67 of 68 people found the following review helpful
on December 15, 2008
I own the first edition and used it so much the book literally fell apart, partly due to cheap binding but mostly the repetitive flipping back and forth to dozens of bookmarked pages with useful technical info. I'm not a musician but as a computer programmer for 20+ years I have read more books of a technical nature than the law should allow, and on that basis I can honestly say this is the best tech book I have ever read. It's been a fantastic introduction to electronic music production, with clear enough explanations of concepts that I never felt intimidated or "talked down to" but more than enough in-depth material that I could take my newfound obsession with music production just as far as I wanted. The included CD was particularly helpful, with a full track in each of the genres covered by the book, with the author breaking in with at least 20 minutes of narrative on each, explaining the tools and methods used in production of the track. This was crucial to me because I don't think it's possible to learn music by simply reading words. Being able to listen to "before" and "after" versions of a compressed kick loop gelled perfectly with the compression tips and tricks discussed in the book.
33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on March 16, 2009
First off, the title of this book is a little (okay, a lot) misleading. From the title, you would think it would be a light-hearted, casual intro to dance music. This is not the case. This book is like a massive compendium of every single concept you would ever want to know about dance music, or anything like unto it. The first pages are all about sculpting sounds from waveforms, and it's not easy reading! As a matter of fact, that's my only criticism of this book - so much of it was over my head. But what the author lacks in his ability to explain concepts to complete newbie/morons (like me), he more than makes up for with his vast amount of knowledge, and the breadth of the subjects in the book. This really is EVERYTHING you could ever want to know about dance music - how audio works, how synth programming works, dance music trends, effects, etc.
And the author doesn't just tell you the "how", he tells you the "why". It's a book for both artists and techies alike, which is a hard line to straddle. I really have enjoyed this book, and will no doubt read it again as soon as I'm done. It's opened my eyes to soooooo much!!
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on November 10, 2008
Rick Snoman is a Dance music GOD! This book is a must must have for anyone who intends to write/remix/compose/produce dance music in any capacity. It is written generally with a novice in mind but those of us with more experience will benefit from having it as a reference. It offers an in-depth look into the major genres of dance music and covers everything from how to tweak the knobs of your synth to drum machine programming and musical analysis all the way to remixing, sampling, mastering and promotion! It is a very wide scope of information and it covers it all very well and very informatively. Anyone from beginner to pro can definitely benefit from buying this book. IF YOU ASPIRE TO WRITE DANCE MUSIC DO NOT WAIT; BUY THIS BOOK! It is like the textbook for dance music.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on January 21, 2013
Short answer: If you want to become a better dance music artist, and/or producer, and feel you need to read a book to get a better grasp of everything involved, buy THIS book.
End of story.
Longer answer: I have been an "electronic composer" for the last 15 years, but my tracks always lacked that polish and groove that really drives EDM and DJ sets, or pumps the laid back groves of Hip Hop, so I was shopping around for books that dealt with these subjects as well as the technical side of things such as programming synth patches, engineering, arrangement etc. and this book hits the mark every step of the way, even diving into music theory, mixing, mastering, and promotion - all of it starting with "sound theory".
Now, after having read through a good portion of both books, I am very happy with my purchase and blown away at how much useful information is now in my hands. These books are worth at least double, maybe even triple what they are selling for. Some of the information is invaluable - at least to me.
The two editions are slightly different, as the first goes into a good deal of hardware and software, where the second edition drops this section, but goes into more depth on other topics such as synth programming, so if you want it all, get both editions, however either edition stands solidly on it's own.
Having said that, the second edition is far more relevant to 2013 than the first edition, so if you have to pick one, get this one. (The second edition).
This book is written in a style that any beginner will be able to pick up, but Rick doesn't assume you are an idiot, nor does he water down any subject like a lot of "intro" books do without imparting any practical knowledge. In fact, this book is just the opposite. It's like Rick wrote a small book on each subject and then distilled them down to only the most important and essential concepts and then made each a chapter of this book. Every section is cram packed with useful information, and the knowledge gets both specific and practical. The techniques get a thorough treatment, and everything is explained within the context of the genres of dance music being discussed. This book is obviously written by a man who knows exactly what he is talking about, without ever being condescending or getting too technical to be useful. I have learned a TON in the last two weeks. More than I have learned in the last 2 years. For example, today I learned the structure of a dance music track, section by section, (and how it differs from a typical radio arrangement). Also: You know that effect where an EDM artist changes sounds rapidly during a riff to make a really complex sounding riff (e.g Skrillex or David Guetta...)? It's called "hocketing" and it is accomplished by duplicating a riff to multiple instrument tracks and then subtracting notes from each track. Maybe you knew that, but I didn't. Now I do.
Want to know about sound cards? Covered. How to program a kick drum, bass, or lead? Covered. Cabling? Covered. Music theory? Covered. Hip Hop musical structure? Covered. Trance? Covered. Breakdowns of the TR909 and the TR808 drum machines? Covered. Pick something, and it's probably in here.
It is truly impressive (and a gift) that Rick tried to tackle so many subjects related to Dance Music and cram it all into 1 book, and for the most part he does it with flying colors. He even gave the most clear explanation of music theory I have ever read, cramming it all into 1 chapter. A very detailed chapter!
And, while this book doesn't cover some specifics of live performance or mixing on headphones, it absolutely covers gear setups from cables to mixers to audio units as well as in depth explanations about mixing and mastering which more than cover the needed skills.
However, as valuable as all the information is, this book is still, at it's heart, a starting platform. This book is squarely aimed at the reader who wants to be the next great EDM, Hip Hop artist or producer, but maybe doesn't have the knowledge nor the skills to get there. This book provides a STRONG, holistic foundation of knowledge to build upon, is a reference book that will get used and worn out and is, at times, an inspirational piece. This book won't write music for you, nor replace a lot of hard work, nor make you a star, but if you want to do all those things, this book will give you a GIANT push in the right direction and provide an entire framework to work with in accomplishing those goals.
Yes, there are other books out there that go into each subject Rick covers in "The Dance Music Manual", but really, if you had to buy one and only one book on this subject, this is the book you need.
One final note: If you already produce and/or gig for a living, perhaps you won't get much out of this book as a beginner, but even experienced professionals MAY be able to glean some knowledge from this book that they didn't have before. For example, if you are a great producer, but don't know much about promotion, this book is worth checking out.
So, is Rick Snowman an expert on dance music production?
Yeah! In fact, he wrote the book on it.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 27, 2009
This is a very good book for the beginner. There is a lot of "bread and butter" information in this book.
There is a lot of detailed information on creating synthesizer patches and sounds. The section on mixing and effects is very good.
Music theory really requires it's own book(s) but the section in this book is a good introduction.
The book gives you good starting points for the production of different genres of electronic music.
If you are just starting to make music digitally I recommend this book. It won't be the last book on music you ever buy (if you like learning from books) but it is a very good introduction to the many aspects of making electronic music.
It's worth the money.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 23, 2008
As you know, first edition of the book was a great success. You can read all those great reviews here, on Amazon. Second edition is even better, because the author updated the material. The book is huge first of all. A lot of material is in there, so you'll keep this book as a reference for months to come. What I especially liked about this book was that author analyzed every dance music genre with every detail possible. You actually realize that dance music is as complicated to produce as any other style. What I realized was that the author not only has a passion for music, but also a passion for writing and research. This is the best book to have in your library!!!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 22, 2009
The Dance Music Manual is my bible. One of the greatest if not the greatest resource book I've ever read. From cover to cover it details all the important aspects of Dance Music from Ambient to Trance to UK Garage. In it's hollowed pages reside: programming theory, mixing boards and patching overview, recording of live instruments, music theory, an overview of popular genres, mixing, mastering, publishing, and promotion. Appendixes at the end of the book cover issues such as MIDI patching, and tempo delay time charts. It's a perfect "go to" resource for the modern electronic musician.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 12, 2012
This book is amazing for anyone who wants to produce dance music or any type of music.
BE MORE SPECIFIC next time.
In Chapter 2, it talks about side chaining. He tells us how to set it up and everything but doesn't specify WHICH compressor you lower the threshold on.
For example, the book says "Place the mix into one channel of a sequencer and drop the kick drum onto a second channel. Set up a compressor on the kick drum channel, use the kick as a side chain and feed the mix into the main compressor's inputs. Set the ratio 4:1, with a fast attack and release, and if the compressor features it, set it to Peak (or turn RMS off). Begin playback of both channels and slowly reduce the threshold; the entire mix will pump with every kick."
I use Ableton Live 8 Suite and this is what I did. I had the Drum Loop on one Audio Track and the Pad on another Audio Track. I put a compressor on both the Drum Loop and the Pad. Then I Side Chained the Pad's compressor to the Drum Loop compressors inputs. I started to reduce the threshold on the Drum Loop's compressor and I was thinking, "why the hell isn't my loop pumping with every kick?" then I realized that he wasn't talking about the kick drum's compressor but the PAD'S (or melodies) COMPRESSOR! So I reduced the threshold on the Pad's compressor and finally moved onto the next concept!
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on November 25, 2010
The book is replete with information that will prove useful not only to dance musicians, but to all computer musicians. In addition, it is well laid out and nicely bound, with attractive coverwork. Unfortunately, however, there has clearly been zero copy-editing done, and some form of English mistake is made every other paragraph or so. For those of us who care about this sort of thing, the book frequently makes for awkward reading.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 24, 2012
Seriously, you can get almost all of this information elsewhere. it's the digital age after all. The true strength of this book is that it collects almost every subject that an aspiring or mid-level electronic composer could need, and presents it in a clear, concise way.
There are certainly some parts that come off as dated, and, sure, there are grammar issues throughout that lend a sort of amateurish air to the proceedings, but if what a person is looking for is a reference work that describes processes and reasons for those processes to someone who is relatively new to the genre, this is the best thing out there that I've seen.
The author's love for the subject is palpable, and this comes across in the subjects that re covered, from programming theory to synthesis, to genre characteristics.
If the editing was bumped up a notch, I would give this a five-star rating because it really does hit all of the necessary points in a solid, respectable fashion.