csound questions answered (Greg Sandell )

Subject: csound questions answered
From:    Greg Sandell  <sandell(at)EPUNIX.SUSSEX.AC.UK>
Date:    Fri, 29 Oct 1993 11:48:43 WET

Dear Auditory readers, Someone recently asked me about using Csound for signal generation in an Experimental Psychology/Psychoacoustics context. I've decided to forward my reply to the list, because I get this question from time to time from various people in the field (being a frequent user of Csound myself). I hope it is helpful! Greg Sandell Gregory J. Sandell (sandell(at)epunix.sussex.ac.uk) Experimental Psychology, University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QG England +44-273-678058 > me more about csound. I've heard about it before in passing, but I've > no idea what it is? It's hard to hard to think of a quick way to describe it, for two reasons. First, it's a vast, and highly sophisticated program. On that point I consider it to be an excellent media for signal generation for psychoacoustics purposes. Second, it is authored by musicians, and thus addresses many aspects of signal generation that are important to composers of electroacoustic music. Thus the large number of commands that relate to a musical viewpoint of sound may be offputting to the psychoacoustic user. One particularly musical point of view is that signal generation is broken up into two components, the instrument (or orchestra) and the score (both are ascii files created by the user with a text editor). The instrument should be viewed as a sort of patchbay connecting various oscillators, filters, noise generators, and so on, which has any number of parameter slots (called p-fields) that determine the values for the various units (e.g. the frequency and amplitude for an osciallator). The score is a sequence of lines defining individual calls to that instrument, including a start time, a end time, plus the values for all the p-fields required by that instrument. One simple way in which I frequently use csound is to make larger expermental soundfiles from a small collection of smaller individual soundfiles. If I have a design where the same set of N sounds will be heard in various orders or various simultaneous combinations, I simply write a score that calls for these soundfiles to be sounding at different points in time. Saves a tremendous amount of compute time and filespace. > Is it a c-based programming language for sound synthesis? The name "Csound" reflects more the historical development of the program than the coding style. The grandaddy of Csound is Music-V, developed by Max Mathews in the 60's. Later variations (by various authors) are Music360, Music4BF, and Music-11 (for the PDP-11). Thus name Csound indicates that it is written in C, but the user writes his or her code in a language specific to Csound. > If so where can I get a copy? Csound is available for free via ftp from MIT, details given below. Its author is Barry Vercoe (bv(at)ems.media.mit.edu) of the MIT Media Lab. There are versions tailored to various flavors of Unix, as well as a version for Think-C (ie. Macintosh). The standard release of Csound is a command-line oriented language...there is no graphical user interface. However, Pete Yadlowsky has an excellent front end for the NeXT (pmy(at)vivaldi.acc.Virginia.EDU). In that version one is not spared from having to create ascii files for the score and orchestra, but the execution of the csound command (with its many options), and management of files is handled with a GUI. Someone also has a program for X-Windows that lets you create orchestras in an iconic-graphical fashion, but when I last saw it, it was just a clever demo allowing you access to only a tiny subset of Csound's features, so I cannot recommend it for practical use. > The reason for this is that I'm about to get a Mac Quadra with an > Audiomedia II card and need to get some kind of software for sound > synthesis. Any version of Csound can be used to make soundfiles playable through the family of DigiDesign products. The key is to use the AIFF flag in the call to csound, move the resulting file to the Mac, then use ResEdit to change the file type to AIFF and the Creator to Sd2a. Then when you click on it, it will bring up the appropriate DigiDesign program with that file loaded in. Here is one of the more recent announcements for the Csound package from Barry Vercoe. - Greg Date: Mon, 10 Aug 1992 16:16:58 -0400 From: Barry Vercoe <bv(at)MEDIA.MIT.EDU> Subject: Csound new release To: Multiple recipients of list AUDITORY <AUDITORY%MCGILL1.BITNET(at)cmsa.Berkeley.EDU> I have recently released a new version of my Csound software, and this memo is to make it available to anyone in AUDITORY who wants it. Csound is a software synthesis program for generating extremely controlled soundfiles for auditory research. It is already used by several people in the AUDITORY mailing list, and is currently running at about 500 sites around the world. The software is Copyrighted , but is available free to educational and non-commercial users. If you would like to use it too, and you have a local computer with audio I/O ability, simply follow the access information below. -- Barry Vercoe ***** I have posted a new version of Csound on ftp. At MIT, Csound currently runs on DEC-RISC and SGI Indigo machines under Ultrix and Unix, on SUN's (4.03 and 4.1 OS), and on Macintosh's (THINK_C's Lightspeed C 4.0). It is also known to run on NeXT and HP workstations. Csound includes FOF and Phase Vocoder synthesis. Recent additions include reading/writing AIFF soundfiles. The User Manual is now in Word 5.0 format; a PostScript version is on its way. Csound can perform from midifiles, MPU401 files, and (in realtime only) from a MIDI keyboard. This latter needs a MIDI-to-serial interface (38400 RS-232 or 422), and is known to run on DECstations, SGI machines and SUNs. The sources include a Midifiles directory, with MIDI scores that will run right away. These can generate soundfiles on any machine. If your machine is fast enough, you can do software synthesis in real-time, with interactive sensing and control. [See "Realtime Csound", ICMC Proc., Glasgow, 1990.] However, realtime synthesis (and MIDI keyboard performance) works only on fast machines (DEC, SUN, SGI). Csound sources are available to educational institutions via FTP. To get here via ftp, type: ftp cecelia.media.mit.edu At the prompt 'Name (....)' anonymous then at 'Password(....)' yourname(at)site At 'Guest login ok, ...... ftp >' cd pub/Csound To list all available files: ls -ls To understand these files: get csound.README |more Read this README carefully. It tells which files you need to run under Unix or on the Mac. Now set for binary transfers: binary Then for each file you want: get csound.tar.Z (or whatever) When you're done: CTRL-D If you plan to run on a Unix system, ftp either 'csound.tar' or 'csound.tar.Z' This contains all sources and makefiles for building an entire Csound system. If you plan to run on the Mac, you should ftp only .hqx files. The up-to-date Csound Manual is in Csound.man.hqx, and currently needs a Mac to unbundle and print. A PostScript file for standard printers is coming. [ Note: the manual is in fact available in MS-Word format now. - Greg ] Bugs to: csound(at)media.mit.edu -- Barry Vercoe bv(at)media.mit.edu -- Gregory J. Sandell (sandell(at)epunix.sussex.ac.uk) Experimental Psychology, University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QG England +44-273-678058 --

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