch to a simplistic early 80s monosynth, with all its shortcomings?" instead of calling up one or two instances of a modern (soft)synth, but the technical analysis is top notch. It would be nice if he had included a single non-representational (ie not from life) patch among the bunch.

2. Simon Cann's Analog Synthesis ebook. It could be a bit longer on actual examples vs explaining synthesis structure, but for $2.99, it's worth it.
3. Fred Welsh's Synthesizer Cookbook. He has a great, but inexplicably short chapter on recreating heard patches through analysis of the frequency spectrum. A great concept, but he certainly doesn't share all his wisdom (Looking at a given frequency distribution, he points out, "Well, I happen to know a synced pulse looks like this, so that's the solution."). The bulk of the book is patches for a generic monosynth. He quantifies the filter settings in actual frequency so you can attempt to reproduce them on your own synth. There are probably more examples of acoustic instruments than you need, but I think some of those patches exist as a learning tool rather than finished patches for actual performance.

4. Syntorial is an interactive synth app/video tutorial you can do for around $110 dollars. Learn a concept, listen to their patch without the settings visible, and try to reproduce it yourself. I haven't finished it, but it seems geared to nuance and transformation of a given sound with certain techniques, including sync, FM, AM... and less towards making a vintage organ, a cello pluck, a supersaw, etc.

5. I ordered the Modular Moon modular synthesis course book. https://www.modularmoon.com/the-book

I can tell you about it when it arrives.

Re: Book recommendations on synthesis techniques / sound design

Posted: Sun Jan 10, 2021 5:44 pm
by DaShmoop
This is a bit more of a self guided suggestion but you could make a list of particular things you're interested in learning to synthesize and individually research. For example, take some time learning how to spin your own hi hats. Hi hats are pretty easy, you can get away with just white noise, a VCA and a snappy envelope like maths. Or take some time to learn kick drums. This self guided process will teach you to be self sufficient and think creatively and rely less and less on needing to find a resource to do something.

Re: Book recommendations on synthesis techniques / sound design

Posted: Mon Jan 11, 2021 3:49 am
by yhf
Snufflepuff wrote:
Sun Jan 10, 2021 2:40 pm
BenA718 wrote:
Sun Jan 10, 2021 8:36 am
Both Patch & Tweak books are great resources.
The patches are the most useful part of Patch and Tweak for me, but I wouldn't recommend it for general sound design. It doesn't teach you how to make a solo cello, how to make a string ensemble, how to artfully tune FM operators to make a bell, etc.

1. I second the Sound on Sound suggestion. It's a bit silly that, in the early 2000s, the author was ending his sections with "How can we realistically adapt our ideal patch to a simplistic early 80s monosynth, with all its shortcomings?" instead of calling up one or two instances of a modern (soft)synth, but the technical analysis is top notch. It would be nice if he had included a single non-representational (ie not from life) patch among the bunch.

2. Simon Cann's Analog Synthesis ebook. It could be a bit longer on actual examples vs explaining synthesis structure, but for $2.99, it's worth it.
3. Fred Welsh's Synthesizer Cookbook. He has a great, but inexplicably short chapter on recreating heard patches through analysis of the frequency spectrum. A great concept, but he certainly doesn't share all his wisdom (Looking at a given frequency distribution, he points out, "Well, I happen to know a synced pulse looks like this, so that's the solution."). The bulk of the book is patches for a generic monosynth. He quantifies the filter settings in actual frequency so you can attempt to reproduce them on your own synth. There are probably more examples of acoustic instruments than you need, but I think some of those patches exist as a learning tool rather than finished patches for actual performance.

4. Syntorial is an interactive synth app/video tutorial you can do for around $110 dollars. Learn a concept, listen to their patch without the settings visible, and try to reproduce it yourself. I haven't finished it, but it seems geared to nuance and transformation of a given sound with certain techniques, including sync, FM, AM... and less towards making a vintage organ, a cello pluck, a supersaw, etc.

5. I ordered the Modular Moon modular synthesis course book. https://www.modularmoon.com/the-book

I can tell you about it when it arrives.
Wow, thanks! I'll have a look at your suggestions.

Re: Book recommendations on synthesis techniques / sound design

Posted: Mon Jan 11, 2021 3:53 am
by Sidiblue
I recommend the book by Allen strange "electronic music, techniques & controls". You will find it easily in pdf format on the net. Also you have the books Curtis Roads

Re: Book recommendations on synthesis techniques / sound design

Posted: Mon Jan 11, 2021 3:59 am
by yhf
DaShmoop wrote:
Sun Jan 10, 2021 5:44 pm
This is a bit more of a self guided suggestion but you could make a list of particular things you're interested in learning to synthesize and individually research. For example, take some time learning how to spin your own hi hats. Hi hats are pretty easy, you can get away with just white noise, a VCA and a snappy envelope like maths. Or take some time to learn kick drums. This self guided process will teach you to be self sufficient and think creatively and rely less and less on needing to find a resource to do something.
Thank you. I agree, that is a great approach. I've been doing that so far, especially with percussive sounds. Just thought it wouldn't hurt to back this knowledge up with some tried-and-true techniques.

Re: Book recommendations on synthesis techniques / sound design

Posted: Tue Jan 12, 2021 2:54 pm
by yhf
I've ordered a copy of "Patch & Tweak" and read various chapters of the "Sound On Sound" series (again). Thanks again, everybody.

Re: Book recommendations on synthesis techniques / sound design

Posted: Wed Jan 13, 2021 10:26 pm
by studio460
forestcaver wrote:
Sun Jan 10, 2021 8:33 am
Print out the sound on sound series - I havent seen anything better tbh
I'm not familiar with that. I searched "Sound on Sound modular synthesis" and got a bunch of articles, but I think, not that. Does anyone have a specific link or title?

Re: Book recommendations on synthesis techniques / sound design

Posted: Wed Jan 13, 2021 10:27 pm
by freakynorth
I’ve found the ARP 2600 manual useful!
I’ve yet to check out Sound on Sound etc..

Re: Book recommendations on synthesis techniques / sound design

Posted: Wed Jan 13, 2021 10:30 pm
by JAO
studio460 wrote:
Wed Jan 13, 2021 10:26 pm
Does anyone have a specific link or title?
I think forestcaver is referring to this series: https://www.soundonsound.com/series/synth-secrets

Re: Book recommendations on synthesis techniques / sound design

Posted: Wed Jan 13, 2021 10:33 pm
by studio460
Great! Thanks a lot!

Re: Book recommendations on synthesis techniques / sound design

Posted: Wed Jan 13, 2021 11:48 pm
by ndkent
Agree with SOS synth-secrets.

Your question leads into some bigger picture sorts of conundrums.

There are some good texts like Strange focused more on modulars though applies to analog techniques in general. Then again there are far more techniques than that out there. Then again some technology of sound sort of book may give it a quick pass.

Sound Design means different things to different people creating different things

Re: Book recommendations on synthesis techniques / sound design

Posted: Wed Jan 13, 2021 11:53 pm
by architexture
Sound Synthesis and Sound Design by Rob Hordijk https://docs.google.com/document/d/1CgR ... sp=sharing

I copied this from a web based format to a PDF printable format. Although it was written for the Nord Modular G2 the concepts are the same for all modular. Enjoy

Re: Book recommendations on synthesis techniques / sound design

Posted: Wed Jan 13, 2021 11:55 pm
by architexture

Re: Book recommendations on synthesis techniques / sound design

Posted: Thu Jan 14, 2021 12:08 am
by batch
Suzanne Ciani’s paper on her performance patches is really interesting. Written about Buchla, but transferable to other formats. Available on her site for $1. Also comes with the vinyl version of her “Buchla Concerts” album.

Re: Book recommendations on synthesis techniques / sound design

Posted: Sat Jan 16, 2021 5:41 am
by pixelmechanic
The Nord Modular Book by JJ Clark is great:

While the examples are illustrated using modules available in the Nord G1, they're a solid foundation on a range of approaches to synthesis.

Available as web pages and PDF

https://www.cim.mcgill.ca/~clark/nordmo ... k_toc.html

http://www.cim.mcgill.ca/~clark/nordmod ... arbook.pdf

Re: Book recommendations on synthesis techniques / sound design

Posted: Sat Jan 16, 2021 9:12 am
by MrNezumi
A wiggler is close to republishing the Allen Strange book. There is a lengthy thread about it in MW. You Should BUY a copy when it comes out (soonish).

Having said that, I have owned a copy of it for many years and highly recommend it -as a second or third book/source on synthesis. It is a college textbook and reads as such. The Sound On Sound series is aimed more at “home enthusiasts” than lab coat wearing folk. Nothing wrong with lab coats, but maybe not the easiest place to start.

Re: Book recommendations on synthesis techniques / sound design

Posted: Tue Jan 19, 2021 9:21 am
by EATyourGUITAR
I will give you the math, physics, computer science side of things since that seems to be something no one has posted yet. this list of books is ordered from start to finish. you can take it as far as you like. try to go in order. skip anything you already know. as a side note, you will definitely benefit from knowing the math and science behind sound and sound design. you could probably write the books on how to patch after you know the math of it.











https://www.amazon.com/Digital-Processi ... ing-ebook/






Re: Book recommendations on synthesis techniques / sound design

Posted: Tue Jan 19, 2021 4:05 pm
by oberdada
I'll give a list of books for computer music, some of which present sound design ideas in such a general way that they can be easily transferred to an all analog modular.

Andy Farnell's Designing Sound. Examples given for Pd, and very general ideas on how to mimick all sorts of sounds.
Dodge & Jerse: Computer Music. Synthesis, composition, and performance. As I recall from reading the first edition in the 90's it explained many standard synthesis techniques using some variant of MUSIC N and those familiar patch diagrams that obviously originated in a modular environment.
Miranda's Computer Sound Design. Elementary introduction to most standard synthesis techniques as well as a few more esoteric ones.
F. R. Moore's Elements of computer music. Good starting point for getting a grasp on digital signal processing, though not as strong on practical sound design.
Wishart's Audible Design. A compendium of ideas not found elsewhere that you just want to try after reading about them. Highly recommended.

Re: Book recommendations on synthesis techniques / sound design

Posted: Thu Jan 21, 2021 2:26 pm
by Multi Grooves
This is a bit of a hard to find classic:

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Re: Book recommendations on synthesis techniques / sound design

Posted: Thu Jan 21, 2021 3:28 pm
by starthief
To go deep:

Curtis Roads: Composing Electronic Music: A New Aesthetic, The Computer Music Tutorial and (if you're interested in granular) Microsound

...however, apparently there's a revised edition of the CMT on the way, if it ever comes out.

To go really deep:

Gareth Loy: Musimathics Vol. 1 and Vol 2

Volume 1 has a lot of stuff about pitch, tuning and scales, relevant physics concepts, circular/harmonic motion and vibration, acoustics, hearing and psychoacoustics, and composition.

Volume 2 is more directly relevant to synthesis, especially in the digital domain. The math is BRUTAL by my standards though, so I've honestly been skipping over a lot of it, and just gleaning a few bits of wisdom and insights into why certain things work the way they do. I think attempting to teach calculus in this format is too tall an order, and I'd really have to take a course to keep up. But there's a chapter on sampling theory, then imaginary/complex numbers, Fourier transforms, convolution, filters (digital), resonance, the wave equation, acoustical systems... I've read up to that point so far, and next are chapters on synthesis (including AM, FM and "vocal synthesis"), and dynamic spectra.