Reddit reviews: The best music conducting books

We found 16 Reddit comments discussing the best music conducting books. We ran sentiment analysis on each of these comments to determine how redditors feel about different products. We found 6 products and ranked them based on the amount of positive reactions they received. Here are the top 20.

Top Reddit comments about Music Conducting:

u/ILikeasianpeople · 5 pointsr/WeAreTheMusicMakers

Hey, I’m kind of a book junkie when it comes to common practice stuff, so I’m gonna throw a bunch of em at ya. The common practice era of composition can be broken down into 3 major fields of study: Form/Composition, Harmony and Orchestration. Form/composition is about how music develops over time harmonically and melodically. Harmony is about how vertical sonorities interact with one another, this is one of the most fleshed out aspects of music theory. Orchestration, usually the capstone discipline, dives into how groups of instruments interact with one another on a harmonic level and a melodic one. Harmony+composition can be studied simultaneously considering there is so much overlap, orchestration usually comes after you have a middling understanding of the other two subjects.

There are a bunch of free online materials on these subjects, but here is my personal favorite:

There are also a few free books on harmony, orchestration and composition, but most of them were published a very long time ago. As a consequence, you may run into outdated or poorly explained concepts.


Guide to the Practical Study of Harmony


Principles of Orchestration


Fundamentals of music Composition

Exercises in Melody Writing

Most of the stuff with comprehensive+up to date information on these subjects is going to be something you pay for. Here are my favorite textbooks. One thing I value in a textbook is an accompanying workbook and/or some sort of exercise based learning, so I’ll be listing the workbooks (if applicable) as well.

Melody in Songwriting

Craft of Musical Composition Parts One and Two

Models For Beginners in Composition

Harmonic Practice in Tonal Music

Workbook for Harm Practice

The Study of Orchestration

Workbook for The Study of Orchestration

This isn’t an exhaustive list but it’s pretty solid.

Recording orchestras is out of reach for most, so you’ll probably need some good VSTs to use and some knowledge of how to make them sound ‘real’. Building an orchestra template is key to making music quickly and efficiently. It’s a massive headache to have to wait for Kontakt to load and instrument every time you want to add a flute or violin to your score. Here are the basics of what you’ll need:








French horns




“Low brass”


1st Violins

2nd Violins




First chairs of each









Orchestral percussion

Concert Toms



Concert bass drums

Here are some places to get all of that:

Audio Bro (the ARC system is awesome)



Orchestral Tools (my favorite)


EastWest Sounds

Heres a resource to make all of that stuff sound ‘real’. It’s a lot more difficult then you may think.

The Guide to MIDI Orchestration 4e

u/Nukutu · 3 pointsr/Choir

I'm currently studying Vocal Performance in preparation for graduate studies in Choral Conducting. I would ABSOLUTELY look into literature such as Dennis Shrock's books, specifically his most known, Choral Repertoire and Choral Scores.

Also, if you are looking at this opportunity very seriously as your future, this is very exciting and I welcome you to choral singing!

Absolutely also look into the work done by Dr. James Jordan, he is one of the leading scholars, pedagogues, and conductors in the field. His books in the Evoking Sound series, Evoking Sound, Evoking Sound, the Choral Warmup, and if you're particularly interested in conducting(not just choral conducting!) and its nuances, then The Conductor's Gesture.

Also, Podcasts are a GREAT resource, listen to Choir Chat, with John Hughes, he interviews the fields leading experts and big names, composers, conductors, and teachers!

I would also like to say that the greatest tool for finding new rep is just listening to choirs, listening to a lot of recordings. You should be able to find a LOT of rep just from searching through recordings from ACDA conventions alone.

Also, recommendations for composers generally outside of the classical choral canon, or who are gaining some popularity, Stacey Gibbs for spirituals, Moses Hogan for spirituals, Dan Forrest is a new contemporary composer whose music is approachable, Jake Runestadt is another contemporary composer with approachable music, Daniel Elder's set of Three Nocturnes(Lullaby, Ballade to the Moon, and Star Sonnet), Michael Burkhardt for treble choir or approachable young choir / world music, Eugene Rogers has a very approachable series for world music, Joseph Flummerfelt has a lot of fantastic arrangements of a lot of stuff(Danny Boy), Greg Jasperse for vocal jazz, Darmon Meader for vocal jazz, Kerry Marsh for vocal jazz.

Don't hesitate to message if you have any questions about the comment or in the future!

u/CumulativeDrek2 · 2 pointsr/WeAreTheMusicMakers

The great thing about virtual instruments is that you don't have to make them do anything 'correctly'. You can stretch them and distort them into all kinds of new directions using all the tools available on the computer. You don't even have to know what the instruments do - just treat them as sound sources and be creative.

If you are wanting to learn to compose for an actual orchestra then I would start by sitting down and listening to a lot of orchestral recordings while following the scores (also going to concerts). Pick out bits that stand out to you and start studying how the various textures are built, how each instrument works, how performers approach various articulations in an orchestral context, the sounds the instruments produce when combined into sections, what each section contributes to the overall orchestra etc.

There are a lot of resources for this kind of thing. Orchestration Online is a great resource. Books like Adler's The Study of Orchestration can be invaluable as a reference.

Best of luck!

u/Zalladi · 1 pointr/NintendoSwitch

Hey there - it depends on what sort of you music you want to write and how much you already know!

A good place to start is ... reading! :O

But seriously, books like Samuel Adler's ["Study of Orchestration"] (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Study-Orchestration-Samuel-Adler/dp/0393283739/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=study+of+orchestration&qid=1557587743&s=gateway&sr=8-1) is perfect for learning about the common orchestral instruments, and other books like Elaine Gould's ["Behind Bars"] (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Behind-Bars-Definitive-Guide-Notation/dp/0571514561/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=behind+bars&qid=1557587760&s=gateway&sr=8-2) is an excellent guide for creating professional scores.

Outside of reading, listening to orchestral music of the 20th century is also a great learning tool, particularly composers like Stravinsky, Holst, Britten, Tippett, etc.

And if you can read music, following the scores/sheet music as you listen is even more useful (you can find a lot of free scores on [IMSLP] (https://imslp.org/)). If you have time, follow one instrument at a time, see how the instrument is being used, what it typically plays ("idiomatic" writing), the general ranges and techniques, etc.

And then just have a go at it - it can't be learnt overnight (heck, I've been doing it for nearly 9 years now!), but if you keep chipping away at it every now and then, progress will start to show!


u/Xenoceratops · 4 pointsr/musictheory

If you're not familiar with chromatic harmony up through augmented sixth chords and enharmonic modulations, I recommend getting a good modern textbook like those listed in the sidebar.

Counterpoint is indispensable for composers, but the internet is in the habit of perpetually recommending Fux, whose style I regard as outdated. Plus, his examples have contrapuntal and stylistic errors. Brian Hyer's counterpoint manual is fine for species writing. Also look at Seth Monahan's videos on harmonic species counterpoint. Ernst Krenek's manual is decent as a start to tonal counterpoint. Kent Kennan's Counterpoint is a very good book too.

Beyond that, Schoenberg's Fundamentals of Musical Composition and Reginald Smith-Brindle's Musical Composition offer some nice insights to composition.

For orchestration, you can go with Sam Adler's Orchestration, but honestly I usually don't use these books for much more than ranges and this tiny, cheap book is more convenient. Sometimes I'll look up how to notate a certain technique, but even the big orchestration books can be spotty on those and I find myself hunting them down in specialist books. Jazz arranging is a little different. For that, refer to Rayburn Wright's Inside The Score and Bill Russo's Composing for the Jazz Orchestra, but understand that these are built around a certain tradition of jazz arranging.

u/m3g0wnz · 2 pointsr/musictheory

Oh I bet it is somewhere, I just don't know where, since I'm not a conducting major or anything. I had to take one conducting class in college, and we had to get the book The Modern Conductor. Unfortunately I don't have it with me where I live right now, but you might look in there or other books about conducting for a true answer—though imho I'm pretty sure I'm close to the mark with the answer I gave you above. Glad I could help!

u/prayer_mode_records · 7 pointsr/classicalmusic

If you want to save your money and learn a ton, wikipedia is actually an excellent resource for basic orchestration. IMSLP has loads of free scores... youtube and spotify loads of videos and recordings of performances. Listen to/watch a piece along with its score. If you're still looking for a book, Samuel Adler's The Study of Orchestration is a great (but expensive) place to start. Cheers.

u/mcl523 · 3 pointsr/MusicEd

Check out this book:

It's appropriate for all levels. The key is to activate their singing voice, which is different than their speaking voice (singing voice has more head resonance, is more brilliant, and forward; needs to be spacious and resonant)....

This book is also good. Reading through it now. http://www.amazon.com/Evoking-Warm-up-Procedures-Planning-Exercises/dp/1579993893

Finally, if you want tips for working with untrained voices.. read this book. http://www.amazon.com/Directing-Choral-Program-Kenneth-Phillips/dp/0195132823

It'll also tell you of logistical concerns too, like designing a program, programming a balanced concert, conducting, and things of that sort. It reads like a textbook but is really informative

oh, and one of my favorite books: It features a "Troubleshooting" area too that tells you how to fix various concerns in untrained singers.

u/kadendelrey · 1 pointr/musictheory

Composing the writing new lines or melodies. Think of it as writing something from scratch. Just like drawing
Orchestration is a form of arranging: for example you take a piano piece and arrange it for orchestra that's basically orchestration.

This video explains it (good channel for Orchestration):


Also, get the bible of orchestration (it is expensive so I advise you to get the 3rd edition instead as it's way cheaper):

Piston is also a good book for orchestration

u/JohannesMahler · 2 pointsr/classicalmusic

You probably have already done this, but is there a conducting class at your school? It would be a good thing to take.

Also, is there a 'second' band/orchestra/choir that you could possibly assist with? A lot of schools have these, and there is no harm in asking the conductor of the group if you could possibly assist. You would learn a ton.

Also, this book