|Vol. 28 Issue 1 Reviews||Reviews > Publications >|
|Dave Phillips: Linux Music and Sound|
No Starch Press, 2000, ISBN 1-886411-34-4, softcover with CD-ROM, 408 pages, illustrated, US$ 39.95; available from No Starch Press, 555 De Haro Street, Suite 250, San Francisco, California 94107, USA; telephone (+1) 415-863-9900; fax (+1) 415-863-9950; electronic mail firstname.lastname@example.org; World Wide Web www.nostarch.com/lms.htm
Reviewed by Linda Seltzer
In the past 20 years, the price of a computer has been reduced so dramatically that it is now often exceeded by the price of commercial software. Independent developers for Linux systems have responded to this problem by offering the home user or university lab a host of free applications useful for professional work in a variety of scientific fields.
Computer music is no exception, and Dave Phillips' book, Linux Music and Sound, provides the musician with an invaluable catalog and instruction manual in which the musical applications that run on Linux are introduced, by subject, in a well-organized manner. The software discussed in the book is provided on the CD-ROM accompanying the book. It should be noted that since the book is vintage 2000, the Sound & MIDI Software For Linux Web site (linux-sound.org), maintained by Mr. Phillips, is a good source of information about more recent freeware offerings.
One should be cautioned that this book is meant for the initiates; it is not a tutorial for the novice. Also, the book focuses on software and not on hardware and interfaces, so one won't find here the details about voltage levels for the sound output of the computer and the required levels for amplification and mixing equipment, or instructions on how to set up the computer to acquire instrumental sounds in real time. The reader with a good knowledge of UNIX system administration will have no trouble understanding Chapter 2, "Setting Up Your System," but the composer who is a casual UNIX user will find this chapter daunting, especially when encountering directives such as "Consult your card's documentation for default I/O address, IRQ [interrupt request] numbers, DMA [direct memory access] channels, and other settings."
user untrained in UNIX system administration can make use of the
subsequent chapters (3-15), assuming one has a Linux system already
set up with audio drivers and peripherals. These chapters present
information on the functions and Web site locations of applications
including composition tools, sound editors, mixers, MIDI programs,
MP3 audio compression and media players, hard disk recording, sound
processing, synthesis, music notation, network audio (including broadcast),
and telephone speech (VoIP, Voice over Internet Protocol), and games.
Linux development has been a growing field during the past two years, culminating in the use of parallel configurations of Linux boxes for large-scale scientific computing. It is hoped that the flurry of Linux development at present will result in more software innovations for music. For composition, one goal would be a user interface supporting the freedom for the composer to represent graphically one's individual compositional model and processes. Additional future directions may include real-time interfaces, ease of use, ease of installation and minimal system administration, spatial audio, and virtual reality.