• Jack Hughes

5 Must-Read Books For Composers

As composers, we must constantly be challenging ourselves and searching for a fresh perspective on things. Whilst modern technology offers us numerous ways of discovering new information, there is something timeless about the experience of opening up a book and losing yourself in the thoughts and ideas contained within.


Here are 5 books to stimulate your intellect and deepen your understanding of the craft of writing music for the moving image.




Twenty-Four Frames Under: Buried History of Film Music


This 1997 book from Russell Lack traces the development of film music from its origins in 1896 up to the modern era. Twenty-Four Frames Under is regarded as a definitive work on the subject and presents an exciting and illuminating account of the progression of the art form.


With chapters on copyright, politics, jazz and surrealism, as well as substantial dedication to film music aesthetics and the evolution of film technology, this book is a must read for all aspiring film composers.




The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human – Jonathan Gottschall


The Storytelling Animal is an engaging and thoroughly researched examination of the human impulse to tell stories. The book aims to explore these ideas from a biological, historical and psychological perspective, whilst drawing on the latest research in the fields of neuroscience and evolutionary psychology.


Jonathan Gottschall skilfully bridges the gap between art and science here, and offers plenty of intriguing observations and insights the will leave you feeling smarter having read it.



The Art of Creative Thinking – Rod Judkins


The Art Of Creative Thinking looks deep into the habits and behaviours of some of the most successful creative thinkers in modern times, and has been cited as a game-changer for many. Whilst the subject matter is deep, the chapters are short and can be dipped in and out of at random, making for a light and easily digestible reading experience.


If you are stuck in a creative rut, or are struggling to find a balance between your artistic exploration and the practical realities of making a living then this is the book for you.




The Study of orchestration Samuel Adler


Considered the gold standard of orchestration texts, this classic is essentially an encyclopaedia of orchestral instruments and orchestration and should have its place on the bookshelf of any composer. 


Written by accomplished and renowned composer Samuel Adler, This book details how a master of composition approaches orchestration, and takes you through solo instruments and small groups all the way to full orchestra.



Mastery – Robert Greene

Robert Greene is one of those rare writers whose works have moved from the category of books to be read, to books to be studied. In mastery, Greene relentlessly unpicks the process involved in mastering any craft, using lessons and teaching from some of the greatest masters in history including Leonardo Da Vinci, Mozart, Charles Darwin, Henry Ford and Steve Jobs to name a few.


Equal parts practical and philosophical, this book identifies the common themes and patterns that make up the path to mastery, and equips you with the mindset to get there yourself.


We hope you enjoy these recommendations!


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jack@northernfilmorchestra.com

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