Book Reviews

     All Phil Winsor's books have a common theme - the various mathematical algorithms (probability, filtering, shaping melodic lines, etc). One of the books provides C code, the others all provide BASIC code. He discusses such subjects as stochastic composition, development of melody via various mathematical functions, rhythm and harmony using mathematical functions, etc. He doesn't go into more advanced algorithms such as using Markov Chains, neural networks, or AI. His book, "Automated Music Composition" is intended for use with his MusicSculptor package in that the various programs create output files suitable for use with this software. It seems to me that all his books contain roughly the same information, so if you get his latest book "Automated Music Composition", you will have the gist of his previous books. I would say his books are more accessible than some of the more esoteric writings by MIT press. Winsor's books are loaded with code that actually works using whatever algorithm is being discussed. So I am not sure anything is to be gained by detailing each book separately. Winsor's books all cover the same material. "Computer Music in C" is the C language version of "The Computer Composer's Toolbox" which is in BASIC. "Automated Music Composition" is also in BASIC. But they all cover the same material, though "Automated Music Composition" provides more initial coverage of putting together a MIDI system and how his algorithms fit into the overall scheme of music making. It is as if one can see an evolutionary development of his ideas through the span of time over which he has written his books. By the way, if you have a PC and MPU-401 midi card, you will want to consider purchasing his MusicSculptor program and the book "Automated Music Composition". With these two pieces, you can freely explore algorithmic composition and get good results.

Tony R. Beltran