A good friend of mine recently sent me a link to “Music: a Mathematical Offering” by Dave Benson. I’ve only briefly skimmed the text. However, I can already assure you this free online book is full of useful information. It does veer into the technical, as it is packed with equations that may seem a bit alien to some. Don’t let this dissuade you, as there is plenty of knowledge for people of all backgrounds.
The PDF is 524 pages long, making printing a not-so-viable option. For those who wish to read a hard copy, you can purchase the book from Amazon.
Here is a list of chapters in the online version:
1. Waves and harmonics
2. Fourier theory
3. A mathematician’s guide to the orchestra
4. Consonance and dissonance
5. Scales and temperaments: the fivefold way
6. More scales and temperaments
7. Digital music
9. Symmetry in music
I would also like to point out that my synthesizer of choice, Csound, is covered.
Depends. For myself, the book was absolutely worth it. My background is mostly digital. The text introduced me to very rudimentary skills required to build these instruments. Skills such as: soldering, quasi-electronics, drilling, painting, etc… If you can already do these things, even on a basic level, you might not get much from these chapters.
Where this book truly excels is Ghazala’s personal insight and experience. His writing is candid, humorous at times, and allows the reader to get a glimpse of how his thought process works. In many ways, this book is more than just a DIY guide. It is also about composing through the process of electronic experimentation.
I would be in a state of sin if I didn’t mention early-on the internationally recognized “father of circuit-bending,” Reed Ghazala.
Ghazala’s website, www.anti-theory.com, is a haven for the odd and strange in the electronic arts. Besides Circuit-Bending, Ghazala has also involved himself with the visual arts. My favorite is his work with polaroids. Be sure to read up on the man himself.