CSound and other "text-based" environments?
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Old 03-09-2011, 01:19 AM   #1
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CSound and other "text-based" environments?

Hello!

A friend of mine introduced me to CSound, after I had learned some PureData. But I still haven't gotten enough info wether its goot to learn it or I'll just trash my head.

I like visual programming enviornemtns because I can see everything. However, PureData lacks some capabilities, its still very pre-programmed, like the oscillators. And visual enviornment even slows things down when screen is full of all kinds of modules.

I have tried SuperCollider in the past, with no avail. Too difficult for me and it requires basically a supercomputer to synthesize all that sound from scratch! CSound seems more reasonable, but I don't know any C.

Does anyone use it at all? Any input of its capabilities and toughness?

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Old 04-09-2011, 07:45 PM   #2
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Re: CSound and other "text-based" enviornments?

from the 3 mentioned in your post i had the most success with Pure Data.

The key to success with PD is discipline and to make use of subpatches, so
that the patches dont get too messy.

you are not forced to use the standard oscillators, just build your own.

and if you want to warok with text only, you can edit PD patches
with a normal text editor. This requires even more discipline, IMO.

there is a bridge to csound ( and to SC ) in PD, so if you want to
use these softwares in your patches, you can do so.

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Old 27-11-2011, 12:03 PM   #3
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Re: CSound and other "text-based" enviornments?

Well first off Csound is an incredibly powerful and versatile piece of software which is specifically suited to sound generation and processing. It is text based and allows for a user to render out audio based on lines of code. This is a very simplistic description of the program but the main thing to note about Csound is that its sound generation and processing capabilities are ridiculously good, as is the overall sound quality and the level of user control over basically everything.

Despite all the amazing things that Csound does from a sound design perspective, it is not particularly easy to use in a composition scenario. Note events and the likes are expressed as lines of code in a list and in this way compositions are created. This is somewhat irritating to use as ideas arranged in this way are very difficult to visualise in time and additionally, as a composition increases in size and complexity the list of events becomes really painful to deal with.

Another thing about Csound is that it’s quite old and was intended to be run out of realtime (computers weren’t fast enough in the past, though it is possible to run it in realtime now) as such it doesn’t have much in the way of a realtime user interface (there are some basic attempts at realtime suitable GUI elements but they’re not great) to allow the composer interact with parameters of the signal generating and processing mechanisms in the program (i.e. With the opcodes). Thus there is no real auditioning of ideas or realtime experimentation rather you need to have a somewhat predetermined composition or sound idea in mind and then go edit the code to produce the desired result.

What this all means is that Csound is most effectively used through PD or MaxMSP in conjunction with a DAW such as Logic or Ableton. I've put written a detailed article[Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]
about how exactly Csound can be incorporated into your toolset using Max/MSP and Logic. To get up to speed on Csound taks honestly about a week, give it a month and you'll be flying. The books that you really need to get you up to speed are Virtual Sound by Riccardo Bianchini and Alessandro Cipriani; and The Csound Book by Richard Boulanger. Any other questions let me know. I 've found Csound to be one of the most important tools in my compositions over the past 18 months and though its tricky to make sense of it at first, it is unbelievably powerful and worth the time required to get into it. Hope this helps!
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Old 27-11-2011, 05:09 PM   #4
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Re: CSound and other "text-based" enviornments?

There's [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]
for a more DAW-like solution to using Csound.
Csound can also interface with [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]
, if you're on Windows.
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Old 27-11-2011, 05:37 PM   #5
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Re: CSound and other "text-based" enviornments?

As a frontend Blue is deadly as is [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]
. To be honest though they are not optimised either for mixing or use with many of the other tools that are usually necessary in composition such as plugins and so on. So if you do choose to work in Blue or Cecilia at some point you will eventually have to return to a more fully featured DAW to mix and master. In addition being able to code in Max/MSP or PD allows for a great degree of flexibilty in terms of what you actually do with Csound and the kind of information you feed into it. Thus it can be said that having that integration set up from the start saves on hassle later on the project and allows greater freedom. That said Blue and Cecilia do offer a unique way of working that might be more in line with your requirements. Find the solution that works best for you but rest assured that however long it takes to get working with it properly, Csound is amazing!
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Old 27-11-2011, 06:26 PM   #6
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Re: CSound and other "text-based" enviornments?

Yes, Csound isn't really ideal, if used solely on its own. It just misses much of the potential then and makes things much harder than they could be.

I've recently started digging into Csound as an ITB alternative to try some processes that Kyma offers. And stuff that cannot be done or is a lot more impractical to experiment with in any other program or plug-in. It definitely has its uses, and it's free.

Last edited by Blank^; 27-11-2011 at 06:31 PM..
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Old 29-11-2011, 12:13 PM   #7
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Re: CSound and other "text-based" enviornments?

SuperCollider is really not for beginners. A friend of mine used it and nearly got frustrated. I'd say Csound is okay tho
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Old 29-12-2013, 03:59 PM   #8
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Re: CSound and other "text-based" enviornments?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nhordmyr View Post
SuperCollider is really not for beginners. A friend of mine used it and nearly got frustrated. I'd say Csound is okay tho
It depends on the tutorial you use. David Cottle has a really nice free book that explains how to use SuperCollider, and I'd say it's fine for beginners as long as you have the patience to read it and go through the steps he describes. I learned it from his book.
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Old 29-12-2013, 04:01 PM   #9
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Re: CSound and other "text-based" enviornments?

Another thing that really helps with text-based programming is learning a good editor. I use vim, but emacs is also powerful. They might look intimidating, but it pays off tons if you stick with it.
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Old 18-03-2014, 09:24 PM   #10
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Re: CSound and other "text-based" enviornments?

We used QuteCsound in college… so you might want to start with that! If you're really curious, grab yourself a copy of "The Csound Book." It has a ton of information on not only Csound but sound design in general. A very educating experience.
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Old 18-03-2014, 10:26 PM   #11
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Re: CSound and other "text-based" enviornments?

You might want to check out ChucK - [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]
..it's free and apparently pretty good, too.

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Old 22-10-2014, 01:08 AM   #12
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Re: CSound and other "text-based" enviornments?

I've been working with csound for a couple of years now and i think it's an incredibly powerfull language. It's very simple to learn, since the way you think at something it's exactly the way you write it. That said, i think csound on its own couldn't satisfy all programming needs, because it's non-realtime oriented, because it's not intended to be controlled by MIDI (even if it is possible) and because sometimes it lacks in flexibility.

Usually I use it in conjunction with max/msp, trought the csound~ object; this way you benefit of csound capabalities while using max as a controlling platform. For sound synthesis it remains my weapon of choice.

As always, each language has its strong and weak points, and csound it's the perfect complementary to object-oriented environments, at least in my setup.

Last edited by marsdrums; 22-10-2014 at 01:48 AM..

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Old 13-12-2014, 11:32 PM   #13
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Re: CSound and other "text-based" enviornments?

I think that, ultimately , there is no difference between using PD , Csound or Supercollider . All have a high learning curve, but in a few months can see results and level of control is much higher than with other types of software .

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