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I am diving into Csound in an effort to gain more control over the creation and manipulation of sound. It is comprehensive, to be sure, but its practitioners seem to be consumed with exploiting the unique capabilities of synthesized sound rather than creating music that has an emphasis on more traditional melody and/or harmony.

Is this a shortcoming of the language, making it exceedingly difficult to focus on these traditional aspects, or is it just that the composers who would choose to use a tool like this are more likely to prioritize other aspects of composition?

  • I find this interesting, but I'm afraid such questions are off-topic here. – leftaroundabout Mar 4 '18 at 20:39
  • @leftaroundabout How is it off-topic? – David Vogel Mar 4 '18 at 20:39
  • I find this interesting too, and though I know that such questions (requesting external resources as per music.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic) are off topic here, I wish this one wasn't - so +1 from me! – topo Reinstate Monica Mar 4 '18 at 20:40
  • Ah, I see. I will reword to avoid the transgression :) – David Vogel Mar 4 '18 at 20:42
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Is this a shortcoming of the language, making it exceedingly difficult to focus on these traditional aspects, or is it just that the composers who would choose to use a tool like this are more likely to prioritize other aspects of composition?

It's certainly not a fundamental limitation of the language - CSound and its instrument libraries allow traditional note-based pieces with any kind of melody and harmony you like. In fact one reason I avoid CSound is that it's still a little too traditional for my liking - in particular, the similarity that i-statements have with the traditional idea of a 'note' with a certain duration.

However, the lower-level a tool you choose, the more work you typically have to do yourself to get things sounding nice - and it may be fair to say that "out-of-the-box", Csound instruments don't tend to sound as obviously pretty as the best patches on a typical VST or hardware synthesizer - and the workflow might not be as immediately fun as mucking around with those.

I would also agree that the priorities of a composer who has come to CSound might be atypical. But IIRC it's a fairly simple thing to set up a couple of instrument sounds and get some 'proper tunes' going. There are plenty of alternatives though when it comes to coding languages though - sonic Pi is one that I recently saw demonstrated impressively.

  • Interesting that you find Csound too traditional! I see what you're saying with the i-statements. That's also why I'm interested in it--it has been around for a very long time and will likely not be abandoned, so I can rely on its longevity. – David Vogel Mar 4 '18 at 22:54
  • @DavidVogel it's definitely here to stay, I would think. Have you tried any of the frontends? – topo Reinstate Monica Mar 4 '18 at 23:24
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    Yes, I have been toying around with Cabbage. I like the in-app help. There are Python bindings to Csound, and since I am a programmer, I think I could put that to great use. My original question unfortunately was off-topic, but does anyone have any links to compositions that were created with Csound that are focused on melody and/or harmony instead of sound design? – David Vogel Mar 5 '18 at 0:02

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