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LEONARDO MUSIC JOURNAL REVIEWS CD-ROM THE SONIC CD-ROM FOR DESKTOP AUDIO PRODUCTION: AN ELECTRONIC GUIDE TO PRODUCING COMPUTER AUDIO FOR MULTIMEDIA by Durand R. Begault. Academic Press Professional, 1996. $44.95. ISBN: 0-12084738 -8. CD-ROM requirements: Macintosh—System 7.0 or later; Windows —Windows 3.1 or later. Reviewed by Stephen Wihon, Conceptual/ Information Arts (CAI), San Francisco State Univ., SanFrandsco, CA 95132, U.S.A. Email : . This CD-ROM is a superb resource for anyone interested in the practice of producing computer-based audio. It is aimed primarily at beginners and intermediates , although evenjaded advanced practitioners might learn a tiling or two. The disc covers technical theory and practice of computer sound production. It also covers some aesthetics , although it focuses primarily on technical topics, including audio basics of frequency, pitch, intensity, spectra, noise and modulation; storage mic'ing and recording; sound authoring; digitization and editing; and effects. It also provides an interesting discussion of cutting-edge techniques such as 3-D Sound and auralization. The disc is an exemplar of a new genre that will hopefully become more prevalent. It is designed as a teaching/ learning environment, just as a textbook would be. But it takes unique advantage of the CD-ROM environment. Each topic is presented with text and illustrations . Each topic is also presented in glorious aural detail. Begault has worked hard to create clear audio exLEONARDO DlGrTAL REVIEWS Editor-in-Chief: Michael Punt CoordinatingEditor: Kasey Rios Asberry amples to illustrate many of the topics in the book. For example, any basic text in computer sound will deal with topics such as wave shapes, sampling rates or compression methods. The Sonic CDROM provides series of sounds that let the learner hear what is being taught— for example, the same pitch manifested in a square, triangle, or sine wave or the same sound recorded at various combinations of bit resolution and sampling rate or the same sound compressed with different methods. Everyone talks about the educational promise of multimedia. This disc begins to show what this could mean. In some sections the disc combines aesthetics and technical detail. For example , one section demonstrates the impact of different sound qualities on the meaning of text. The disc provides dynamic examples by having a narrator present the same text narration processed in different ways. The disc does have a few places it could be strengthened. The technical material could be quite overwhelming to a beginner. Begault has developed some helpful techniques such as color coding terms and image navigation conventions, but until the user understands these, the treatment could be overwhelming. I wondered if a special section for novices might have been beneficial. Also, the tech-art community is alive with cultural/aesthetic analysis of how new technologies fit into the larger picture. I would have liked to have seen some more attention by the author to these issues. Begault has a fascinating background . Most recently he has been a NASA researcher working on 3D sound and other cutting-edge technologies. He has both a Ph.D. from the University of California at San Diego and an M.F.A. from Mills College's (California ) eminent program in experimental sound. He has taught sound courses at both San Diego and San Francisco State University. I strongly recommend the disc for anyone who wants a comprehensive introduction to computer sound. Begault's diverse background has enabled him to create a valuable resource for a wide variety of learners. WEB SITE THE INTER-COMMUNICATION CENTER OF TOKYO,JAPAN URL: . Featuring a net gallery "Telematic Performance " by Paul Sermon. Reviewed by Axel Mulder, Graphics and Multimedia Research Lab. and Human Motor Systems Lab., School ofKinesiology, Simon Fräser University, Bumaby, B.C., V5A 1S6 Canada. E-mail: . This site, containing works from artists around the world, is available globally via WWW communication protocols, and locally in three venues equipped with terminals for Netscape, VRML and HotJava access. The opening screen of this site is very hard to read, mainly due to a bad choice of background that reminds me of a stereotypical Italian or French tablecloth littered with cut-out newspaper headings. As it turned out, I only...


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pp. 75-76
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