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Refining Sound is a practical roadmap to the complexities of creating sounds on modern synthesizers. Perhaps the most difficult aspect of learning to create sounds on a synthesizer is understanding what all the individual synthesizer components contribute to the complex finished sound. Author and veteran synthesizer instructor Brian K. Shepard draws on his years of experience in synthesizer pedagogy in order to peel back the often-mysterious layers of sound synthesis one-by-one. The result is a book that allows readers to familiarize themselves with each individual step in the synthesis process, in turn empowering them in their own creative or experimental work.
Refining Sound follows the stages of synthesis in chronological progression from the "raw materials" of sound waves through the various stages of the refinement process, ultimately bringing readers to the final "polishing" of their sounds with audio effects. Each chapter focuses on a particular aspect of the synthesis process, and contains easily digestible guided projects (entitled "Your Turn" sections) that focus on the topics of the chapter. Throughout the text, the material is supported by copious examples and illustrations and more than forty interactive synthesis demonstrations on the related companion website that allow the reader to experiment with and understand these concepts without the distraction of other synthesizer controls and modifiers. The final chapter brings everything together as the reader creates several common types of synthesizer sounds with detailed step-by-step instructions and explanations of the concepts behind those steps. With all of the sounds in the final chapter, readers are given suggestions and tips on ways to modify the sounds, with final outcomes left to the readers' own creativity. Refining Sound is essential for all electronic musicians from amateur to professional levels of accomplishment, students, teachers, libraries, and anyone interested in creating sounds on a synthesizer.
Brian K. Shepard is Assistant Professor of Pedagogical Technology in the Flora L. Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California, where he teaches courses in Music Technology, Synthesis, Composition, and Music Theory at both the undergraduate and graduate level.