I started with music about 4 years ago and then took it more seriously. I started to learn music theory, I play guitar and started reading some books about sound synthesis, different tutorials, etc.

I would love to make my own songs but the problem is that I have no experience. I know how to use a DAW , VST, VSTi and I don't have problems with the music being disharmonic.

My problem is that I don't know much about synthesis, how to design sounds that I want or recreate sounds that I know from other songs. My music is simply boring. I want to understand the theory behind music and sound design but I can't find any books that cover these things...

  • Where do I learn what do I need to make a good song ?
  • Where do I learn to make catchy, interesting melodies ?
  • Are there any good books, tutorials or anything to teach me how to understand music, recreate sounds, create a sound that I imagined, really understand what I'm doing.

The problem with books and tutorials is that I get a book that is too complex, and I don't like tutorials because I feel that it only teaches me to do one thing and not to understand what I'm doing ( not all tutorials, some are really helpfull )

Could anyone recommend me some books or websites?

2 Answers 2


Hi Akachi, welcome to SSD!

This site is more focused on film, computer game and theatre sound design, rather than the 'synth programming' type of sound design. However, there are many in this great community who also dabble in music, and use synths regularly in their work, so you should hopefully still get some good answers!

I myself would point you straight to Youtube. There are plenty of videos on there that can help you get going in creating your own synth patches from scratch. Just search for a plugin of your choice followed by the word "tutorial" and tonnes of stuff will pop up.

Here's a good one for Absynth to get you started

I personally also use the IDM Forums which has a "Music Production Tutorials" section, full of a collection of links tips people have posted. It's aimed at electronic music, but the principles work for many genres.

IDM Forums


Skarik's tips are good, but I would like to add:

Practice and play with your instruments and write music (even short compositions or loops). In synths practice means really exhausting the synth's features so you know what it's composed of and form a sense of its "tonal range", so to speak. While other resources may give you tips about different things that exist in music or describe how a certain technique works, it may or may not help you write your own music and it may or may not help you make something that satisfies you. That I believe is a combination of having the experience to think forward ("I'd like this sound to be like this, so to do it I need to do this or try this.", "This beat sounds a bit too dull/uninteresting, to make it more interesting I could try this." etc.), knowing the tools that you have and having written music and done sounds before.

That's just how I know a synth at least. Dial through the synth's waveform options and all other features and then form a sense of what it sounds like or what sounds it's suitable for and then you'll always know a starting point or a few starting points, when it comes to making a synth sound. Also, studying presets in synths is a great way to see how someone else made a synth sound.

If you really want literature, then this is a pretty interesting book: http://www.synthesizer-cookbook.com/. As is the Computer Music Tutorial by C. Roads.

And this is a good introductory video series, although it doesn't go to much depth into how many ways you really have for shaping a sound (e.g. by adding effects, using a vocoder etc.): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=atvtBE6t48M

Also, maybe a bit of a warning:

how to understand music, recreate sounds, create a sound that I imagined, really understand what I'm doing.

Don't get into the mindset of thinking that making music or sounds have certain formal rules or that there's some underlying theory or grammar that explains everything or even something, because as an art it has none of that (apart from e.g. basic music theory that explains notes, scales, chords and rhythm). Fitting into a certain style might include certain "characteristics" that you need to fill in to fit into that style and there might be some good "rules of thumbs", but they are not fixed rules and there might not be words to describe them, nor an actual need to specify them. Many computer musicians and sound producers simply do what sounds right to them and they use the tools as they like (or what they're made for).

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