Reading List for Composers

In a similar vein to yesterday’s post, here is a reading list for composers. Once again, there are several omissions for the sake of manageability. But if an undergraduate student read all of these books and articles during his/her course of study, they would be in good shape for grad school entrance exams. (Forgive the inclusion of my Shapey article. This semester I’m using several of his pieces in score study sessions with students).

Suggested Reading

Adams, John Luther. Winter Music: Composing the North. Middletown, CT:

Wesleyan University Press, 2004.

Babbitt, Milton. Ed. by Stephen Dembski and Joseph Straus.

Words About Music. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1987.

Blatter, Albert. Instrumentation and Orchestration. New York: Schirmer Books, 1997.

Brant, Henry. Textures and Timbres: an Orchestrator’s Handbook. New York:

Carl Fischer, 2009.

Cage, John. Silence. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1966.

Carey, Christian. “Mother Lode Issues: Shapey’s Worksheet and the Late Music.”

Perspectives of New Music vol. 47 no.2 (2009): 249-265.

Carter, Elliott. Ed. by Nicholas Hopkins and John F. Link. Harmony Book.

New York: Carl Fischer, 2002.

Cox, Christopher and Daniel Warner. Audio Culture. New York:

Continuum, 2004.

Duckworth, William. Talking Music. New York: Schirmer Books, 1995.

Friedmann, Michael L. Ear Training for Twentieth-century Music. New Haven:

Yale University Press, 1990.

Hindemith, Paul. Elementary Training for Musicians. New York:

Associated Music, 1949.

Morris, Robert. “Compositional Tutorial.” (personal website, 2010):

Morris, Robert. “Compositional Spaces and Other Territories.”

Perspectives of New Music , Vol. 33, No. 1/2 (1995): 328-358.

Partch, Harry. Genesis of a Music. Boston: Da Capo (enlarged edition), 1979.

Schubert, Peter. Modal Counterpoint Renaissance Style. New York:

Oxford University Press (2nd Ed.), 2007.

Schubert, Peter and Christoph Neidhöfer. Baroque Counterpoint.

Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2005.

Schwartz, Elliott and Barney Childs with Ed. Jim Fox. Contemporary Composers

On Contemporary Music. New York: Da Capo Press, 1998.

Shapey, Ralph. A Basic Course in Music Composition. King of Prussia, PA:

Theodore Presser, 2001.

Slonimksy, Nicolas. Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns. New York:

Amsco Publications, 1986.

Straus, Joseph N. An Introduction to Post-tonal Theory. Upper Saddle River, NJ:

Prentice Hall (3rd Ed.), 2004.

Wuorinen, Charles. Simple Composition. New York: Longman, 1979.

One thought on “Reading List for Composers

  1. No “Poetics of Music” by Stravinsky? Copland’s “Music & Imagination”? The Cage-Boulez Correspondences? The Norton Lectures of Bernstein or Berio?
    I get that these sorts of lists are highly (read: “HIGHLY” :-) subjective, but omitting the Poetics alone has my eyebrows raised to the middle of my forehead. Oh, well — one person’s “must read!” or “must hear!!” is another’s “meh.” That’s life.

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