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Notes from the Metalevel: An Introduction to Computer Composition (Studies on New Music Research) Pap/Cdr Edition

3.5 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-9026519758
ISBN-10: 9026519753
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Product Details

  • Series: Studies on New Music Research (Book 6)
  • Paperback: 356 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; Pap/Cdr edition (November 26, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9026519753
  • ISBN-13: 978-9026519758
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.7 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,158,439 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By David L. Phillips on December 29, 2005
Format: Paperback
I reviewed this book for the Computer Music Journal, giving it an overwhelmingly positive review. Since then I've re-read the book in its entirety, and my opinion has changed somewhat: If Amazon had six stars to give then I'd give it all six. :)

This is a first-class book for anyone interested in using the computer for music composition. Be forewarned though, it is not a guide to GarageBand or any other MIDI sequencer or hard-disk recorder. The author uses his own Common Music progamming language as the basis for an exploration into techniques and methods of making music that would be most unlikely without the assistance of the computer. Btw, the Common Music software is included with the book, in packages for Windows, Linux, and the Mac, so you can work with the book's examples immediately.

The text is clear and easy to understand, reflecting the author's experience as an educator. The examples are helpful and open-ended, lending themselves to further explorations. In addition to the regular examples the book includes a number of more extended projects based on work by composers such as Steve Reich and Gyorgy Ligeti.

No previous experience with a music progamming language is necessary, but if you have a background in Lisp or another object-oriented language you'll feel right at home with this book's Lisp-based example code. If you know nothing about programming the book's first chapters will bring you quickly up to speed on the basics needed to work with the rest of it.

The cost is a bit high, but the paperback edition is sturdy and well-printed, so I'll echo my CMJ review and state again that this book is worth every penny of its purchase price.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
At the time the CMJ review went to press, this book was set to become a classic tutorial in algorithmic composition. But by 2009, the author had overhauled the Common Music software entirely and abandoned the version used in this book. As such, unless you cobble together a CM2 installation to work directly with the examples, or are willing to try to modify the examples so they work in CM3, I cannot recommend this book. The omission of the CD also complicates matters, because even if the included software is now (very) obsolete, the MIDI & audio examples that were included are essential listening and not to be found online anywhere. (What better way to verify the reworked code examples than to to audibly compare them to the original CM2 output?) Several attempts over the past few years to get these examples from the author were met only by only an occasional empty promise, or more typically, no reply at all. I seem to be in good company, too, as dozens of others have reported the same problem. Seriously, how hard is it for the author just to offer these examples on the publisher's website, or better still, his personal UIUC webspace? (Dr. Taube, are you listening? Or do you just not care?) In any case, the price of this book is not presently justified, and unless you are taking Dr. Taube's class and must buy this book, I strongly suggest you consider another book for self-study until the author gets his act together or offers an updated edition for CM3.
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[refer to 'calvinnme' review.] Reviewer stated that examples ,etc. are on the accompanying CD. I purchased and returned a used Amazon 'marketplace' copy of this book because it didn't include the CD. I had attempted to reach the author and the publisher to obtain it directly, with no success. I then re-purchased the book (a new copy) directly from Amazon. It arrived today, with no CD. Page 'x' of the forward specifically indicates that there is an accompanying CD. The publisher's website even has an ISBN number for it. If it is not included with the book (the author says you need it later in the preface), then this should have been made clear, and information provided as to how to obtain it. No such information was in the book, and the publisher has yet to return anything other than an automated "received..' reply my email two weeks later. The information in the book is very good, and has prompted several ideas I'd like to explore. I would give it 5 stars, except for the problems I've described.
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