Slam Academy Founder Releases New Book

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Dr. J Anthony Allen, Founder and ACT, writes book on music theory for electronic music producers

Slam Academy Founder, Dr. J Anthony Allen has taught music theory and composition at many universities and private schools all over the world. Allen is known for spearheading the Music Theory Online Program at Slam Academy, which got enough attention that Dr. Allen was asked to speak at the 2017 Loop Conference held at Ableton, Inc. in Berlin, Germany.  He wears many hats in the entertainment industry besides being a professor of music, including music producer, songwriter, recording engineer, sound designer, DJ, remixer, multimedia artist and performer. With all of this industry experience under his belt, it was a natural step for Dr. Allen to write a book combining music theory with digital technology. He takes us on a journey of sound on why certain notes sound good together, chord progressions, patterns, textures and song analysis. Curious on how Skrillex makes those “scary” and wobbly bass sounds?  This book explains it all. Yes, “psycho chords” really are a thing.

credit: Jamie Maldonado

Born and raised in Michigan, Allen holds a PhD in Music Composition and a Bachelor’s degree in Guitar Performance, and currently teaches at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. He has worked with many forms of interactive media and his work has been described as “a study in ominous sound and motion” (Baltimore Sun), “an aural hallucinogen” (Minnesota Public Radio), and “a beautiful and engaging use of technology” (Cogapp: The Art and Science Blog). In 2003, Allen joined the Spark Festival of Electronic Music and Art team as assistant director and lead producer through to 2009. He has spread his teachings to students at the University of Amsterdam, Peabody College, University of Minnesota, MacPhail Center for Music, McNally Smith College of Music, St. Thomas, and Augsburg University, just to name a few.

Allen’s pursuits are grounded in the idea that advances in composition must explore the unknown, with an acute respect for music as a social creature that cannot thrive in isolation. An innovator in the field of electronic performance, Allen often performs with a set of glove controllers which he designed, built, and programmed.

J, pictured in the Ice Fields, on an iceberg somewhere off Svalbard. Sailing on the Antigua. – at Arctic Ocean

As a solo artist, Allen’s project experiences range from works written for the Minnesota Orchestra to pieces developed for film, TV, and radio. In 2014, Allen was a semifinalist for the Grammy Foundation’s Music Educator of the Year Award.

His music can be found on the Hackademica, SEAMUS and Panacea3 labels and is also available on iTunes and Spotify.


Music Theory for Electronic Music Producers:

The producer’s guide to harmony, chord progressions, and song structure in the MIDI grid.


As an online class, Dr. Allen has had over 50,000 students use this ground-breaking curriculum to learn music theory. Students and producers who have wanted to learn music theory to improve their own music, but have been intimidated by traditional approaches, music notation, and abstract concepts will find this book to be the answer they have been looking for.

From the Author:

“How music theory is usually taught is unfair. It starts with the assumption that you can read music and understand the language of classical music. My book leaves all of that behind – focusing only on the MIDI grid that producers are already familiar with to learn all the key concepts of music theory, and ultimately, make better music.”

This book covers all the fundamentals of music theory, but is written using the language of the DJ and Producer – the MIDI Grid. It includes “analysis” projects that look at the harmonic and melodic ideas in songs by popular producers including Zedd, Boards of Canada, Daft Punk, Deadmau5, Bonobo, Richie Hawtin, Moby, Skrillex, and Aphex Twin.

Praise for Music Theory for Electronic Music Producers:

Page 58

“Aspiring electronic musicians have choices to make when it concerns their own education and training. This text makes one choice much easier: start here and get learning, quickly. Grounded and easygoing, the book uses real-world examples to help you make sense of music’s inner workings while steering clear of dense theories.”

– Michael J. Ethen, PhD

Page 195

“This book knocks the oftentimes alienating world of music theory completely onto its side. Difficult to explain concepts are perfectly demonstrated for the aspiring electronic music producer who might have no formal music training. A must have for all aspiring producers.”

– James Patrick (DJ, Producer, Educator)
Slam Academy, Dubspot, IPR, Ableton Certified Trainer

Page 108

“With Music Theory for Electronic Music Producers, Dr. Allen has produced a remarkable resource: an extensive tour of musical theory that leverages some of our favorite modern tools – the virtual studio and it’s piano roll note display. By introducing us to the “why” as well as the “what” of music theory, this book helps us to understand what makes music tick and how to improve our own work. In addition to offering a sound theoretical foundation, the deep dives into analyzing tracks by Skrillex, Aphex Twin, and Deadmau5 keeps our attention focused on real-world production. MTEMP will definitely go on the top of my recommendation list for anyone that needs a fresh view of musical concepts.”

– Darwin Grosse
Director of Education, Cycling ’74

Enroll: Free Online Week 5/21 – 25/18               Attend: Book Signing 5/25/18

Purchase the book on Amazon