Suggested reading



i’ve been enjoying this blog a lot over the past 6 months. mainly stuff about the environment, society, technology


Curtis Roads’s new book _Composing Electronic Music: A New Aesthetic_has been life changing for me.


Working on that new Roads book too. Super helpful to go back to reconsider basics, discover new little nooks and crannies of more advanced stuff, and just sort of soak up someone else’s way of thinking about sound.

I’m hoping the Computer Music Tutorial is eventually released with a new edition. I’ve heard it’s coming maybe late this year.


Remembered I’ve left a few chapters unread in Undercurrents. So reading them now. And at the same time a swedish book about vegetable seeds.


I tend to obsess over certain artists/designers/engineers at different times and am currently infatuated with everything about Jonáš Gruska

I sometimes see myself as a composer who has exchanged the standard five line staff with lines of code - writing algorithms is writing music to me.


this is important


daw tricks

mike gao talks a bit about clipping


@mike asked me for a recommendation how to start learning programming. I’m guessing that really means ‘learning programming for aleph/eurorack-modules’. In that case it’s a case of learning to write C code. I taught myself C years and years ago pretty much straight out of this book from almost no prior exposure to code (but enough free time to work through things properly):

In order to learn C programming basics and work through the examples end of each chapter in that book you also will need access to a C compiler & a text editor that’s suitable for working with plain text. gcc is kind of an obvious choice of compiler (should be free to download a version for whatever OS).

Then if you can get the basics down, including structs & pointers (all in the book) it should be possible to look at the source code for aleph/euro-modules, make some tiny change, recompile the code and see that change on the device. If you get that far, you’re already quite a long way towards learning to code!


Amazing ! Thanks you for this !





(Another) interesting/interactive essay by Jack Schaedler:


listened on the way to work and ended up here during my break…

How strictly do you separate improvising and composing?
I quit the improvised music scene (there are exceptions of course) or improvised music as a ‘music genre’ but improvisation is still my main methodology, in the studio (usually within a certain framework of processes) and in concert. My mind is not able to structure things in advance: I only take simple decisions about starting points and then work very intuitively, improvising, recording, and composing using the recorded improvisations as rough materials.

Many artists dream of a “magnum opus”. Do you have a vision of what yours would sound like?
I really don’t have one. And I don’t care for the idea of a “magnum opus”. As said before, every record or concerts is an experience, a small and personal one, for me and for the audience…


This is another great interview with Ielasi:

(actually the whole sound propositions series is worth checking out - excellent Mark Fell interview in there too)


yeah i read this one a couple months (and MFs)



Dense, but satisfying. I’ve barely started this book and it’s already unlocking some important understanding. One of those books that I feel may make me a better musician in time.

A Geometry of Music: Harmony and Counterpoint in the Extended Common Practice

Most listeners prefer tonal music to atonal music, but what exactly is the difference between them? In this groundbreaking work, author Dmitri Tymoczko identifies five basic musical features that jointly contribute to the sense of tonality, and shows how these features recur throughout the history of Western music. Tymoczko creates for the reader a new framework for thinking about music, one that emphasizes the commonalities among styles from Medieval polyphony to contemporary jazz.

A Geometry of Music provides an accessible introduction to Tymoczko’s revolutionary geometrical approach to music theory. The book shows how to construct simple diagrams representing the relationships among familiar chords and scales. This gives readers the tools to translate between the musical and visual realms, revealing surprising degrees of structure in otherwise hard-to-understand pieces.

Tymoczko uses these theoretical ideas to retell the history of Western music from the eleventh century to the present day. Arguing that traditional histories focus too narrowly on the “common practice” period from 1680-1850, he proposes instead that Western music comprises an extended common practice stretching from the late middle ages to the present. Using analysis to make his argument clear, he discusses a host of familiar pieces by Bach, Mozart, Chopin, Debussy, Stravinsky, Shostakovich, Miles Davis, Bill Evans, and others.

A Geometry of Music is accessible to a range of readers, from undergraduate music majors to scientists and mathematicians with an interest in music. Defining its terms along the way, it presupposes no special mathematical background and only a basic familiarity with Western music theory. The book also contains exercises designed to reinforce and extend readers’ understanding, along with a series of appendices that explore the technical details of this exciting new theory.


so refreshing


Is it quite mathsy? I was googling ‘maths and Bach’ the other day, this book seems like it might fit the bill.


Is it OK to recommend fiction? On holiday, I read Richard Powers’ Orfeo:

which is a novel slightly about biohacking, but really about a history of 20th century composition seen through the eyes of a single musician, who is at college in the US in the 60s - ends up seeing Cage’s Musicircus in 1967 - and is constantly trying to work out where he fits into music.

I found it wonderful - perhaps it’s overwritten, perhaps it’s a tad clinical - but it overflows in places.

Music, he’ll tell anyone who asks over the next fifty years, doesn’t mean things. It is things. And for all those years, in fifty-four pieces from fragments for solo flute and tape to full orchestra and five-part chorus, his music will circle around the same vivid gesture: a forward, stumbling surge that wavers, sometimes in a single measure, between the key of hope and the atonal slash of nothingness.

Also: the orchestration of Els’ pieces always feels like a lovely running joke; he has an idea, and it’s about to be a thing… and then he orchestrates it for whatever combination fits the era he’s in.

Also, a long sequence about the history - and origins - of Messaien’s Quartet Pour La Fin Du Temps nearly made me cry. Tears are an easy emotion, and not necessarily a sign of greatness, but god, that section alone is worth the price of admission.