The goal of this manual is to provide a readable introduction to Csound. In no way is it meant as a replacement for the Canonical Csound Reference Manual. It is intended as an introduction-tutorial-reference hybrid, gathering together the most important information you will need to work with Csound in a variety of situations. In many places links are provided to other resources such as The Canonical Csound Reference Manual, the Csound Journal, example collections and more.
It is not necessary to read each chapter in sequence, feel free to jump to any chapter that interests you, although bear in mind that occasionally a chapter may make reference to a previous one.
If you are new to Csound, the QUICK START chapter will be the best place to go to help you get started. BASICS provides a general introduction to key concepts about digital sound, vital to understanding how Csound deals with audio. The CSOUND LANGUAGE chapter provides greater detail about how Csound works and how to work with Csound.
SOUND SYNTHESIS introduces various methods of creating sound from scratch and SOUND MODIFICATION describes various methods of transforming sounds that already exist. SAMPLES outlines various ways you can record and playback audio samples in Csound; an area that might be of particular interest to those intent on using Csound as a real-time performance instrument. The MIDI and OPEN SOUND CONTROL chapters focus on different methods of controlling Csound using external software or hardware. The final chapters introduce various front-ends that can be used to interface with the Csound engine and Csound's communication with other applications.
If you would like to know more about a topic, and in particular about the use of any opcode, please refer first to the Canonical Csound Reference Manual.
All files - examples and audio files - can be downloaded at www.csound-tutorial.net. If you use CsoundQt, you can find all the examples in CsoundQt's examples menu under "Floss Manual Examples". When learning Csound (or any other programming language), you may find it beneficial to type the examples out by hand as it will help you to memorise Csound's syntax as well as how to use its opcodes. The more familiar you become with typing out Csound code, the more proficient you will become at implementing your own ideas from low level principles; your focus will shift from the code itself to the musical idea behind the code.
Like other audio tools, Csound can produce an extreme dynamic range (before considering Csound's ability to implement compression and limiting). Be careful when you run the examples! Set the volume on your amplifier low to start with and take special care when using headphones.
You can help to improve this manual either by reporting bugs or by sending requests for new topics or by joining as a writer. Just contact one of the maintainers (see ON THIS RELEASE).
Some issues of this textbook can be ordered as a print-on-demand hard copy at www.lulu.com. Just use Lulu's search utility and look for "Csound".
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