Composer's Essential Music Book List

As a composer, I have found these practical books to be invaluable to me.

The Study of Orchestration
Samuel Adler

A great resource covering all instrumental writing, with sections on contemporary writing techniques. The appendix in the back is a quick reference guide.

The Essential Music Reference Library
Alfred Publishing

Complete with an essential dictionary of music, orchestration, music notation,and rhyming dictionary, this quick reference guide has been a godsend.

Dictionary of Percussion Terms
Lang/Spivak

I think one of the weaknesses of the contemporary composer is the inability to write exciting and appropriate percussion parts. This quick reference helps with defining the proper terms for techniques, mallets, instruments, etc., and will open up the possiblities of the compositional palette.

Schirmer Pocket Manual of Musical Terms

Another great quick reference guide.

Tonal Harmony
Kostka and Payne

I swallowed this music theory book whole. It is a must for serious composers.

Each of these books are within arm's reach whenever I am composing. Whether you have just started the exciting journey of music creation or are a seasoned veteran, these books should grace your shelves.

I know I omitted many, MANY well-known books, but I feel these few are the most practical and understandable for day-to-day composition.

Happy Composing!

S.P.Young

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