At the Sounding Edge: What's Going On with Csound?

A look at what's changed and what's new in Csound5, the major overhaul to the long-standing Csound software sound synthesis language.

Although it is not a part of any official Csound package, I must make special mention of developer Steven Yi's blue, a powerful graphic environment for producing music with Csound. blue is a Java-based application that accommodates any version of Csound and includes a number of graphic tools for the creation of Csound scores and instruments. Alas, I don't have space in this article to describe adequately blue's extensive capabilities, but Figure 5 should give you some idea of blue's resources.

Figure 5. The blue Csound Production Environment

blue provides the Csound composer with some truly unique resources, such as its graphic scoring tools and the blueDX7 GUI for editing DX7 raw sysex patches for use within Csound (Figure 6). The blueShare facility gives the user access to an on-line database of user-defined opcodes. Interfaces are provided for the Jython and Rhino languages, dialect forms of Python and JavaScript, respectively. Also, a graphic instrument builder similar to blueDX7 is available for designing Csound instruments with real-time parameter control panels. If you're looking for the most complete Csound helper application available for Linux then you're looking for blue.

Figure 6. The blueDX7 Instrument Editor

Departing Words

I hope you've been intrigued by this sneak peek at the new world of Csound. For all the new flashy gear and software that the music industry pours forth, none of it seems to equal the sheer power of Csound. Yes, you have to learn how to use it, but ample documentation and many tutorials are available on-line. In addition, a sizable number of excellent pieces composed entirely with Csound can be found on the Internet. Csound may be the oldest SWSS language that continues to be in constant use, and its recent developments indicate that it will be in constant use a good while longer.

I would like to thank the following people for their tremendous efforts in keeping Csound alive and healthy: John ffitch (El Maestro), Richard Boulanger, Richard Dobson, Michael Gogins, Matt Ingalls, Steven Yi, and Istvan Varga all deserve great praise, and I must especially thank John ffitch and Istvan Varga for their dedication to UNIX/Linux Csound and for their unstinting assistance to this perpetual Csound newbie.


Similis sum folio de quo ludunt venti.

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