Today I (largely) finished The Dance Music Manual, a big textbook on how electronic dance music is produced, from math and physics through machinery and software to psychoacoustics, aesthetics, and culture:
Although both these genres are still produced and played in clubs to this day, the increased popularity of 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine (MDMA or “E”) amongst clubbers inevitably resulted in new forms of trance being developed. Since this pharmaceutical stimulates serotonin levels in the brain, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to place clubbers into states of trance with tribal rhythms, and instead the melodies became more and more exotic, slowly taking precedence over every other element in the mix.
The book is hilariously written in parts — the author makes no distinction between the words “subsequently” and “consequently”, for example — and so it requires some interpretation to really understand. The included CD, while not required, is interesting listening if you want to hear tracks being built and instruments being synthesized.
It’s rare that I run into a book which is perfectly suited to my competence in a subject. Most are too simple, some are too complex. This book provided me with exactly what I needed, including the first-ever cogent argument I’ve heard against weed: since weed makes music better, don’t smoke it while learning to compose — it’ll impair your critical faculties.