These are my top book recommendations for all composers. I have personally read or used as a reference all of these books and can highly recommend them. Collectively, they have made the biggest impact on my composing.
Analyzing Classical Form by William Caplin is will give you a solid toolset for understanding musical form. He bases his theory of form off of many of the ideas from Arnold Schoenberg’s book, The Fundamentals of Musical Composition. I cannot overstate the impact his book has made on my compositional thinking. Highly recommended for all composers.
Voice Leading by David Huron is a fascinating book that goes into the psychological aspects of how we hear independent musical lines and the principles behind them. For the first time, he has truly cleared up the plethora of conflicting rules given by different books on the subject of voice leading and counterpoint.
This books really started me on the right path to understanding composition. Schoenberg has a great way of explaining the processes of composition and breaking them down for beginners.
This is the best book on modal counterpoint, hands down. He breaks the process into simple steps and has very clear rules to follow.
A great resource to break out of traditional harmony.
This is an amazing book that really shows the logic behind how our harmony works. I have referenced his ideas frequently in my courses and articles.
Creative Orchestration: A Project Method For Classes In Orchestration And Instrumentation by George Frederick McKay
Creative Orchestration is one of the few books on orchestration that has actual principles to follow, and not just rules of thumb.
For advanced orchestrators, Brant’s book really breaks down balance and timbre like no other author has done before.
The best resource on music notation. This is always on my desk when I am preparing parts and orchestral scores.
This is a must read for anyone wanting to learn orchestration.