The Csound Book: Perspectives in Software Synthesis, Sound Design, Signal Processing,and Programming
||Author: Richard Boulanger|
List Price: $65.00
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Publisher: MIT Press (06 March, 2000)
Sales Rank: 50,643
Average Customer Rating: 4.07 out of 5
Customer ReviewsRating: 4 out of 5
The Art of Csound Programming
This book teaches how to create vital sounds by the well-known techniques of DSP. With the programming etiquette of others as a reference, one can learn the art of csound whose potentiality is to be able to make the fine signal processings and the complicated routings, in a word, the musical manifolds. However this book might not be for the beginners. The following books are also recommended;
1) Charles Dodge: Computer Music. This book is for the beginners or the composers, because there is a lot of practical tips. The topics are limited, but its explanations are deep.
2) Curtis Roads: Computer Music Tutorial. This is rather for the students or the researchers, because there is a lot of historical informations on the computer music. The topics are more various, but its explanations are less practical.
Rating: 4 out of 5
The definitive Csound compendium
A word of warning to electronic music newbies: Be sure to learn the fundamentals of synthesis and MIDI before venturing into the realm of Csound. This book assumes a level of knowledge regarding these subjects and will present an insurmountable challenge to someone with no programming experience. However, for those that do, it will present a whole new universe of possibilities.
As a composition tool, there is nothing quite as extensive or powerful as Csound, which is why there is an equally extensive learning curve for its students. I feel that this book is probably better suited as a text for a college course rather than a stand-alone guide for DIYers. But in its defense, I belong to the latter category and have fared pretty well in learning the language.
While I must criticize Mr. Boulanger for not giving thorough enough explanation to some critical topics in his book, overall--this is by and far the best resource for anyone attempting Csound. You will find the contents of the included CD-Roms to be an immense supplement to the book's chapters.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Not for beginners
Csound is probably the most powerful digital synthesizer software available. And it is essentially free. But writing code to produce music can feel like creating your own custom draw program from scratch to create a painting. There is no noodling with a keyboard or twisting knobs and listening to instant results. No, you create an .orc and a .sco file, one for the instruments and the other for the "notes"(though the language can be used to create filters and process sound). This gives you unlimited control, but you pay the price of programming headaches e.g. debugging, crashes, etc. There is also a very steep learning curve. Csound is a work in progress, though. Matt Ingalls's (and others) tireless work has made Csound easier to use, and has even updated it to Mac OS 10. He has also created an extension that allows Csound to interface with Max/MSP, perhaps simplifying the composers task. Nevertheless, Csound has a long legacy as a musicN language, and it has its roots in computer science.
If you are getting started in electronic or computer music and have little background in the field, this book may ultimately prove frustrating. Chapter one provides a perfect example. It opens with an .orc file and uses terms like control rate and sampling rate, but it isn't until much later that we find out what these things mean. Much of the first section is difficult to work through because of this approach. I think that the book would benefit from a rewrite, and I mean truly rewriting section one from scratch so the foundation is Basics of Synthesis. A section written like a "Dummies" book would be helpful for beginners like me, while the Csound mavens could simply flip to chapter X,Y, or Z and read at their level. Otherwise, the author should dispense with the basics and focus on making this a book for those already familiar with Csound. Obviously, the author/editor put tremendous effort into this book, so it seems a pity that it is kind of poorly organized. Finally, The Csound Book would benefit from careful spell checking (the author refers to GEN21 creating "Poison" distributions).
After having spent a year with the Csound book, I can make some recommendations for someone wanting to start electronic composition. You must read Curtis Roads's Computer Music Tutorial, probably the best electronic music book written. Don't let the dry title fool you, it is great reading. It will teach you the fundamentals and will serve as a reference if you decide to tackle Csound. Or, consider using Max/MSP instead of Csound. It isn't free, but it does have a graphical interface, yet it does not sacrifice flexibility. And you can now use Csound as a sort of "plug in" for Max/MSP. If you want to make popular music, Csound will probably only prove useful if your current software can't make a sound that you want.
As I said, Csound is a work in progress. A new book called "Virtual Sound" by Riccardo Bianchini and Alessandro Cipriani, reviewed in the Spring 2002 Computer Music Journal may be a better resource.
· Composing Interactive Music: Techniques and Ideas Using Max
· The Computer Music Tutorial
· Computer Music: Synthesis, Composition, and Performance
· Real Sound Synthesis for Interactive Applications (With CD-ROM)