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The Computer Music Tutorial (Technology) Paperback – February 27, 1996

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Curtis Roads is a composer and researcher and was Editor and Associate Editor of Computer Music Journal for 20 years. He is currently Professor in Media Arts and Technology and Associate Director of the Center for Research in Electronic Art Technology (CREATE) at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

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Product Details

  • Series: Technology
  • Paperback: 1234 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press (February 27, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262680823
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262680820
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 2.1 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #137,582 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Curtis Roads (b. 1951) holds a joint appointment as Professor in the Department of Media Arts and Technology (MAT) and in Music at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), where he is also Associate Director of the Center for Research in Electronic Art Technology (CREATE). He studied music composition and computer programming at California Institute of the Arts, the University of California, San Diego (BA Summa Cum Laude with Highest Departmental Honors), and the University of Paris VIII (PhD Très honorable avec félicitations). From 1980 to 1986 he was a researcher in computer music at the MIT Media Laboratory. He then taught at the Federico II University of Naples, Harvard University, Oberlin Conservatory, CCMIX (Paris), and the University of Paris 8. He has led masterclasses at the Australian National Conservatory (Melbourne), Prometeo Laboratorio (Parma), Ionian University (Corfu), Goethe Institute (Rome), Kunitachi College of Music (Tokyo), Royal Conservatory (Aarhus), Catholic University (Porto), and the Zürich University of the Arts, among others. He is co-organizer of international workshops on musical signal processing in Sorrento, Capri, and Santa Barbara (1988, 1991, 1997, 2000). He served on the composition juries of the Ars Electronica (Linz) and the International Electroacoustic Music Competition (Bourges, France). Certain of his compositions feature granular and pulsar synthesis, methods he developed for generating sound from acoustical particles. A cofounder of the International Computer Music Association in 1979, he was Editor of Computer Music Journal (The MIT Press) from 1978 to 1989, and Associate Editor 1990-2000. His books include Foundations of Computer Music (1985, The MIT Press), Composers and the Computer (1985, AR Editions), The Music Machine (1989, The MIT Press), Representations of Musical Signals (1991, The MIT Press), The Computer Music Tutorial (1996, The MIT Press), Musical Signal Processing (co-editor, 1997, Routledge), L'audionumerique (1998, Dunod), The Computer Music Tutorial - Japanese edition (2000, Denki Daigaku Shuppan) and Microsound (2002, The MIT Press), which explores the aesthetics and techniques of composition with sound particles. A revised edition of L'audionumerique was published in 2007. A Chinese version of The Computer Music Tutorial was published as a national textbook in 2012. His music is available on compact discs produced by Asphodel, MODE, OR, the MIT Media Laboratory, and Wergo. His composition Clang-Tint (1994) was commissioned by the Japan Ministry of Culture (Bunka-cho). His electronic music collection POINT LINE CLOUD won the Award of Distinction at the 2002 Ars Electronica and was released as a CD + DVD on the Asphodel label (San Francisco) in 2005. In 2007 he received a National Science Foundation grant for research in algorithms for sound analysis (dictionary-based pursuit). He recently completed Composing Electronic Music: A New Aesthetic for Oxford University Press. He is currently working on a revised edition of The Computer Music Tutorial for The MIT Press, and a new set of electronic music entitled FLICKER TONE PULSE.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By graham p krasan on February 19, 2003
Format: Paperback
I have had an interest in virtual synths, computer music programs such as csound, MAX/MSP, PD, etc. Although program-specific tutorials were helpful, I had found nothing that discussed sound processing, synthesis techniques (e.g. granular synthesis, additive, vector, etc.) and theoretical underpinning to all modern synthesizer techniques so I could understand what I was doing on a more fundamental level. The computer music tutorial does all that and more. I agree with other reviewers that it is not a "tutorial" in the sense that it doesn't extensively flesh out tips/tricks with particular programs, but it is invaluable for providing insight into an encyclopedia of synthesis techniques in very easy conceptual language (to those with no background in DSP). This book is essential to anyone who is interested in the world of sound manipulation in general, whether its sample-oriented, wiring together virtual modules in programs such as reaktor, sync modular, audiomulch, abox or those in a more programming driven interface such as csound and PD.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Robert Bantin on June 21, 2000
Format: Paperback
I first came across this book at university, when faced with the daunting task of making a software synthesizer for a course project.
The lecturer of the course admitted to me that he had based the course on this book, so naturally I found a copy. After reading it for 5 minutes I ordered a copy, because I knew without a doubt this was the book that would carry me through the rest of my studies. Interestingly, anyone else who has ever seen my copy has gone and bought themselves without much delay!
What the book offers is threefold: 1. A good introduction to MIDI. 2. A broad spectrum of signal processing techinques (including SFX). 3. A fast repository of synthesis ideas.
It even explains the fundamentals of the Fast Fourier Transform optimisation.
A lot of math has been replaced by flow charts, and this is means that it can explain the ideas to a wider range of people (and not just mathematicians).
The real selling point of this book is that it is, ultimately, the best possible mix of scope and depth of the subject of musical synthesis.
At 1234 Pages, it's also good value for money!
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By RAVEH GONEN on December 5, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book contains enormous amount of important information for any computer music researcher, composer, programmer. It covers all the computer music related subjects in a very unique manner. The writing is superb. I have learned a lot about Digital audio concepts, Digital mixing, filtering and dozens more issues. With this book, you can start developing a software synth, Audio Effect Plug-In and other computer music related software. You can enhance your knowledge about every aspect of computer generated music and making music with computers. This is a book both for beginners and advanced professionals. A Must !
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By calvinnme HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 14, 2007
Format: Paperback
Don't peruse through this book and let the pictures of people from the 1970's and 1980's working with musical instruments and synthesizers that appear to be assembled from Heathkits scare you away. This book still has vast quantities of information that are very relevant today to the person interested in computer music. In this age of "Garageband", it's just hard to find information on the mathematics of sound synthesis and signal processing as it applies to music in a detailed well-illustrated format. Of course, many people don't need this information nor do they want it - but if you do this is one of several sources that I turn to. It assumes that you know music, but that you do not have a background in mathematics past algebra, and it is wonderful at explaining what goes on mathematically in computer music so that you can turn to a language like CSound and put to work what you learn in this book. I even know some engineering students have had difficulties with certain signals and systems concepts that I refer to this book, and afterwards they are crystal clear.

The first four sections of the book are completely relevant today, and they deal with fundamentals, synthesis, mixing and signal processing, and sound analysis. That is the first 600 pages of the book. Section five, on the musician's interface, is relevant and correct as to history and the basic facts. Many of the instruments used as illustrations no longer exist, but the theory of operation is still employed today. The section does discuss the "Max" software in the context of interactive performance, and Max is still used in various forms. Other systems such as MODE, MacMix, and NoteWriter, are now obsolete.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Corrado Tirelli on September 27, 2005
Format: Paperback
Nice book.

Although it may seem outdated, trying to making up one's mind one has to consider a few things:

It's true that synthesis techniques have evolved in a very impressive way during theese 20 years (the book as you may guess has been written during the 80's), but it's also true that many of today's so called "new" synthesis techniques (as some software synthesis companies are fond of saying) are simply the natural evolution of past ones.

Just to give you an example the plugin "melohman" by ohmforce can be viewed as moving wavetable synthesis tool combined with ring modulation and effects like delay filters etc.

On the other hand, some chapters like ones on music equipment or software for algoritmic composition -fields in which technology plays a very important role- do are really outdated.

Cmt is a very complete book, it covers most important fields involved in electronic music composition, as one can see stepping through the index. Explanation of FFT calls for a review of trigonometry and algebra if you didn't studied them well at school, like me for example.

This review must come to an end, so here it is:

If you are/want to become self-taught serious about computer music and you like to make music with softwares like Pure Data or Max/MSP this book is a good place to start. Buy it.

Profund understanding of the possibilities of synthesis techniques or effects design of course requires more specifc scientific/academic readings.
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