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The Csound Book: Perspectives in Software Synthesis, Sound Design, Signal Processing, and Programming [Paperback]

Richard Boulanger
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Feb. 28 2000

Created in 1985 by Barry Vercoe, Csound is one of the most widely used software sound synthesis systems. Because it is so powerful, mastering Csound can take a good deal of time and effort. But this long-awaited guide will dramatically straighten the learning curve and enable musicians to take advantage of this rich computer technology available for creating music.Written by the world's leading educators, programmers, sound designers, and composers, this comprehensive guide covers both the basics of Csound and the theoretical and musical concepts necessary to use the program effectively. The thirty-two tutorial chapters cover: additive, subtractive, FM, AM, FOF, granular, wavetable, waveguide, vector, LA, and other hybrid methods; analysis and resynthesis using ADSYN, LP, and the Phase Vocoder; sample processing; mathematical and physical modeling; and digital signal processing, including room simulation and 3D modeling.

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"This is the most important book written in the last decade in the field ofelectronic music. Together with the new Csound technology, it willrevolutionize electronic music." Max Mathews , Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics,Stanford University

About the Author

Richard Boulanger is Professor of Electronic Production and Design at the Berklee College of Music and editor of The Csound Book: Perspectives in Software Synthesis, Sound Design, Signal Processing, and Programming (MIT Press, 2000).

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Csound is a powerful and versatile software synthesis program. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Nobody Does it Better Feb. 18 2005
Beginners be warned. This is not a book that is designed to hold your hand. For that go to [...] and check out the beginners secton. Also join the online forums.
This is the site that the author, Dr. Richard Boulanger maintains for people looking to get started with Csound. It is also the place most of the really good CSound software developers and users hang out.
If you have explored synthesis on another platform, then this is the book for you. If you have explored CSound a bit, and want depth then this is the book for you.
Dr. B has compiled resources and brings together the best of the CSound community in a compilation that is really a collection of CSound essays. Many of the articles are regretably brief. A few sections are missing all together. (Most notably the midi section is not included, and is still not written)
But what is written in this book is the best information you can get anywhere on the subject of computer synthesis in ANY LANGUAGE. I need to clarify that a bit though, two new projects are on the way which will change that. Csound 5 is in developement, and MPEG 4 also has a world class sound engine. But in both cases these new technologies are based on the stuff in this book. Yes, that is right, MPEG 4 has a csound like engine in it.
Csound is first rate. Nothing beats it. I have done the plugin thing, and downloaded or bought just about everything in synthesis available from anywhere. Some tools can offer you nice canned sounds, or pretty patch chords and knobs. But for pure raw power, flexability and creative oomph nothing can equal CSound. This book will take you from the world of patch chords and knobs into the world of programming. That is where the power is baby, in programming. Where anything can plug into anything.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The definitive Csound compendium Jan. 18 2003
By Tim
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.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not for beginners Dec 21 2002
By A Customer
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.
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...this book will give you the grand tour of Csound, from theoretical and practical perspectives. It's a comprehensive discussion of computer music synthesis--with pictures of how the sounds may be created and lots of code samples.
Been working with this book for about a month, just looking at it once in a while. I've been really pleased so far with the clear explanations of some of the more recent aspects of Csound such as fof, granular synthesis using grain and granule, and phase coding like linear predictive encoding. From a theoretical standpoint such things as modeling early hardware synths and are discussed. Also, the section on optimizing instruments has begun to save me a lot of processing time and shown me a good look under the hood of Csound.
Csound is a command line synthesis program . It's freely available, and anyone unfamiliar with Csound and its cousins should get them first and play around. Csound is open source, but I think of it especially as being open architecture.
Many of the rock stars of Csound have written articles for this book. I swear these cats live in a world unique to them. My job is to learn from it and make it rock.
The two CDs are great--lots of supplemental information and opinion, as well as manuals and printable tables of reference. There's audio too.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars The ultimate in synthesis
CSound is a multiplatform *free* software synthesis program. It's hard to use at first, but is the most powerful thing around. Read more
Published on Sept. 28 2001 by David Benson
4.0 out of 5 stars It's Come A Long Way Baby
While the price of the book is substantial, compare it to a college course in designing and manufacturing computer sounds... if there's one in your area. Read more
Published on Dec 29 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars Best way to learn synthesis and Csound
I've found that the Csound book provides more than just a way to learn Csound but rather a way to expand your knowledge in computer music as a whole. Read more
Published on Sept. 18 2000 by Glenn
2.0 out of 5 stars A review from a different perspective
I suppose that since I was confused just by the description of this book on the back, I probably shouldn't have bought it. But I did. Read more
Published on July 9 2000 by Daniel Mauck
5.0 out of 5 stars Long needed-much attempted
This is a remarkable book, in that it covers an entire sub-community of computer music making that has until now been mostly ignored in print: the Csound community. Read more
Published on April 19 2000 by Charles Baker
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Resource for Computer Music
First, I have to admit I'm one of the contributors to the book. However, I'll make every effort to provide an unbiased review to help you decide if the book is for you. Read more
Published on April 18 2000 by Michael Gogins
5.0 out of 5 stars The Csound Book - The Definitive Csound Text
I did not go to college. I have studied compositon, midi, digital synthesis, recording and computer technology on my own for many years. Read more
Published on April 18 2000 by Michael J. Rhoades
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive guide to Csound
First, I must say that I contributed to the CD-ROM included with the book, so my review is not unbiased. Read more
Published on April 18 2000 by Dave Phillips
2.0 out of 5 stars Too long a wait? too many expectation?
I have been subscribed to the csound mailing (on and off) list for 4 years now. All the topic of the book have been discussed at full length and sometimes even more thouroghly on... Read more
Published on April 16 2000 by R. Coen
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