AbstractAs powerful computers become more available, and modern software can be found either free, as shareware or for small cost, this paper considers how to overcome what may become the major stumbling block on the way to a truly global artistic paradise. We are concerned with how to teach the composers of the future to use the tremendous potential of computer music. As the young are used to hardware synthesisers, with their immediate access to sounds, we seek a way to build on this experience, while maintaining the interest of the student. We propose a variety of techniques, largely based on using physical models of musical instruments to extend into the wider software synthesis possibilities.
The computational power of today’s personal computers brings the most powerful signal processing and synthesis tools developed in the larger educational and research establishments into the home studio. Cost is no longer the issue. For less than US$ 2000 you can have the equivalent of the IRCAM ISPW or a Next Running SynthBuilder on your battery powered PPC or PC Laptop. What is more, all the “essential” software tools and utilities can be had commercially at very low cost or are freely available over the Internet. Thus we are seeing that independent composers and free-lance artists are seeking out this software, and this places demands on the designers for ease of use and general utility.
This paper concentrates on one of the remaining problems which limits the widespread use of the technology, and could still limit electro-acoustic music to a few enthusiasts or a few musicians with persistence, and that is the complexity in specifying every feature of a composition, and in particular describing the detailed timbral evolution of each note.
It is a commonplace that the last 40 years have seen increases in power of computers and decreases in costs and size which those of us who were active with machines in the 1950s and 1960s did not dream about. We see widespread use of computers, and increasingly they are in the home and the school. With this apparent exponential improvement it is tempting to believe that we are on the edge of a breakthrough to a world where everyone can make music in any form he wants. But living in the real world of now, it is clear, at least to teachers of music synthesis, that it is still possible for things to go wrong. It is at least in part because of the problems of pedagogy that the Csound Book1
was written, where a