Last modified: Mon Jan 25, 1999

Magnus Synth Book Page


This is a tryout on an idea to collect book references for Synth DIY folks. I selected to add a number of books in adjacent fields since I felt that these where more or less usefull for people. I hope that people will contribute to make the reference more complete.

For some books have comments been provided, these are the personal views of those persons, may it be good or bad. Some of these books I don't own and thus can't really say much about, you will however see what books I own, since I added a longer comments on these. Others have been very kind to contribute both comments and additional books, there names can be find below. I have marked the comments with a small code, so that one can see who had that comment.

Contributors (in order of contribution):
Magnus Danielson (MD), Jerry Federspiel (for a summary to start from), Anthony ?? (A?), Björn Julin (BJ), Ian Fritz (IF), Steve Varner (for a pointer to MM), Jessica Piper (JP) and Tim Nowaczyk

Craig Anderton
Do-It-Yourself Projects for Guitarists: 35 Useful, Inexpensive Projects That Help You Unlock Your Instruments's Potential
1995 (first edition?) by Miller Freeman Books, 176 pages
ISBN 0-87930-359-X (softcover)
MD: While I don't have this book I have been reading it slightly. It is a beginners book aimed at simplicity.

Craig Anderton
MIDI for musicians
1986 by Amsco Publications
ISBN 0-8256-1050-8 (paperback) and ISBN 0-8256-2214-X (paperback and cover)

Craig Anderton, Bob Moses and Bartlett
Digital Projects for Musicians
1995 by Music Sales Corp
ISBN 0-825-61384-1
I know nothing about this book.

John Bates
The synthesizer
1988 by Oxford University Press
ISBN 0-19-321337-0

K. Blair Benson (editor)
Audio Engineering Handbook
1988 by McGraw-Hill
ISBN 0-07-004777-4
MD: A very good book indeed. It goes into depth on many topic covering hearing, acoustics, tape, records, CDs, cinema, broadcast etc.

Herman J. Blinchikoff and Anatol I. Zverev
Filtering in the Time and Frequency Domains
1976 by Krieger Publishing Company
ISBN 0-89874-952-2.
MD: This is a very good book on filter theory and also on the various approximate responces like Butterworth, Bessel, Chebychev, Lagendre and Gauss. It also has a chapter on digital filters in the end, but what a chapter! I warmly recommend this book.

Michael Boom
Music through MIDI: using MIDI to create your own electronic music system
1987 by Microsoft Press
ISBN 1-55615-026-1

John Borwick (editor)
Loudspeaker and Headphone Handbook
1988 by Butterworth & Co
ISBN 0-408-01387-7
MD: For those interested in the trade of building speakers this book is a very good startingpoint. It contains very good text on various issues in the field.

Robert Brown and Mark Olsen
Experimenting with electronic music
1974 and 1984 by Tab Books
ISBN 0-830-63666-8 and ISBN 0-830-62666-2 (pocket)
I know nothing about this book. To the best of my knowledge it is out of print.

Joel Chadabe
Electric Sound: The Past and Promise of Electronic Music
1996 (first edition) by Prentice Hall, 370 pages
ISBN 0-131-03231-0 (paperback)
JP: This is a very well-researched, well-written book. It traces the history of computer music, focusing on the universities and major electronic music labs. The closest it gets to analog synths and non- or semi-university affiliated individuals is some stuff about Morton Subnotnik, Don Buchla & Pauline Oliveros, and a short bit about Bob Moog. Chadabe goes on at great length, and in great detail, about IRCAM, Max Matthews and the GROOVE project, Serge & Ivan Tcheperin at Harvard, etc. Not without limitations, and written about a more highbrow crowd than many on Synth-DIY (or certainly Analog Heaven) would be interested in, but recommended none the less.

Hal Chamberlin
Musical Applications of Microprocessors
1980 (first edition) by Hayden Books
ISBN 0-810-5773-3
Note: See second edition below!

Hal Chamberlin
Musical Applications of Microprocessors
1985 (second edition) by Hayden Books (A division of Howard W. Sams Books)
ISBN 0-672-45768-7 or ISBN 0-810-45753-9
BJ: One of the "Bibles" in electronic music cirquit design both analogue and digital. Signal analysis theory, nonlinear, wosim, wave shaping, FFT, program listnings in BASIC and assembler for the 68k and 6502 CPU. Highely Recomended by BJ.

J. Chareyron
Digital Synthesis of Self-modifying Waveforms by Means of Linear Automata
1990 by Computer Music Journal Vol. 14, No. 4

J. Chowning
The Synthesis of Complex Audio Spectra by Means of Frequency Modulation
1973 by Journal of Audio Engineering Society Vol. 21, no 7, p. 526-534

J. Chowning and D. Bristow
FM Theory and Applications by Musicians for Musicians
1986 by Yamaha Music Foundation
ISBN 4-636-17482-8

Jim Conger
C Programming for MIDI
1989 by M&T Books

Jim Conger
MIDI sequencing in C
1989 by M&T Books
ISBN 1-55851-045-1 (book), ISBN 1-55851-046-X (book and disk) and ISBN 1-55851-047-8 (disk)

Clyde F. Coombs Jr (editor)
Printed Curcuits Handbook, Fourth Edition
1995 (fourth edition) by McGraw-Hill, 1088 pages
ISBN 0-07-012754-9 (hard cover)
MD: This is a very good book if you want to learn a lot of diffrent issues about making PCBs. It a "brick" book full of papers from various people working in the trade. Many usefull descriptions on manufacturing and mounting techniques as well as description on layout and issues concerning that.

David Cope.
"Computers and Musical Style".
1991 by A-R Editions.
ISBN 0-89-579256-7.

David Crigger
The MIDI drummer: by a drumer for a drummer
1987 by Alexander Publishing

David Crombie
The synthesizer and electronic keyboard handbook
1984 by Knopf
ISBN 0-394-54084-0 and ISBN 0-394-72711-8 (paperback)

Norman Crowhurst
Electronic Musical Instruments
1971 by Tab Books
ISBN 0-8306-1546 (hardbound) or ISBN 0-8306-0546-0 (paperback)
MD: A very basic book on synthesizers, their theory some curcuits and some pictures of early Monsters (including some shoots of Walter Carlos Moog).

Deta S. Davis.
"Computer Applications in Music: A Bibliography".
1992 by A-R Editions.
ISBN 0-89579-225-7 or 0-89579-267-2.

Don Davis and Carolyn Davis
Sound System Engineering, Second Edition
1986 (second edition) by Howard W. Sams & Co, 665 pages
ISBN 0-672-21857-7
Important Note: There is a Third edition, get that!
MD: This is a very good book on various issues on sound systems and how they are designed and measured. It has some very good writings on wiring and grounding among others. If more people would take books like this to their heart it would certainly provide a posibbility for a higher quality sound around us. Very practically oriented in my mind. I must go and get the third edition some day.

Charles Dodge and Thomas A. Jerse.
Computer Music: Synthesis, Composition and Performance
1985 by Schirmer Books.
ISBN 0-02-873100-X.

Len Dorfman and Dennis Young
Atari ST Introduction to MIDI Programming
19xx by Bantam Books
ISBN 0-916439-77-1

Bernd Enders and Wolfgang Klemme
MIDI und sound-buch zum Atari ST
1989 by M&T Publishing
ISBN 1-55851-042-7

Sergio Franco
Design with operational amplifiers and analog integrated circuits, second edition
1998 by WCB/McGraw-Hill
ISBN 0-07-021857-9
MD: This is a very good book for anyone that wishes to learn more on op-amp design. I strongly recommend it. Since Dr. Franco has been designing music synthesizers himself it is not supprising that curcuits that play a role for synth DIYers is to be found here. This book outweigth many other op-amp books with much better descriptions as well as practicall orientation and example curcuits with real component values.

Dean Friedman
Synthesizer basics
1986 by Amsco
ISBN 0-8256-2409-6 (paperback)

Steve De Furia and Joe Scacciaferro
MIDI programming for the Macintosh
1988 by M&T Books
ISBN 1-55851-021-4, ISBN 1-55851-022-2 (book and disk) and ISBN 1-55851-023-0 (disk)

Steve De Furia and Joe Scacciaferro
The MIDI Implementation book
1986 by ??

Steve De Furia and Joe Scacciaferro
The MIDI programmer's handbook
1989 by M&T Pub
ISBN 1-55851-068-0

Steve De Furia and Joe Scacciaferro
The MIDI Resource book
19xx by ??
ISBN 0-88188-587-8

Steve De Furia and Joe Scacciaferro
The MIDI System Exclusive book
19xx by ??

Paul R. Gray and Robert G. Meyer
Analysis and Design of Analog Integrated Circuits, Third Edition
1977,1984 and 1993 by John Wiley & Sons
ISBN 0-471-57495-3
MD: This is a great book on analog circuits. While oriented towards analog ICs it is not a limiting factor. A good description of many diffrent op-amp cursuit as well as the Gilbert multiplier. I find myself looking at this book in bookstores and such, just to recall that I allready have it.

Thomas Henry
Build a better music synthesizer
1987 by Tab Books
ISBN 0-8306-0255-0 and ISBN 0-8306-2755-3 (paperback)
JP: Is a collection of analog circuits, mostly based on SSM, CEM et al chips. A few discrete modules. An application book, not about theory.

Thomas Henry
Electronic music circuits: reprints
19xx by ??
JP: It's twenty-odd circuits that he had published in periodicals between (roughly) 74 and 85.
MD: Please look here for it.

Delton T. Horn
49 Electronic 6-Volt Projects
1990 by Tab Books
This book is a real beginners book according to my sources. To the best of my knowledge it is out of print.

Delton T. Horn.
Music Synthesizers: A Manual of Design and Construction.
1984 by Tab Books.
I know nothing about this book.

Delton T. Horn.
Troubleshooting & Repairing Electronic Music
1992 by Tab Books.
ISBN 0-8306-3921-7.

Paul Horowitz and Winfield Hill.
The Art of Electronics, Second Edition.
1989 by Cambridge University Press.
ISBN 0-521-37095-7.
MD: This is a book that I strongly recommend. It is a good book on general electronics and covers many fields and contains many good and bad tips to let you ponder over. Contains good references.

Digital Signal Processing Committee of IEEE Acoustics, Speech and Signal Processing Society (editor).
Programs for Digital Signal Processing
1979 by IEEE Press
ISBN ??.

Howard Johnson and Martin Graham.
High-Speed Digital Design - A Handbook of Black Magic.
1993 (first edition) by Prentice Hall, 384 pages
ISBN 0-13-395724-1 (cloth)
MD: This is a very good book for those seeking hands-on tips on how to really design and measure high-speed digital designs. This book doesn't describe any of that digital theory, it assumes you know that and just have trouble making good designs. It is a very crash-coarse oriented book that certainly helped me to clear up several issues. Here you learn the troubles of bypass capacitors, paths of currents, impedance mathching etc. A lot of these techniques makes sound reading even for more modest analog designs.

David Keane.
Tape Music Composition
1980 by Oxford University Press.
ISBN 0-19-311919-6.

by the editors of Keyboard magazine
Synthesizer basics
1984 (first edition) by H. Leonard Pub.
ISBN 0-88188-289-5 (paperback)
Note: See second edition!

by the editors of Keyboard magazine
Synthesizer basics
1988 (second edition) by H. Leonard Pub.
ISBN 0-88188-714-5 (paperback)

by the editors of Keyboard magazine
Synthesizer technique
1987 by Hal Leonard Books
ISBN 0-88188-715-3 (paperback)

Barry L. Klein
Electronic Music Circuits
1982 by Howard W Sams Books
ISBN 0-672-21833-X
BJ: Analog synthesiser designs, a mix of 50% custom IC's as CEM and SSM, and 50% discreete designs. Recomended by BJ. Note: Barry has two separat paperback updates and additionals of this book,you can reach him at: Barry L. Klein <> Barry L. Klein <>

Don Lancaster
CMOS Cookbook
1988 (second edition) by Howard W Sams, 512 pages
ISBN 0-672-22459-3
BJ: Covers most CMOS Logic devices available today, does not cover the latest HC,LV CMOS designs of today. But never the less "a must" book for anyone designing with CMOS IC's. One of the application "Bibles" in electronics design. Recomended by BJ.
MD: I had a great joy reading this book many, many years ago and still misses it. People should be aware that this book is being referenced whenever you may not suspect it.

Marc LeBrun
A derivation of the Spectrum of FM with a Complex Modulation Wave.
1977 by Computer Music Journal Vol. 1, No. 4, p. 51-52

Marc LeBrun
Digital Waveshaping Synthesis
1979 by Journal of the AES Vol. 27, No. 4, p. 250-266

R.M Marston.
Audio Circuits Manual.
1989 by Hieneman Newes.
ISBN 0-434-91210-7.
BJ: Talks about basic applied OP AMP and discrete AMP designs. VCA design around LM13600,NE570/1.
Bar Grap displays using LM3914/15/16,U237/47/57/67 IC's. And a lot of BBD designs, schemos for Chorus, Delays, Flanger, Phaser,etc using MN3005,MN3004,MN3011,TDA1022,TDA1097,SAD4096,SAD512,SAD1024. Well written ,easy to understand for the novice, no math, a application book. One of the few books i have come across who talks about BBD designs. A nice little pocket book ,Most recomended by BJ.

Howard Massey
A syntesist's guide to acoustic instruments
1987 by Amsco Publications

Howard Massey
The MIDI home studio
1988 by Amsco Publications
ISBN 0-8256-1127-X

Dominic Milano (editor)
Mind over MIDI
1987 by Hal Leonard Books
ISBN 0-88188-551-7

Dominic Milano (editor)
Synthesizer programming
1987 by Hal Leonard Books
ISBN 0-88188-550-9 (paperback)

David Miles Huber
The MIDI manual
1991 by Howard W. Sams, 250 pages
ISBN 0-672-22757-6

F. Richard Moore.
Elements of Computer Music
1990 (first edition) by Prentice Hall, 656 pages
ISBN 0-13-252552-6 (paper)

F. Richard Moore
Table Lookup Noise for Sinusoidal Digital Oscillators.
1977 by Computer Music Journal Vol.1, No. 2, p. 22-29
Note: Reprinted in Curtis Roads "Foundations of Computer Music"

J.A. Moorer
The synthesis of Complex Audio Spectra by Means of Discrete Summation Formulae
1975 by Stanfrod University Music Department
Report no STAN-M-5

Dexter Morrill and Rick Taube
A Little Book of Computer Music Instruments
19xx by ??.
ISBN ??.

C. D. Motchenbacher and J.A. Connelly.
Low-Noise Electronic System Design.
1993 by John Wiley & Sons.
ISBN 0-471-57742-1.
MD: If you are looking for a good reference on low noise cursuits I would recommend this book. It gives a very thorough description of noise and its origin and how to design for low noise. It makes extensive use of SPICE simulations so a reader ought to redo the simulations in a fairly quick way.

Harry F. Olson.
Acoustical Engineering
1957, 1991 by Professionals Audio Journals.
ISBN ??.
MD: Many so called Hi-fi people think they invent new stuff, this is most often not so. When you read this old classic you will find many interesting and obscure solutions and I often find myself searching in this book when people claim to have something new. While the material is old it was originally written with care so it has survived the time increadibly well. Read about the RCA synthesizer by the man who designed it.

Alan V. Oppenheim (editor).
Applications of Digital Signal Processing
1978 by Prentice Hall
ISBN 0-13-039115-8

Alan V. Oppenheim and Ronald W. Schafer.
Digital Signal Processing.
1975 (first edition) by Prentice Hall
ISBN 0-13-214635-5 (cloth)
MD: This is a high quality book by real researchers in the field. It is a complementary book to Rabiner and Gold's "Theory and Application of Digital Signal Processing" but can stand on its own. However, these two books cover the field of DSPs so well that many other books become useless. This is a reference book indeed. I ended up getting this book while running across it in Washington DC and found that I had been missing it for some time, it fills in greately where Rabiner and Gold's book have week sections.

Henry W. Ott.
Noise Reduction Techniques in Electronic Systems, Second Edition.
1988 by John Wiley & Sons.
ISBN 0-471-85068-3.
MD: A good book in the issues of EMC. This is a very usefull book and has great chapters on Cabling and Grounding among other things. It should be quite readable for the DIYer as well from someone who wishes to learn more in the EMC field. I did not regret bying this book!

Bonaventura Antony Patruzo.
Making Music With Microprocessors.
1984 by Tab Books.
ISBN 0-830-60729-3 (hard cover?) and ISBN 0-830-61729-9 (pocket).
JP: The title is misleading; the book is actually about building a hybrid computer-controlled analog synthesizer. The introduction discusses basic music theory, notation, and acoustics. The next sections presents some basic analog synth circuits. (And never mentions the touchy subject of exponential conversion!) The rest of the book discusses using laughably obsolete single board computers such as the KIM-1 to control the synthesizer. All in all a standard mediocre TAB application book.

Clayton R. Paul.
Introduction to Electromagnetic Compability.
1992 by John Wiley & Sons.
ISBN 0-471-54927-4.
MD: A good book on the issues of EMC.

Robert A. Pease.
Troubleshooting Analog Circuits.
1991 by Butterworth-Heinemann.
ISBN 0-7506-9148-0 (hardcover) and ISBN 0-7506-9499-8 (softcover).
MD: This is a book I recommend, it will not provide you with all the solutions, rather it helps you start thinking and provides various hints on how to acheive things. There is plenty of good anecdotes that makes you think a bit different or maybe make you learn what was important and what was not important. He knows his field well and doesn't hide his own failures, rather, they become good stories too in the end.

R.A. Penfold
MIDI Projects
19xx by Bernard Babani Press
ISBN 0-85934-156-9

Ken C. Pohlmann
The Compact Disc: A Handbook of Theory and Use
19xx by A-R Editions
ISBN 0-89579-234-6 (cloth) and ISBN 0-89579-228-1 (paper)
See second edition "The Compact Disc Handbook, 2nd edition".

Ken C. Pohlmann
The Compact Disc Handbook, 2nd edition
1992 by A-R Editions
ISBN 0-89579-300-8 (soft cover)

Jeff Pressing
Synthesizer performance and realtime techniques
1992 by A-R Editions
ISBN 0-89579-257-5

Steve Quinzi
Synthesizer orchestration: a creative approach for the arranger and synthesist
1987 by Studio 224

Lawrence R. Rabiner and Bernard Gold.
Theory and Application of Digital Signal Processing.
1975 by Prentice Hall.
ISBN 0-13-914101-4
MD: This is a high quality book by real researchers in the field. It is a complementary book to Oppenheim and Schafer's "Digital Signal Processing". However, these two books cover the field of DSPs so well that many other books become useless. This is a reference book indeed. This book was for a very long time my only book in the field, and this was not much of a limit. May I also say that this is a highly readable book, it really brings the message out.

Curtis Roads
A Computer Music History: Musical Automation from Antiquity to the Computer Age
19xx by ??

Curtis Roads (editor)
Composers and the Computer
1985 by A-R Editions
ISBN 0-86576-085-3.

Curtis Roads and John Strawn (editors)
The Foundations of Computer Music
1985 by MIT Press
ISBN 0-26-218114-2

Jeff Rona
MIDI, the ins, outs and thrus
1987 by H. Leonard Books
ISBN 0-88188-560-6 (paperback)

Joseph Rothstein
MIDI: A Comprehensive Introduction, 2nd edition
1995 by A-R Editions
ISBN 0-89579-309-1 (softcover)

Francis Rumsey
MIDI systems and control
1990 by Focal Press
ISBN 0-240-51300-2

Rey Sanchez
MIDI guitar
1988 by CPP/Belwin
ISBN 0-89898-544-7

Bill Schottstaedt
The Simulation of Natural Instrument Tones Using Frequency Modulation with a Complex Modulation Wave.
1977 by Computer Music Journal 1, 4 pages 46-50

Jorge de Sousa Pires
Electronics Handbook
1989 by Studentlitteratur Lund.
ISBN 91-44-21021-3 (from Studentlitteratur) and ISBN 0-86238-061-8 (from Chartwell-Bratt)
BJ: A 800 pages reference book about standards, fundamental electronics for analogue and digital, more like the book The Art of Electronics but not as big and comprehencive as it. If you have forgott abot that Mesh funktion, then i can recomend this book ,BJ.

John Strawn (editor)
Digital Audio Signal Processing
19xx by A-R Editions
ISBN 0-86576-082-9

John Strawn (editor)
Digital Audio Engineering: An Anthology (Computer Music and Digital Audio Series)
1985 by A-R Editions
ISBN 0-86576-087-X (hardcover)

Ben G. Streetman
Solid State Electronic Devices, Fourth Edition
1995 (fourth edition) by Prentice Hall, 462 pages
ISBN 0-13-158767-6 (cloth) and ISBN 0-13-436379-5
MD: This is a undergraduate student textbook on semiconductors. I must admitt that I read the book more for the fun of reading it than taking the exam of the course (which I BTW still need to take). Never the less, this is a good book and may help to understand what is really happening down there in the silicon (or whatever). I find myself getting back to this book when thinking about exponential cursuits among other things.

Ulrich Tietze, Christopher Schenk and E. Schmid
Electronic Circuits: Design and Applications
1991 by Springer Verlag
ISBN 0-387-50608-X
I know nothing about this book.

Mark Vail
The Hammond Organ - Beauty in the B
1997 by Miller Freeman Inc.
ISBN 0-87930-459-6 (paperback)
MD: Having a weakness for Hammonds I have found much joy with this book. It's not full of schematics and detailed mechanic descriptions, but rather it gives a overview of the Hammond company, it's products, it's users and a basic walkthrough on how the Hammond works and some tricks on restoration and service.

Mark Vail
Vintage Synthesizers
1993 by Miller Freeman Inc.
ISBN 0-87930-275-5 (paperback)
MD: Gives a lot of nice background history on the creation and uses of classical synthesizers as well as describing the rise and fall of the mythic firms that brought us these creations. It also goes into less known sibblings in the familly.

Robert S. Villanucci, Alexander W. Avtgis, William F. Megow
Electronic Techniques: Shop Practices and Construction
1999 (sixth editon) by Prentice Hall, 626 pages
ISBN 0-13-779455-X (Cloth)
A?: I've been reading this book as a text book in my PCB fabrication class at school (Cal Poly Pomona) and i find that it gives a ton on the making of PCB's,chassis building, etc. Anything in that realm is covered in great amounts of detail.

Wayne Wadhams
Sound Advice: a Musician's Guide to the Recording Studio
1990 by Schirmer Books
ISBN 0-02-872694-1

John V. Wait, Lawrence P. Huelsman and Granino A. Korn
Introduction to Operational Amplifier Theory and Applications
1991 (second edition) by McGraw-Hill, 380 pages
ISBN 0-07-067770-0 (hard back) and ISBN 0-07-112885-9 (softback)
MD: A very nice book that describes many usefull op-amp curcuits and their theory. Covers both linear and non-linear cursuits as well as op-amp theory and op-amp based filters.

Bob Ward and Marty Cutler
MIDI for guitarists
1988 by Amsco Publications
ISBN 0-8256-1126-1

John Watkinson
The Art of Digital Audio
1988 by Focal Press
ISBN 0-240-51270-7
MD: A good book for introduction into various fields of digital audio.

Thomas H. Wells
The Technique of Electronic Music
1981 by Schirmer Books
ISBN 0-02-872830-0

Jim Williams (editor).
Analog Circuit Design: Art, Science and Presonalities.
1991 and 1994 by Butterworth-Heineman.
ISBN 0-750-69640-0
IF: Anecdotes, design techniques and curcuits from 22 authorities, including Philbrock, Pease, Franco etc.

Phil Winsor and Gene DeLisa
Computer music in C
1991 by Tab Books
ISBN 0-8306-3637-4

Yamaha Sound Reinforcement Handbook
19xx by ??

Paul Youngblood
Midi guitar and synthesis: the basics of guitar synthesis
1989 by H. Leonard Publishing
ISBN 0-88188-886-9


Alexander Publishing
A-R Editions
Bantan Books
Bernard Babani Books
Cambridge University Press
Focal Press
Hayden Books
Hieneman Newes
Krieger Publishing Company
Hal Leonard Books
McGraw-Hill Publishing Company
Microsoft Press
Miller Freeman Books
MIT Press
M&T Books
Oxford University Press (UK)
Prentice Hall
Howard W. Sams
John Wiley & Sons
Schirmer Books
Springer Verlag

Publisher resources

Publishers's Catalogues Home Page
The World Wide Web Virtual Library: Publishers
WWWiz Magazine Book Resources


Magnus Danielson <cfmd at bredband dot net>