- Fundamentals of
Musical Acoustics by Arthur H. Benade. This is probably
the best book for someone interested in how musical instruments generate
musical sounds, the effects of different bore sizes and shapes, and how to
make a trumpet that nobody can play. There is next to no math, but
the explanations are still as detailed as one could ever want without a few
years of graduate school.
- Horns, Strings,
and Harmony by Arthur H. Benade. This book goes into
less detail than "Fundamentals of Musical Acoustics", but is still a good
- On the Sensations
of Tone by H. Helmholtz. Probably the seminal work in
this area. Not quite as easy to read as Benade.
- The Physics of Musical Instruments
by Fletcher & Rossing. A more recent
text of acoustics, focussed on the acoustics of musical instruments.
More detail and mathematics than Benade, not necessarily easier to read.
- Acoustical Aspects of Woodwind Instruments
by Cornelis Nederveen. Another recent text,
concentrating on the acoustics of musical isntruments.
Instrument Making (DIY):
- Musical Instrument
Design : Practical Information for Instrument Making by Bart Hopkin.
Bart Hopkin is the publisher and editor of the journal "Experimental Musical Instruments."
This book is full of tips and ideas for creating your own, non-traditional
- Gravikords, Whirlies
& Pyrophones : Experimental Musical Instruments by Bart Hopkin.
This book comes with a CD, and is full of "experimental musical instruments"
selected from years of the journal. The CD has 18 tracks, each one featuring
one or more instruments ranging from daxophone to gravikord to car horn organ.
Must be heard to be believed!
- Orbitones, Spoon Harps & Bellowphones,
by Bart Hopkin. The sequel to Gravikords,
this book/CD combination is another must-have.
Organology (just about instruments):
- The Oxford Companion
to Musical Instruments by Anthony C. Baines. A comprehensive
encyclopedia of musical instruments.
- Brass Instruments
: Their History and Development by Anthony C. Baines.
A good, illustrated history of the development of brass instruments, including
- Woodwind Instruments
and Their History by Anthony C. Baines. This is where
I first heard of sarrusophones, bass flutes, contrabass clarinets, and most
other features of my mania ;-).
- The Syntagma Musicum
: Volume Two, De Organographia, First and Second Parts by Michael Praetorius.
This is probably the most famous work regarding early musical instruments.
Some medieval and renaissance instruments made today are based only on descriptions
in this work. May be out of print
- The Oboe and the
Bassoon by Gunther Joppig. An excellent study of the
oboe, bassoon, and related instruments (i.e., some more depth regarding the
heckelphone, sarrusophones, and rothophones).