Computers And Music
Anyone involved in MIDI at a bits and bytes level is likely to know the name of Robert Penfold. Robert has, to date, written around 100 books, a number of which cover MIDI-related technology; all written from his uniquely practical viewpoint.
Computers And Music is intended to be an introductory book - a 'primer' as they like to refer to them on the other side of the Atlantic. On the computer side it gives a basic grounding on the terminology involved: ROM, RAM, disk storage etc. But by the third chapter, attention is turned to the magic 5-pin DIN ports which, I suspect, are of primary interest to readers of this magazine.
Actually, this is the second edition of the book, and as such, includes various updates to the original text - particularly on the fast moving computer side, which includes new information on the Atari MegaSTE, TT and Falcon, with special emphasis given to the PC. This is fair enough considering the growth of the market in this area, but does mean that the Apple Macintosh comes off as the poor relation. Bearing in mind the market penetration of Apple over the last year or so, it would have been useful to see details of models and MIDI interfaces similar to those given for the PC.
Returning to the MIDI side of things: this is well covered and illustrated, with individual chapters on the technical side of MIDI and music software which has been upgraded since the first edition. This is evident both in terms of new screen shots and mention of sequencer techniques which have been developed over the last couple of years - such as groove quantise.
The main shortcoming of the book is in the way that it's written. Like all technical books, it needs to be very down to earth if it is to be of use to the people who need it most, but should also have a certain sparkle. While the quality of English is good, Computers And Music does make for a rather dry read and as such, will probably end up the kind of book you'll dip in and out of for technical information rather than read cover to cover.
That said, it is an authoritative book in many areas, and contains first rate knowledge of those aspects of computing which have become the common currency of musicians through the widescale adoption of the MIDI standard.
Price : £8.95
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