Book Review: Electronic Music and Sound Design Vols. 1 & 2 – the iBooks edition


    Alessandro Cipriani & Maurizio Giri (one of the most active Max-focused writing units around), introduced the first volume of their ‘Electronic Music and Sound Design’ series a few years ago - first in Italian, and then English translations by David Stutz, followed a bit later by a second volume. Both of these books that were published in real-world paper form by Contemponet. But about a year ago, they created what I think is a masterpiece: iBook-formatted versions of Electronic Music and Sound Design Vol. 1 and Electronic Music and Sound Design Vol. 2, complete with embedded sound and video that pushes the definition of media tool training.
    This iBook version covers all of the material from volumes one and two of the original paper books – which is to say: it covers audio processing basics, and Max as a music-making, audio-generating system from beginner level to a very advanced level. It covers basic programming techniques, compositional concepts and audio object use. If you are a serious musician that wants to attack Max, these books will get you there.
    Viewing the book on an iPad is pretty interesting – while it only supports landscape mode, the font is really clear and readable, and I didn’t really have any problems working with the text. The illustrations are impeccable; in some ways, it seems clearer to me than the printed version!
    About the only thing that I missed was an overview Table of Contents. The iBooks format segments the TOC in a way that wasn’t as useful for browsing the book’s breadth.
    The reason that I missed the table of contents is connected to the book’s strengths, hovever. One of the things that I appreciate about this book is the depth of its coverage. Rather than providing glossy overviews of concepts, it provides depth and detail on the theory, patching and resulting output of the material it covers. While this means that the book is going to require some time and careful attention to get the most out of it, you can gain significant expertise by following along with the authors’ approach - it repays your attention.
    And there’s also the question of size. Since this is a digital book, it’s perfect for traveling by virtue of being “bigger on the inside” - it takes up no more space than the iPad it lives on. The ability to have this book, my OpenGL reference library and a couple of other books at my fingertips no matter where I find myself while on the road is awesome.
    But the real winner here is the interactive material. Having audio playback makes some of the examples come alive, and the video material provides information that would take hundreds of words to otherwise explain. Writing a book about media art process is always difficult - you don’t have the ability to say “It sounds like this…” with paper books, but Cipriani and Giri take full advantage of the iBook format to do exactly that.
    If you are interested in music and sound design, you will find an endless fount of information in this book. I’ve been doing this sort of work for a decade-and-a-half, and I still spend time with this book to give me ideas or remind me of techniques I’d long forgotten. On the other hand, it is specific to music and audio - you’ll have to look elsewhere for enlightenment on video processing, OpenGL programming or Gen development. That said, if you are into audio, music, generative sound systems or the like, you’ll almost certainly find something here that will tickle your fancy.

    • Nov 11 2015 | 6:43 pm
      I loved reading the books. Now I have an excuse to do it again! Great work.
    • Nov 11 2015 | 8:19 pm
      have these been updated for Max 7 yet? i've been holding off on purchasing until then...
    • Nov 11 2015 | 9:58 pm
      No, they haven't - but the sheer amount of the data in both volumes in comparison to the infinitesimally small amount of stuff that changed in terms of the functionality of 6 vs. 7 is such that waiting seems silly. Your mileage may vary, of course.
    • Nov 11 2015 | 10:00 pm
      good point. do you (or anyone else) know if you get free updates to books purchased through iBooks?
    • Nov 11 2015 | 10:50 pm
      Sorry, no.
    • Nov 12 2015 | 1:53 pm
      I was also interested in buying the books but was holding off until an updated version for Max 7 came out. I hit up Maurizio on Facebook and he mentioned it should be available in a few months.
      I'd probably also buy the iBook version if it came with updates. Will have to look into that.
    • Nov 12 2015 | 2:40 pm
      Hi, thanks for your interest. Here is the situation: - In a few months there will be a Max7 version of the Vol I (both ebook and paper book). - The owners of the Max 6 ebook will get a free update with an appendix for Max7 - The owners of the Max 6 paper book will get the same appendix in PDF format (also for free, of course)
    • Nov 12 2015 | 3:42 pm
      That's great news - thanks, Maurizio. And since you'll get a free update, you now have no excuse for sitting down and tearing into this magnificent awesomeness. I can nearly guarantee that a little quality time here will also translate into being able to ask waaaaay better Max questions on the Forum, too. :-)
    • Nov 13 2015 | 12:37 am
      iBooks work very well on the iPad, as mentioned in the review, but they can also viewed directly on your mac, which is great for working on Max at the same time you are following the text.
      l
    • Nov 13 2015 | 7:07 am
      Sorry for being picky, but will the Max 7 version and the update with appendix be the same version, or separate? I'm considering buying the book now and if they are separate editions, I would probably just wait. Thanks!
    • Nov 13 2015 | 10:09 am
      Both of the printed versions are excellent books.
      What about a discount for people who have bought both hard copies?
    • Nov 13 2015 | 12:08 pm
      They will be two different version: there are many people still using Max6. As I said as soon as the Max 7 version is available, there will be an update for the Max 6 version, an appendix containing the differences between Max 6 and 7.
    • Nov 16 2015 | 3:11 pm
      Hello, Thank you for the excellent books. How would the owners of the previous hardcopies get the updated PDF?
    • Nov 18 2015 | 7:17 am
      At the beginning of the book series, it was said that there will be 3 volumes (as I rememeber, one every year). The second one came with some delay. Since then, I have never heard something of the third volume. Are there some plans or news? I'm asking because I really love the first two books.
    • Nov 18 2015 | 10:33 am
      Hi GEDV, the updated PDF will be available on the support page (as soon as it is ready, i.e. in a few months). JOGHURT, we are working on the third volume, but it will take time.
    • Nov 23 2015 | 7:14 pm
      Hi there, I just recently ordered Emasd Vol 1&2 from Amazon UK- received Volume 1 in the Saturday delivery and Volume 2 shall arrive in the next week or so.
      Fantastic I am loving Vol 1 thus far, have been planning to buy these for years and finally got around to doing so and recommend others interested to give it a go.
      Unfortunately I am having problems playing the .wav files back from the:- "Interactive Examples" the .mxf (max collective)
      I can open up 1A Frequency and 1B Amplitude but 1C Timbre specifically unable to playback .wav files on my laptop strangely enough and the corresponding error message is throwing up in the max console.
      Similar behaviour across max 7 32&64bit, max 6 (not tested x64 bit, only x32) and 5.
      I have uninstalled Quicktime, reinstalled, rebooted laptop many times, downloaded latest qt for windows, java just recently updated etc...
      Am on Windows 10 and wondering if perhaps this is the conflict.
      Has/is anyone else experienced/experiencing this or know a workaround? Would be delighted if anyone can help in any way. Many thanks.
    • Nov 23 2015 | 7:54 pm
      Hello, Where can you buy these ibooks by Cipriani and Giri? I looked at amazon and could not find them... Thanks for replying. Ant
    • Nov 23 2015 | 8:30 pm
      Hi Ant I think the ibooks for these volumes are only available from the apple store- links for those are in OP first paragraph.
      The link, (UK) above is for the paperback version, which was what I ordered being on Windows and I like books to hand. I was just having problems with the support materials running on Windows 10 that accompany the book, which you download separately.
      Perhaps I should have said this in my original post, apologies if this confuse anyone.
      Best
    • Jan 24 2016 | 4:33 pm
      Does anyone know where I'd find the support files if I buy the iBook? I can't seem to find them on the virtual sound site, the "support" links next to each book aren't working.
      So hopefully I'm looking in the wrong spot
      Thanks
    • Jan 24 2016 | 7:34 pm
      The links are in the book, in the introduction I think. They work. I used them a couple of days ago actually. I also have the iBooks version and I think it's easily the best Max resource I've ever read.