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Csound is one of the world's leading packages for the software synthesis of sound. Its vast range of detailed synthesis methods coupled with score generation and MIDI facilities complement CDP's sound transformation programs and make it a key tool in a computer musician's studio. Csound is available free of charge via Internet download and is distributed for your convenience on disk with CDP Systems.
Detailed explanations, hundreds of example scores and orchestras, sound samples and illustrations can be found in the following new publications and graphic interfaces. Never before have resources on this scale been available to help us come to grips with this powerful software.
For an introductory overview to Csound, see 'Creating Unique Synths with Csound is Virtual Child's Play' by Richard Boulanger (Electronic Musician October 2000).
|The Csound Book||Ed., Richard Boulanger (MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2000. ISBN 0-262-52261-6)||'Perspectives on software synthesis, sound design, signal processing and programming'. 32 chapters from the top sound designers and programmers of the world, with an additional 45 chapters on CD-ROM. Comes with two CD-ROMs. £55.00|
|The Csound Catalog with audio||compiled by Richard Boulanger (MIT Press 2000)||Sound samples and hundreds of example scores and orchestras, with excellent indexing facilities|
|VISORC||David Perry||Windows GUI which combines a Cycling '74Max/MSP-like graphical representation of each Csound opcode with a piano-roll score-file representation.|
|CECLIA||Alexandré Burton and Jean Piché||A complete Csound production environment for Linux and Power Macintosh.|
|VMCI||Gabriel Maldonado||A virtual MIDI-controller interface oriented towards the real-time manipulation and performance of MIDI instruments.|
Csound has been the subject of a prodigious level of development in the last few years, with a number of important independent versions appearing, in addition to the 'canonical' public version maintained by John Fitch of Bath University, from which the latest version is available for most platforms. The documentation and tutorial support has seen a similar level of development, and is now available in both pdf and HTML formats. There is also a very active, informative and well-mannered discussion group.
Recently, Analog Devices has developed a special real-time form of Csound called Extended Csound (or 'XTCsound') to run on SHARC dsp chips. A number of proprietary facilties, mostly for MIDI control, have been introduced. On the other hand, some algorithms such as waveguide synthesis, which are still under patent, have had to be excluded. Extended Csound can currently only be obtained by purchasing the XTCsound Software Development Kit (SDK), which includes a powerful six-channel soundcard (Win95 only).
CDP therefore no longer has need to compile and distribute its own version of Csound, though it will include the public domain version in its distribution for your convenience. The current version is Wincsound4_08.
Public Csound has the following synthesis types and key sound shaping features: additive and subtractive synthesis, formant synthesis (FOF), granular synthesis, non-linear synthesis (fm, waveshaping), physical modelling (waveguide synthesis,Karplus-Strong), spectral transformation (pvoc) and linear predictive coding. There are additional facilities for spatialisation and reverberation, over several channels the most recent versions of Csound support input and output in up to eight channels. MIDI support is also greatly advanced.
'Software synthesis' refers to creating sounds within the computer, as opposed to 'sampling' a sound. It includes the algorithmic and compositional aspects as well as primary timbre synthesis. Csound can also read in an existing sound for further processing and incorporation into a score.
- Distribution of a recent Wincsound on disk (this is public domain, and no charge is made)
- Andy Hunt's 3-part tutorial introduction to Csound
- Richard Orton's 'Csound Tutorial Instrument Library'
- Programs (Falcon030 systems only):
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Last updated: 12 February 2002