If you're not picking up at page one and reading straight through to the end, you'll find that this book is designed with features to help navigate the breadth of topics covered.
You'll find an Essentials box at the beginning of each chapter that introduces the key terms and concepts in that chapter. If you find some of the topics overwhelming, check out the "Where to Start" note at the bottom of the Essentials box for a sense of what "step one" is.
Hands-on tutorials and tips in each chapter guide you and suggest when to put some of the concepts to practical use with the software demos and content included on the bundled DVD. For an overview of what's on the DVD, see the Appendix.
Of course, if you have your own tool of choice, you'll still find instructions and examples that apply to you. You'll also find additional cross-platform content on the DVD, including royalty-free audio loops and samples that you can use with other applications.
Because digital audio continues to evolve daily, you can check www.realworlddigitalaudio.com for updates to the book, links to current information and news, and other online resources and extras. The Web site also includes a series of Pro Files, which are interviews with leading musicians and technologists about digital audio.
Although this book isn't an academic book (and there are fine books that are), it is designed to be suitable for an introductory electronic music, computer music, or audio production class, particularly at the high school or undergraduate level. It is biased away from open -ended software like Csound, Reaktor, Max/MSP, and Pure Data, which are often emphasized in academic courses. But the sections on MIDI, synthesis, audio processing, and performance are all relevant to curricula that use those programs.
Trial software and saving files: With the exception of SoundSchool and the open-source program Audacity, the demo applications on the disc are incapable of saving work, though they can be used for learning purposes.
The modular nature of the chapters means that individual chapters can accompany units on those topics, particularly in the case of recording and audio processing, MIDI and synthesis, notation, or mixing and mastering.
Throughout this book you'll find numerous boxes and margin notes containing extra information. Each item is flagged with a handy symbol that indicates what type of information the item contains. Here are the symbols, and an explanation of what they mean:
The Clarify icon is used when the item provides an in-depth discussion of a concept that is explained briefly in the main text.
The Define icon is used when the item gives a basic definition of an important term or concept.
The DVD icon is used when the item points you to files or tutorial examples on the DVD that accompanies this book.
The Hands-on icon is used when the item provides a procedure that you can try on your computer.
The Tip icon is used when the item gives a suggestion that will save you time or make your workflow more efficient.
The Web icon is used when the item lists or describes on-line resources.