- Paperback: 538 pages
- Publisher: Focal Press; 2 edition (November 19, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0240521072
- ISBN-13: 978-0240521077
- Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 7.4 x 1.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.5 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (180 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #535,477 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Dance Music Manual: Tools, Toys, and Techniques 2nd Edition
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"In short, Snoman knows what he's talking about." - Music Tech
"An exceptionally well-written and researched book... All in all it adds up to quite a package, which deserves a place on any aspiring dance music producer's desk." - Music Tech
From the Back Cover
Whatever your level of experience, the Dance Music Manual is packed with sound advice, techniques and practical examples to help you achieve professional results. Written by a professional producer and remixer, this book offers a comprehensive approach to music production, including knowledge of the tools, equipment and different dance genres. Get more advice and resources from the books official website, www.dancemusicproduction.com.
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Top Customer Reviews
First off, I can't say enough good things about the catalog of the publisher, Focal Press. It would be difficult to find another publisher that provides the breadth and depth of resources and subjects Focal does; I've devoured many of their titles, and not one has let me down. Many help guide publishers fill out their catalogs with shallow or vague treatments about the same subjects. Not Focal. They have a knack for issuing books that cut right to the chase.
Now for "Dance Music Manual" -- I readily applaud the author for what he does well. A major reason behind my purchase of this book was to find answers to my continual confusion about the differences between the 1000s of genres, sub-genres, and sub-sub-genres of dance music. In our media-drenched age, it seems that it takes merely 4 or 5 people who agree on a microscopic difference in a song or two to splinter off and recast them as a new dance music form. If a record store existed to stock every one of these "styles", the bins would contain more dividers than records.
Thankfully, Snoman confirms my suspicion by stating more than once that honestly, differences between the dozens of genres of House music are so small as to be irrelevant. That's not to say that the subdivisions aren't necessarily valid, but simply that I shouldn't spend much energy worrying about playing a French-Hardcore-Techno-Trance-House track in a set of Appalachian-Ragga-Funk-Step-Garage-House music. Thanks for that, sir.
While the theory section is necessary for this book to live up to its purpose, I agree with some other reviewers that Snoman does tend to assume too much in some of his explanations. In other words, HE certainly knows what he means on these occasions, but something is lost in translation to the reader. It's not a matter of being too technical; the fault is in the clarity of the writing. To put it plainly, there were several moments when reading this section during which I would have loved to have the author at my shoulder for a quick explanation of what he meant to say.
Finally, there is the overall quality of the writing, and certainly the editing. I've never come across a Focal Press book that had any problems in this area, until now. The sheer number of errors in syntax, punctuation, and misuse of words makes this book a real struggle at times. It's worth slogging through, no doubt. However, as has been said in other reviews, multiple errors on a single page is TYPICAL (NOT 'atypical', as Snoman would insist). The overall impression I get from this aspect of "Dance Music Manual" is that it's as if the book was written in English, run through a computer translation program into Hungarian, and then re-translated into English again.
I want to make clear that this won't keep me from referring to this book as a valuable resource. But I cannot dismiss this aspect of the writing, either. Mr. Snoman's chosen profession is not authoring crisp, flowing prose; it is that of producer/musician/remixer and so on. In such a case, the responsibility for keeping the copy clean, understandable, and, well, correct, falls on the book's editors. In this instance, they have failed. I hope that this critical flaw won't turn potential readers away in great numbers, but I wouldn't be surprised if that were the case.
A quote from the Acknowledgements:
"I'd particularly like to thank...Lars Pettersson for his tireless efforts in correcting my grammar"
I looked this up because I had to know. I'm not proud that my first thought was to question whether or not English is Lars Pettersson's first language. If it is not, that would explain quite a bit about this book. Regardless, It's quite amazing that this book got to the printer in its present form, which makes me wonder how many Focal Press folks actually read it. Let's hope for a more enjoyable read in the 4th edition.
Four stars means "I Like It", according to the ratings system in this forum, and that rating is accurate. It's too bad that the editing is so glaringly lacking, because I believe Mr. Sloman's star rating score would improve dramatically with a first-page rewrite/edit, and in every other judgement, deservedly so. I would think that this would result in more book sales, and that's always a good thing.
For this 3rd edition, Snoman outdid himself, and this book is now better than ever. There are completely new chapters, and many previous chapters have been updated to reflect the latest music trends and technologies.
The fundamentals are all still there, and I could spend hours studying some chapters of this book in front of my computer. His chapters on compressors, processors, effects, mixing structure, kicks and percussion, and sound design practice are very valuable.
But there are some fundamental flaws with this third edition that need to be corrected in the next edition. These flaws should not stop a serious student of electronic dance music from buying and reading this book repeatedly. But they should be noted.
First, the book is very poorly edited and full of typos and grammar mistakes - roughly 2 - 3 mistakes per page. Second, Snoman's style is at times a bit too casual in a very colloquial British manner, and assumes a bit too much background knowledge on his readers' part. I often found myself struggling to follow what he was saying. For example, I just randomly opened up to a page discussing how to program the lead in a song and Snoman writes "a common approach... is to construct a harmonically rich sound through saw, square, triangle and noise waveforms along with ... the unison feature... Once a harmonically rich voice is created, it can then be thinned... with the filters or EQ and modulated with the envelopes and LFOs." OK, I am perfectly capable of throwing together a couple of oscillators on my synth, and understand perfectly well what it means to apply a filter or EQ or an envelope of some kind and LFO to sound waves generated by the oscillators. But seriously, after reading this, I am no closer to understanding how these components come together to form a properly programmed lead. I mean seriously, how many contemporary synth tracks DO NOT use some combination of saw, square, triangle and noise oscillators passed through audio effects like filters and EQ and modulated by envelopes and LFOs? To some extent the burden is on my to catch up with Snoman - But if I were already at the level where reading these sentences I instantly knew exactly what Snoman meant to say and could fire up my favorite subtractive synthesizer and bust out a charming, perfectly programmed lead sound, then what would be the point of reading the book. I am the student, he is the teacher. But sometimes Snoman seems to forget that his audience is a bunch of newbies who need hand holding from time to time and seems more interested in having a casual chit chat with his peers about their craft. A third and final problem - which really isn't that big of a deal - is that Snoman's chapters discussing specific genres seem to miss the mark from time to time. Or at least, my experience and impression of certain genres is quite different from Snoman's. The weakest discussion is probably the "Ambient/chill out" chapter. Part of the problem is a problem of genre labels themselves. Snoman is sensitive to the fact that the minute you make a generalization about a genre, it is based on your subjective impression of what falls under the label. A lot of electronic music falls through the cracks, doesn't conform to any of the generalizations Snoman makes about any of the genres described in the book, etc. But I do not consider the genre discussion chapters to be the core strength of Snoman's book. The beauty of the book is really the first 19 chapters of fundamentals. So even if your particular perception of the distinguishing features of a particular style is different from Snoman's it is not a big deal.
Over all, this is and has been for years a very important and valuable book for anyone interested in getting beyond the "beginner" stage in producing electronic dance music - an absolute must read! And I have not purchased Snoman's video tutorials that are built around this book, but they may be the missing link that would make this book a 5 star product. But this book still has some room for improvement for the 4th edition.