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The Csound Book: Perspectives in Software Synthesis, Sound Design, Signal Processing, and Programming Paperback – Feb 28 2000

4.1 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 782 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press; 1 edition (Feb. 28 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262522616
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262522618
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 3.3 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #688,789 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


This is the most important book written in the last decade in the field of electronic music. Together with the new Csound technology, it will revolutionize electronic music.

(Max Mathews, Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics, Stanford University)

Written for the technically astute, The Csound Book and its accompanying CD-ROM provide a vast resource for seasoned Csound users to expand their use of the language. With its numerous examples and tutorials, this tome also makes Csound more accesible to a new generation of more musically-oriented individuals. As such, it marks a potential turning point in the field of computer musci. This is an important text.

(Marcia Bauman, Composer, co-creator of the International digital Electroacoustic Music Archive at Stanford University)

This book provides both a theoretical introduction and practical hints to use Csound and to tailor it to the reader's own needs. It is an excellent tutorial and much more, since a host of distinguished contributors make their own developments available. I look forward myself to developing my own sonic and musical tools with the Csound Book.

(Jean-Claude Risset, composer, Directeur de recherche, Laboratoire de Mecanique et d'Acoustique of CNRS)

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).

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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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By A Customer on Dec 21 2002
Format: Paperback
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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By A Customer on Dec 29 2000
Format: Paperback
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. It must be said, CSOUND IS NOT AN EASY STUDY. I suspect that for most people, gaining fluency is a matter of YEARS, at least if you're not a dedicated sound hacker. But if you're determined and have some background in audio (if you don't... STOP HERE!), this book will help you to use Csound to make some interesting sounds quickly. The (literally) thousands of pre-designed instruments are ready to use... you only have to create the scores (or modify those provided). Creating scores is NOT a joy. Basically it means typing in long columns of numbers.... because every instrument "call" has to have n parameters sent to it. If that sounds like gobbledygook, you might want to pass on Csound for now. Would that there were a sophisticated tool to assist in the job. If it's here I haven't found it yet. My major nitpick with the book (which, if you're inclined, is full of intriguing concepts and tricks) is the disorganization of the CD-ROMs. Yeah it was a big job, and I guess nobody really wanted to tackle it properly. On the other hand, by creating your own organization, you'll more quickly grasp the scope of the wealth of material here. If you don't like technology and haven't the time to specify controls in detail, look elsewhere. Csound gives you the freedom to design sounds that have never been heard before... but you hafta be willing to part with some blood, sweat and tears.
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Format: Paperback
...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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