Recommended for Composers

Here fol­lows sev­eral books and items I rec­om­mend for com­posers, musi­cians, and all kinds of cre­ative people.

If you are inter­ested in buy­ing any of these items, mouse over the prod­uct and click “buy now.” I will receive a very small com­mis­sion for the refer­ral, and there is no extra cost to you!

Richard D. Russell

In no par­tic­u­lar order…

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron: For those who wish to be “hands-on” in unlock­ing their cre­ativ­ity and over­com­ing cre­ative blocks. For artists of all kinds.

 Aaron Frankel’s book is a slim vol­ume, but thick in words and advice. I was for­tu­nate enough to study with him for sev­eral years at the New School Uni­ver­sity. A required text for com­posers and lyri­cists of musi­cal theater.

A fine, portable music writ­ing note­book (from Moleskine)

The Cre­ative Habit by Twyla Tharp: dis­cusses how to be a cre­ative per­son by mak­ing it a daily habit

Cre­ativ­ity: Flow and the Psy­chol­ogy of Dis­cov­ery and Inven­tion by Mihaly Csik­szent­mi­ha­lyi. What leads to opti­mal cre­ative moments, and how can you encour­age these experiences?

The Rest is Noise by Alex Ross: a riv­et­ing his­tory of music in the Twen­ti­eth Cen­tury. Very likely to chal­lenge and change your per­cep­tions and intro­duce you to new favorites!

 Sibelius: This is the nota­tion soft­ware I use.

Intro­duc­tion To A Phi­los­o­phy of Music by Peter Kivy: A phi­los­o­phy of music? What does that mean? Do I need to have one?

Why Clas­si­cal Music Still Mat­ters by Lawrence Kramer: If you feel as though you are writ­ing clas­si­cal music in a world where clas­si­cal music is dead, this book will inspire you.

For years I used Finale and I am still a big fan of the soft­ware. It has a rep­u­ta­tion for hav­ing a steeper learn­ing curve than Sibelius, but both pro­grams are solid, essen­tial tools for notation.

Essays on Music by Theodor Adorno: Very likely you will dis­agree with many of Adorno’s ideas; I know I sure do. Yet Adorno was one of the most influ­en­tial peo­ple to ever con­sider what music’s rela­tion­ship is to soci­ety. It is worth­while to become famil­iar with some of his think­ing.

The Bea­t­les: The Biog­ra­phy by Bob Spitz: Not only a defin­i­tive biog­ra­phy, but also a telling exam­ple of musi­cal col­lab­o­ra­tion and, later, “cre­ative differences.”

Chron­i­cles by Bob Dylan: A sin­gu­lar mind, a cre­ative whirl­wind — Enter the mind of one of the most impor­tant artists of the lat­ter half of the Twen­ti­eth Century.

About the Author

This was written by Richard D. Russell, New York City based composer of fine music.