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Dance Music Manual: A "how to" for making electronic music in any style


ectogemia
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Shameless (but totally unaffiliated!) plug:

So I picked up this book a few months ago, and I've just begun to read it. It's called Dance Music Manual by Rick Snoman.

A lot of neophytes to the e-music scene, like myself, find the titanic learning curve to be immensely discouraging, stifling, and depressing. We pine for some consolidated "how to" guide for beginning and understanding the technical concepts behind electronic music. zircon and others have written excellent, but brief, starter guides. What if you want to really grasp how all those LFOs and VSTs and SFs and 3OSs and HMOs and AIDS work?

Rick Snoman, a jolly, happy soul, has answered our wishes and written a guide that covers all aspects of producing an electronic song -- not just dance music, as the title indicates. And for only $13? Solid buy.

For anyone like me new to the scene, or even some experienced folk who would like to understand the ins and outs of the theory behind how it all works and the skeletons beneath several different styles, this is a fantastic resource.

I would recommend that anyone in need of a tutorial go to the amazon link above and click the "look inside" button on the cover image and take a look at the table of contents to see if it has what you're looking for. The book treats each subject in detail (except the spectacularly crappy music theory chapter) and should leave anyone with a "teence" or "smidgin'" of reading comprehension a bit more capable than they were before.

Hope this helps some of you looking for a more consolidated reference resource.

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Yes, it has sections for trance, hip-hop, trip-hop, chillout/ambient, drum 'n' bass, and a few others that aren't coming to mind.

Each section has an interesting history of how the genre came to be, how it developed, and where it is as of 2008. In addition, he explains common motifs found in the genres like effects, instruments, melodic and percussive patterns and techniques, etc. It's quite comprehensive and is helping to solve my problem of having all the music in my head but being totally unable to reproduce it in the sequencer. Of course, to really master that, you need a lot of practice, but how can you practice when you hardly know what to do? That's where this book comes in.

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In my cart. :P

That's exactly my issue. I have great work ethic, but I don't know where to even start. And don't get me started on having a sick tune trapped in your head because you can't figure out how to make it in your program. Sometimes I sing or hum those into a voice recorder, so i can come back to them later when I do know enough. Anyway, let's see what this book can do for me.

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Yeah, I hope it helps. I'm writing a Mega Man-sounding sort of hypermelodic song right now that has a sweet lead... but for whatever the hell reason, nothing is in tune with the lead, and it's not out of tune by semitones, so I can't easily just transpose things. :banghead:

Maybe Mr. Snoman has a solution!!!

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Seems like a good read and worth the money. How much does it deal with the specific sound designs and sample choices of the different genres, and how does it deal with the mixing and mastering side of things?

It has 50+ pages dedicated to mixing and mastering. It also has a fairly thorough treatment of common instruments, samples, and loops with lists of recommended listening to prove his points.

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How about the stuff on dnb, how much does it deal with what qualities to look for in samples and how what kind of combinations work better? Since most of what I'm doing these days end up more or less in dnb territory, I might as well pick up something that'll teach me to do it RIGHT.

Probably gonna order it regardless.

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How about the stuff on dnb, how much does it deal with what qualities to look for in samples and how what kind of combinations work better? Since most of what I'm doing these days end up more or less in dnb territory, I might as well pick up something that'll teach me to do it RIGHT.

Probably gonna order it regardless.

Actually, quite a lot. It has instructions on how to create your own snare and bass and kick and also how to sample them and select for maybe only one drum element out of a whole sampled loop. It goes on to talk about typical chord progressions, sound effects, and arrangement patterns as well.

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Sounds like a very interesting book.I should look it up. However, being taught how to do electronic music from a book might prevent you from figuring out your own style / sound. Usually somebody tries to emulate a style and ends up doing something very different because of equipment / knowledge discrepancies.

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However, being taught how to do electronic music from a book might prevent you from figuring out your own style / sound.

Only if you slavishly follow the rules ;).

I personally think the book is actually not as bad as the thousands of people asking "lol guys how do i make stuff sound like daft punk/justice/deadmau5".

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Sounds like a very interesting book.I should look it up. However, being taught how to do electronic music from a book might prevent you from figuring out your own style / sound. Usually somebody tries to emulate a style and ends up doing something very different because of equipment / knowledge discrepancies.

I think it's more beneficial to know how to emulate a style, and then tweak everything to make it something different, rather than to create something accidentally and have the foresight to realise that it is in fact different (and good).

You can't know that you're different unless you know what you're different from.

(And yes I ordered this book too and it's in the mail).

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There is nothing wrong with emulating a style, and it's a fantastic way to figure out your tools, as long as you get there your own way. If you use your ears, your differences will be part of what makes your spin on the model you chose, unique.

If you spend all your time trying to re-create the specifics of another person's work-flow and hardware setup it can cause problems, mainly you will be making a poor copy of somebody else's aesthetic.

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Stop telling ppl to not learn from others. :P

Uhuh. I don't think E-Bison said anything like that.

The question isn't if you should use the information available, it's all about how you use it.

Slavishly sticking to a map made by someone else when starting out on a musical journey bears the danger of, well, very boring results.

The driver's license metaphor is soo bad, seriously. Making music probably won't get you killed.

If i could crash into a tree without getting hurt i'd do it all the fucking time. Something interesting might come out of it.

To sum things up with another crappy metaphor, use the knowledge available but don't be afraid to steer away from the road. and crash into trees. lots of them.

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Sounds like a very interesting book.I should look it up. However, being taught how to do electronic music from a book might prevent you from figuring out your own style / sound. Usually somebody tries to emulate a style and ends up doing something very different because of equipment / knowledge discrepancies.

In response to the last 10 posts or so I have only this to say: Yes.

And this:

I don't recommend that anyone buy this book, read it, and proclaim themselves Earl of Musicton. That's certainly not my plan. Also, I think the title is awful and it misconstrues this book's shining feature: its survey of electronic music theory and how you start with some MIDI signal that gets shaped into something you want (not necessarily something you're emulating) for your purposes.

Having gotten through a good chunk of the first part of the book, the electronic music theory part, I can say that I've learned a TON, and it was ALL without emulation or listening to anyone else's music. I now know what pretty much all the knobs do IN DETAIL on all the effects in FL studio. For example, I now know that not just "turn up dis knob make sound go tweEEEeeT!!" but that the Q/resonance amplifies the frequencies near the cutoff frequency of a filter. Another cool bonus: I can make sweet-ass synths now with Synth1, 3xosc, and even the almightmy behemoth, Sytrus (!!?), all from scratch. The author goes into a lot of detail regarding common (and uncommon) parameters seen all over DAWs.

The book is structured such that by the time you choose/choose not to read the second part, the stylistic analyses, you should have a strong understanding of the fundamentals of synthesis and electronic music. This way, there will be few "knowledge discrepancies" that will keep people from falling short of emulating a style, should they so choose, or realizing their own.

Again, the title is completely misrepresentative of what the book really is, so I think. If I had to give it a more accurate title, I'd call it "Introduction to MIDI, Synthesis, and Production with Stylistic Applications" or something along those lines.

I don't mean to sound like a dick at all, I just thought I should make it clearer exactly what people are looking at on that there Amazon link in light of what you said.

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I've only flipped through this book so far but as Ectogemia has said, this isn't really a manual... it's definitely not a step-by-step guide on how to crank out a dance track. The Programming Theory chapter is extremely rich and presents a lot of general methodologies. So it brings up things like, "Why would you want to use presets", "what part of the notes to concentrate on when designing your own sounds", "when to use stereo" and stuff. The actual dance music section starts with an overview of the history of house and its influences before going down into the elements of the genre.

The section on pads first starts with, "Why do you want pads?" and then goes into different types of pads, describing their construction using the terminology that was introduced in the first chapter on synthesis. The same treatment is given to making synthesized drums and other instruments.

So far it's doing a good job applying words to concepts previously I had to describe by, "That up-down-soundy thing". I need to actually sit down and read it in detail.

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Yay, Arcana has seen the light! :nicework:

The more I read, the more excited I get about it. I've always thought becoming in fluent in audio-ese would be years in the making, but this is expediting the process soooooo much.

I'd like to see what other people who have bought it think about it.

I have no idea what Ricky Snoman was thinking when he named it Dance Music Manual.

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