For all the wonderful tools and toys for sound out there, sometimes you want to find the couple of tools that, like a great kitchen knife, can accomplish the majority of what you actually need. (And as with the kitchen knife, while it may not eliminate your desire for all those other gadgets, it’s worth some sharpening.) So it is with something like Csound, the tested-and-tried, free synthesis tool. Jim Aikin looked at the QuteCsound front end recently, which puts the power of Csound in a more friendly work environment.

Via Synthtopia, there’s also now a screencast series that covers using QuteCsound, starting with digging into presets. (Yes, that’s right – presets. And here you thought you were going to have to do a lot of coding to have any fun.)

I find two YouTube users uploading how-to screencasts: (author of the series starting at top) (start with “Where to start?”

Also worth following is Jacob Joaquin’s excellent Csound Blog, hosted on Noisepages:
and on Twitter, follow @TheCsoundBlog

It’s very early in development (“alpha”), but Jacob is already doing amazing things integrating Processing, the non-coder-friendly, artist sketchbook-style coding language, with Csound, in a new library called Csoundo. That’s an ideal combination, because you can do logic and visuals quickly in Processing, then turn to Csound for audio. This is where I imagine work in two of Csound’s most popular rivals – the object-oriented, OSC-savvy SuperCollider and visual patching, Max-descendent Pure Data – may lead, as well. Check out Jacob’s roadmap for more.

By the way, I hear some folks are having some trouble building QuteCsound on Ubuntu, so I’ll see what the issue is, and write up some instructions and send them over to Jacob for his blog.

It’s a good time for Csound and free synthesis in general. With this work accelerating, I think doing a series of absolute-beginner tutorials will be very doable soon. And there’s no reason you can’t integrate a tool like this with your favorite host of choice, from Ableton to Cubase.