Kind of Blue
Posted by midiguru on November 10, 2012
A couple of months ago I got myself in some trouble — got some people mad at me. I had initially agreed to write the manual for a Buchla synthesizer (the “affordable” $15,000 Skylab system) in exchange for getting to keep the hardware. The job became less attractive to me when I realized I already had a far more capable modular synth on my hard drive, at a cost of $0.
Not to rehash that series of events at this late date; the point is, I regret the way it went down not only because I hurt some people’s feelings (including, I’m sure, Don’s) but also because I kind of enjoy writing manuals. I had previously written a book on Csound (Csound Power, available on Amazon), which is not quite a manual — more an introduction to the software. Csound also has a swell online manual on the Floss site, plus a fat book edited by Richard Boulanger and the bundled HTML docs. There’s no shortage of information on how to use it.
This week I’m kicking around a few ideas about what I might want to do indoors during the winter months. As it turns out, Steven Yi is about to release a new version of blue, his amazing front end for Csound. blue is also a free download. Steven is updating the manual prior to the release — turning it into a wiki and documenting the new functionality. But to my knowledge, nobody but Steven has written anything about how to use blue. And that’s kind of a shame. You have to learn Csound before you can really expect to get anything out of blue, but once you’re up and running, blue makes it relatively easy to do complex things that Csound does only grudgingly. Word is, he may release the software before the updated manual is ready, so there will be an information gap.
I also have the impression that Andres Cabrera is about to release version 0.7 of CsoundQt. This is one of the things I love about the Csound community — active software development, on a number of fronts. (Remind me to tell you about Cabbage sometime.) Whether he will update the documentation, which pretty much stopped at version 0.4, I don’t yet know.
Not only is there likely to be a need for third-party documentation of blue, there’s also a fairly shocking paucity of Csound-related tutorial videos on YouTube. Andres has done some good CsoundQt videos, but Csound itself is sort of in a video dead zone. One individual has, to be sure, done a series of Csound video tutorials, but he neglected to zoom the screen in far enough that you can read the code he’s typing. That’s a pretty basic requirement, or so one would think. (He also misused the term “additive synthesis.”) Steven did a video demo of BlueLive, but … well, I couldn’t make heads or tails of the video.
I’m just thinking out loud here, but it appears I may have spotted a genuine need for the utilization of my alleged skill set.