Refining Sound: A Practical Guide to Synthesis and Synthesizers
Brian K. Shepard
Oxford University Press
About the BookRefining Sound Book Cover
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.

With a Foreword by Dave Smith of Dave Smith Instruments

About the Author
Dr. Brian K. Shepard is Professor of Audio Design Practice and Assistant Dean of the USC Iovine and Young Academy for Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. In addition to Refining Sound, he is the creator of EchoDamp, the only audio mixing and echo control software designed for musical videoconferences on high-performance networks like Internet2. He is a two-time winner of the Internet2 IDEA Award for his research into sound and audio issues related to videoconferencing. Prior to his current position, Brian taught Composition, Synthesis, and Electronic Music in the USC Thornton School of Music, the University of Oklahoma School of Music, and the Texas Christian University School of Music. In addition to his teaching, research, and writing, he is a professional orchestral percussionist with more than thirty years of symphony experience.

"Shepard employs an inviting and accessible writing style to explain advanced topics in a way that is easy to understand. This book demystifies many of the topics of synthesis that can be confusing to people."--VJ Manzo, Assistant Professor of Music Technology, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and author of Max/MSP/Jitter for Music

"Refining Sound is an approachable introduction to the secrets of synthesis. The companion website is chock full of tutorials, making this well organized book a handy reference for either self-study or in a course."--Mary Simoni, Ph.D., Professor Emerita, University of Michigan, Dean, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

"In Refining Sound, Brian Shepard provides a deeply valuable and sorely needed resource for the musician seeking to understand sound design. In clear language, he thoroughly explains and illustrates concepts that could be tedious and overwhelming for most readers, and does so from the perspective of the musician rather than the mathematician or physicist. I'm sure we will use this book as the primary text in our synthesis classes for years to come."--Scott L. Phillips, PhD, Co-director of Music Technology, The University of Alabama at Birmingham

"Brian K. Shepard's book on synthesizers and synthesis is one of those rare volumes which is comprehensive in its explanations of the history of synthesizers and electronic music in general that makes for a jolly good read. For enthusiasts and professionals alike, this book is the best I've read in years. Thoroughly recommended!"--J. Peter Robinson, Composer

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Companion Website Materials
In addition to the book, Refining Sound features a comprehensive companion website with more than 40 interactive learning objects that allow the reader to isolate and experiment with each element of a synthesizer. Login information for the site can be found on the About the Companion Website page of the book.

Refining Sound