Strange Book On Electronic Music Getting Another Reprint

Dr. Jason Nolan has announced a Kickstarter project to fund a second printing of a classic book on electronic music, Electronic Music: System, Techniques and Controls, by Allen Strange.

The book was unobtanium for decades, until Nolan published a new edition in 2022.

Here’s what Nolan has to say about the new edition:

“Republishing Allen Strange’s Electronic Music: System, Techniques and Controls, has been a four-year project since its inception. The goal, from the beginning, has been to bring this important work back into the hands of fans of the original, students and teachers of the history of electronic music, musicians and electronic music practitioners, and designers of electronic music systems.

We have permission to make Allen’s work available in print and electronic form from Pat Strange who holds the copyright, and Pat has been actively guiding our efforts through much of the project. At present, Allen Strange’s Electronic Music: System, Techniques and Controls, will only be available through this Kickstarter.

In Pat’s own words (from the preface): “Since it’s first edition in 1972, Electronic Music: Systems, Techniques and Controls has been acknowledged as the definitive text on modular synthesis. In today’s musical community analogue techniques have made a resurgence among many musicians and composers. The idea of a republication has been in the works for many years and the timing of doing it now just made sense. I am very grateful to Jason Nolan, Ann Ludbrook and the team at Toronto Metropolitan University who saw the importance of this endeavor as well as taking on the task of bring this book back to life. I am so appreciative of their attention to preserving the quality of the book and respecting its content. I know that this project would have meant a lot to Allen, specifically in knowing that his techniques and teachings are continuing to influence the future of electronic music.”

This is a non-profit project. Costs involved are royalties, production, logistics and shipping costs. Any residual funds will be donated to community music initiatives focusing on electronic music and electronic music learning.”

Here’s Walker Farrell from Make Noise sharing his take on the book:

Pricing and Availability:

The printing of Electronic Music: System, Techniques and Controls is being done via a Kickstarter project, and the book is available to backers starting at about $30 for the softcover edition. The project has already met its funding goal.

Note that crowd-funded projects can involve risk, which is detailed at the project site.

Image: System80

22 thoughts on “Strange Book On Electronic Music Getting Another Reprint

  1. Jason mentions a few changes being made that will affect the size, but, sadly, it looks like they will not be addressing OCR issues (particularly bad with figure numbers), bad kerning in the preface, bad spacing on the last line of columns that don’t end paragraphs, grainy diagrams, etc.

    1. The only thing that bothered me about the final text was the the scanning/reproduction of diagrams and symbols sometimes renders them unreadable.

      I can’t emphasize enough how slipshod this whole Kickstarter was in round one. Maybe it’s lots better now regarding communication and timely delivery.

    2. Ya, that’s being discussed, but no one has offered us the money required to do it or the hours of free labour. I do have someone willing to work out the amount of work involved and a budget, and perhaps we can get students to do it. Problem is, there are like 10000 times new roman fonts, and if you move something on one page something on another page disappears. Just how Adobe acrobat pro scanned it. I only offered to get the book back in print. That said, if it’s useless due to the artefacts, definitely worth buying an original.

  2. I participated in the first Kickstarter, which was marked by delays and bungling mismanagement (of the project effort). Dozens of excuse-laden emails and months after the promised delivery I did finally receive a copy. It was the most fraught book purchase of my life. Caveat emptor, lole.

    1. I personally backed the initial project, and thought that Nolan did a very professional job of communicating status for the project, from printing through shipping.

      Nolan’s updates from the last Kickstarter project are available, if potential backers for the current project have any concerns:

      Nolan did make clear when the last campaign was launched that the project was a labor of love, done outside of his work as a college professor, and that it was being done as a non-profit project. Backers for any Kickstarter should make sure to read the project info and risk statements before participating.

      The reprints start at about $30. I found my copy from the last reprint to be very well done. The reprint retains the quirks and flaws of the original source, but the printing and binding are better than the quality of my 1st and 2nd edition copies.

      If you’d rather avoid waiting for a book to get printed and shipped as a non-profit project, vintage copies are readily available via Amazon, starting around $300 for a copy in ‘acceptable’ condition:

    2. Nolan’s communications were honest, friendly and clear. Sorry everything isn’t Amazon perfect for you, but I would have no hesitation backing another project of his.

    3. Totally agree with you. It was by far one of the stupidest things I ever did. I had no idea the size of it. I just wanted to print up a few hundred books to share with people who wanted it. I didn’t want to get into the printing and logistics. If I’d had my druthers I would have not wasted the hundreds of hours of volunteer labour it took to learn the lessons any commercial publishing or transportation logistics shop already knew. And I would have paid myself and all the volunteers properly (doubling the cost).

      What made it worth while is the patient, understanding and supportive fans of the work who understood what was involved who encouraged me to just keep moving forward as best possible. This time, I know more. I’m not volunteering much time. I’ve raised the price to hire someone to do most of the work, and it will be a smaller print run. But I’m only doing it because I got 1200 folks who filled out a form wanting copies. And thinking of how much people appreciated the struggle to get the first copy out, how could I just let them down?

      Thanks for supporting the original project, and I hope you have the opportunity to have an experience such as I did, with all the attendant feedback and comments on the effort.

  3. I am lucky enough to have had a 2nd edition copy for many years and consider it a must have work for those serious about learning synthesis.

  4. If you’re seriously into modular, especially as a circuit bender, this should probably be on your shelf. The guy wrote the Buchla Music Easel manual, so there’s a lot to be learned here. Its an esoteric world, even to a lot of synth players. You never know when some fringe piece of information will illuminate what you’re after.

  5. This was the primary textbook for the classes I taught at Occidental College for 11 years back in the 70s and 80s. I met Allan Strange in about 1973 up in San Jose. He clearly knew his stuff! His book remains an important tool for students and teachers. But it will need an updated edition to be fully useful today. There have been a L O T of changes in the EM world.

    1. People should understand that this is NOT an updated version of Strange’s book, and doesn’t cover modern synths.

      It covers fundamentals very well, though, with lots of examples using Moog and Buchla modules. This information is relevant to more people than ever, given that Eurorack versions of these modules are readily available and affordable to a broad audience.

  6. Buddy, why’d you censor my earlier comment? It would be helpful information for people considering involvement in this project.

    Is this a blog or an advertising platform for HW manufacturers and other industry businesses?

    1. No need to go straight into conspiracy theory fantasies.

      ALL first-time commenters get their initial comment held for human moderation, to keep spam and hate speech off the site.

      Here’s an example of a first-time comment that demonstrates why policies like this are necessary:

      “Just shut the fuck up already, you stupid whiny arrogant pricks. This site is so full of shit heads who are so full of themselves it is a disgrace. Do you also all post at gearwhores? Cause that shit forum is full of the same stupid asshole pussies.”

  7. Fair points and that’s some ugly language and thinking you’re filtering out. I apologize for my wrong assumption and accusation.

    By way of explaining my own touchiness, here’s an example response illustrating why I feel jumpy as hell trying to express any opinion about anything that isn’t unqualified praise:

    “Nolan’s communications were honest, friendly and clear. Sorry everything isn’t Amazon perfect for you….”

    I don’t even like Amazon!

    My fond regards to you, Synthhead

  8. Jason is a wonderful person. Throughout the entire kickstart period he has been transparent and communicative. He has worried about every shipment stuck in customs, every lost or damaged book.

    I am lucky enough to be one of the backers of the first batch and I am the happy owner of a hardcover copy.

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