Recontextualizing Ambient Music in Csound

For the first four weeks, we’ve covered much ground in terms of Csound basics and synthesizer fundamentals. Today, we begin transitioning into elements of computer music composition, starting with Recontextualizing Ambient Music in Csound by Kim Cascone.

There are few resources that approach introductory Csound compostion as elegantly as Cascone’s chapter from The Csound Book. In it, Cascone provides a bit of history and personal background, techniques for composing in a computer music environment, and six instrument designs. There is one particualr passage that I want to emphasize, as I think it can be of great use:

“I started studying instrument design by taking other composers’ instruments and drawing them out on paper in flowchart form. I took the scores and isolated a particular instrument by commenting out all other instruments except the one I wanted to listen to. I would then start to modify that instrument in various ways so I could hear the effect my code was having.”

Synthesis Fall 2010

3 thoughts on “Recontextualizing Ambient Music in Csound

  1. Great series Jacob! I’ve been meaning to ask this newb questions for a while now: what are the instrument diagrams/flow charts called, and is there a legend or explanation available on-line somewhere? I understand them for the most part, but some things aren’t completely clear to me.



  2. @pete.m I usually refer to them as block diagrams, but I also see them being called instrument diagrams, flow charts, and other things as well.

    I don’t have a legend, yet, but I will make it a priority to do so this week.

  3. Jake
    Thanks for pointing people to Kim’s article. It and the accompanying piece remain one of my favorites to get back into csound when I’ve been away for a bit. What I especially like is that it goes beyond the basics as found in Dr. B’s excellent tutorials and explores more complex instruments in a definite musical context rather than as more bare-boned ‘here’s how’ information. I hope you have plans ro go in this direction as well.