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Experimental Computer Music and Electronic Music Creation

Updated on March 17, 2012

Experimental Computer and Electronic Music Creation

Here are sources for free or relatively inexpensive software and hardware to create computer or electronic music.  The emphasis here is on experimental approaches to creating music with technology, rather than the traditional (sequencers, sound editors, synthesizers and such).

Books about Free Music Software Packages

The Csound Book: Perspectives in Software Synthesis, Sound Design, Signal Processing,and Programming
The Csound Book: Perspectives in Software Synthesis, Sound Design, Signal Processing,and Programming

Csound can be quite cryptic, but this book provides an excellent step by step process through this computer music language.

 
The SuperCollider Book (The MIT Press)
The SuperCollider Book (The MIT Press)

An excellent book covering the powerful SuperCollider music environment. It covers tops from an introductory to advanced level.

 

Web Software for Experimental Music

The following sites have software that allows you to create computer music within a web browser.

Algorithmic Music Composition Websites

Sites that concentrate on software that creates music. Remember, however, we are talking about experimental music here. Although software exists that creates many traditional music styles, this list does not concentrates on traditional styles.

Computer and Electronic Music Hardware and Interfaces

Hardware and hardware kits useful in creating electronic music and creating non traditional physical interfaces.

Books On Building Experimental Music Hardware

Handmade Electronic Music: The Art of Hardware Hacking
Handmade Electronic Music: The Art of Hardware Hacking

The second expanded edition of an EXCELLENT book dealing with the hardware of electronic Instruments. Nicolas Collins has been creating electronic instruments from scratch and by modifying existing electronic sound generating devices for years. This book clearly explains how this is done - from the simplest to fairly involved and complex projects. For anyone interested in working woth electronic hardware - even a beginner - this book is tremendous.

 
Getting Started with Arduino (Make: Projects)
Getting Started with Arduino (Make: Projects)

A nice introduction to the Arduino platform. However, this book also contains information on basic electronics, electronic construction (via breadboarding) and schematics.

 

Microcontrollers

A variety of microcontroller systems that can be used when interfacing with computers to control electronic music.

Other Computer/Electronic Music Web Sites and Resources

Here are some additional web sites with information about creating Computer and Electronic Music

Writing Your Music Software Yourself

Websites with information on writing your own experimental music software.

Books On Writing Music Software

The Audio Programming Book (The MIT Press)
The Audio Programming Book (The MIT Press)

If you would like to create your own music software this book is for you. It is a comprehensive reference to programming music. It includes sections on DSP programming, algorithmic synthesis, music programming and much more. The book contains 15 chapters and eight appendices, with an additional 40 chapters on the accompanying DVD.

 
The Csound Book: Perspectives in Software Synthesis, Sound Design, Signal Processing,and Programming
The Csound Book: Perspectives in Software Synthesis, Sound Design, Signal Processing,and Programming

Csound can be quite cryptic, but this book provides an excellent step by step process through this computer music language.

 
Real Sound Synthesis for Interactive Applications
Real Sound Synthesis for Interactive Applications

A book on writing software that creates sounds via physical modeling. The author, Perry Cook, covers many traditional methods of synthesis, but spends most of the book describing physical modeling - creating software systems that create sounds by modeling the physics that creates them. The coding is in C++, and the book, and accompanying CD, includes a set of C++ classes and algorithms for writing your own code.

 
Microsound (The MIT Press)
Microsound (The MIT Press)

Microsound is about creating music with very small fragments of sound, fragments lees than one tenth af a second in length. More commonly called "granular synthesis", Curtis Roads - this book's author - has been working in this field since at least 1972. He has written this fairly comprehensive guide to granular synthesis which deals with the organization and processing of these "grains" to produce sounds that are out of the reach of more traditional methods of sound synthesis.

 

Experimental Computer Music Composers

Here are the web sites of some of my favorite Computer Music and Electronic Music Composers.

Books On Creating Your Own Sounds

Designing Sound (The MIT Press)
Designing Sound (The MIT Press)

An excellent book on designing your own sounds. This is not about recording sounds, instead the author teaches you how to synthesize many everyday sounds and then manipulate them. The book uses the free software Pure Data (Pd).

 

Related CDs and DVDs on Amazon

Endless Shout
Endless Shout

This CD contains one track of Georege Lewis performing with Voyager. George Lewis has spent years developing this computer program that improvise with a live performer and itself. The performance on this CD is AMAZING.

 
Ohm: The Early Gurus of Electronic Music Special Edition 3CD + DVD
Ohm: The Early Gurus of Electronic Music Special Edition 3CD + DVD

A fantastic collection of works and videos by the pioneers of electronic and computer music. contains 3 CDs and a DVD woth over 2 hours of performances, interviews and experimental videos.

 
Moog
Moog

A great documentary on DVD about the best known of the early synthesizer pioneers.

 

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