NoteForge Logo



denotes books available in the NDSU Music Composition library.

Composition Texts

Alan Belkin. Musical Composition: Craft and Art.

Reginald Smith Brindle. Musical Composition

Robert Carl. Music Composition in the 21st Century: A Practical Guide for the New Common Practice.

Vincent D’Indy. Course in Musical Composition, vol. 1.

Leon Dallin. Techniques of Twentieth Century Composition.

Dennis DeSantis. Making Music: 74 Creative Strategies for Electronic Music Producers.

Johann Joseph Fux. The Study of Counterpoint/Gradus Ad Parnassum.

Paul Hindemith, Craft of Musical Composition, Books 1-3

Jonathan Middleton. Essentials for Composers–Creative Process by Design.

Vincent Persichetti. Twentieth Century Harmony.

Arnold Schoenberg. Fundamentals of Musical Composition.

Jorge Variego. Composing with Constraints.

Charles Wuorinen. Simple Composition.

The Business of Composing

Richard Bellis. The Emerging Film Composer.

Virgil Moorefield. The Producer as Composer. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2010. †

Composing for Media

Winifred Phillips. A Composer's Guide to Game Music. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2014. †

Jeff Rona. The Reel World: Scoring for Pictures, Television, and Video Games, 3rd ed. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2022. †

Improvisatory and Aleatoric Music, Tunings

Kyle Gann. The Arithmetic of Listening: Tuning Theory & History for the Impractical Musician. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2019.

Pauline Oliveros. Deep Listening. †

R. Murray Schafer. The Soundscape. †


Samuel Adler. The Study of Orchestration, 4th Ed. † (3rd Ed. †)

Alfred Blatter. Instrumentation and Orchestration.

Kent Kennan and Donald Grantham. The Technique of Orchestration.

Walter Piston. Orchestration.

Gardner Read. Compendium of Modern Instrumental Techniques.

Gardner Read. Modern Rhythmic Notation.

Gardner Read. Pictographic Score Notation: A Compendium.

Gardner Read. Style and Orchestration.

Charles-Marie Widor. Manual of Practical Instrumentation.

Historical Orchestration Texts:

Hector Berlioz and Richard Strauss: Treatise on Instrumentation.

Adam Carse. The History of Orchestration. †x3

Adam Carse. Musical Wind Instruments.

Cecil Forsyth. Choral Orchestration.

Cecil Forsyth. Orchestration.

Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov. Principles of Orchestration.

Gardner Read. Thesaurus of Orchestral Devices. †

Curt Sachs. The History of Musical Instruments.

Instrument-specific Books


Robert Dick, The Other Flute.

Robert Dick, Tone Development through Extended Techniques.

Brandy Hudelson, The Art of Beatboxing.


Libby Van Cleve, Oboe Unbound.


Ronald L. Caravan, Preliminary Exercises & Etudes in Contemporary Techniques for Clarinet

Phillip Rehfeldt, New Directions for Clarinet.


Marcus Weiss, Techniques of Saxophone Playing.




Douglas Hill, Extended Techniques for the Horn. †


Thomas Stevens, Contemporary Trumpet Studies.








Samuel Z. Solomon, How to Write for Percussion: A Comprehensive Guide to Percussion Composition.

Mick Berry & Jason Gianni, The Drummer's Bible.







Musicianship and Entrepreneurship

Angela Myles Beeching. Beyond Talent

Gerald Klickstein. The Musician’s Way

David Baskerville and Tim Baskerville. Music Business Handbook and Career Guide 12th Edition. (11th Ed. †)

David Cutler. The Savvy Musician

Mark Rabideau, Creating the Revolutionary Artist.


Elaine Gould. Behind Bars: The Definitive Guide to Music Notation. London: Faber Music, 2011. †

Elaine Gould. Behind Bars: General Conventions.& London: Faber Music, 2023. †

Steven Powell. Music Engraving Today, 2nd Ed. New York: Brichtmark Music, 2007. †

Gardner Read. Modern Rhythmic Notation. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1978. †

Gardner Read. Music Notation: A Manual of Modern Practice. New York: Taplinger Publishing Company, 1979. †

Howard Risatti. New Music Vocabulary. [Out of print and difficult to find, it lists a number of ways to notate various extended techniques] †

G. Schirmer/AMP: Manual of Style [The style manual from Schirmer, available as print-on-demand] †

Composer Autobiographies/Memoirs

John Adams. Hallelujah Junction.

John Luther Adams. Silences so Deep

Bruce Adolphe. Of Mozart, Parrots, and Cherry Blossoms in the Wind: A composer explores mysteries of the musical mind. New York: Limelight Editions, 1999. †

Bruce Adolphe. The Mind's Ear. †

Philip Glass. Words Without Music. †

Charles Ives. Essays before a Sonata. †

Alex Ross. The Rest is Noise. New York, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007 †

Electronic Music

Mark Ballora. Digital Audio and Acoustics for the Creative Arts.

Michael Clarke, Frederic Dufeu, and Peter Manning. Inside Computer Music. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020. †

Frederick Bianchi and V.J. Manzo, eds. Environmental Sound Artists in their own words. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016†

Leigh Landy. Understanding the Art of Sound Organization.

Curtis Roads. Composing Electronic Music. A New Aesthetic.

Creativity (and other misc.)

Eric Abrahamson and David H. Freedman. A Perfect Mess. New York: Back Bay Books, 2007. †

Dan Ariely. Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions. New York: Harper Perennial, 2010. †

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Creativity: The psychology of discovery and invention. New York: Harper Perennial, 2013. †

Daniel Coyle. The Talent Code. New York: Bantam, 2009. †

Angela Duckworth. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. New York: Scribner, 2016. †

David Epstein. Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World. New York: Riverhead Books, 2019. †

Howard Gardner. Creating Minds. New York: Basic Books, 2011. †

Adam Grant, Originals: How Non-Conformists Move The World. New York; Viking, 2016. †

Robert Jourdain. Music, The Brain, and Ecstasy: How Music Captures our Imagination. New York: Harper Perennial, 2002. †

Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony, Cass R. Sunstein. Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment. New York: Little, Brown Spark, 2021. †

Daniel Kahneman. Thinking, Fast and Slow. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011. †

Scott Barry Kaufman and Carolyn Gregoire. Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind. New York: TarcherPerigee, 2015. †

Stephen King. On Writing: A memoir of the craft. New York: Scribner, 2000. †

Anne Lamott. Bird By Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. New York: Anchor Books, 1994. †

John McPhee. Draft No. 4: On the Writing Process. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017. †

Read Montague. Why Choose this Book† How we make decisions. New York: Dutton, 2006 †

Adam Savage. Every Tool's A Hammer: Life is What You Make It. New York: Atria, 2020 †

Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein. Nudge: The Final Edition. New York: Penguin, 2021. †

Twyla Tharp. The Creative Habit. New York, Simon & Schuster, 2003. †

Paul Tough. How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character. Boston: Mariner Books, 2013. †

Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander. The Art of Possibility. New York: Penguin, 2000. †