This is not a book that introduces and uses signal processing concepts for the sake of itself. Instead, the goal of the book is to create sounds, learn the tools and theory behind creating such sounds, and grasp the essentials of many sophisticated physical modeling concepts in particular. The book is quite thin, but don't let this fool you. The author chose to leave out quite a few details so that this did not turn into another 1000 page treatise on computer music. Thus some basic topics in signals, systems, and filter design are not fleshed out to their fullest extent. To this end, the book has an extensive reference section so that if you are unfamiliar with a particular physics or DSP topic, you can research it yourself.
Chapter 1 briefly establishing the fundamentals of digital audio, and includes an introduction to the basics of quantization, compression, and Pulse-Code Modulation (PCM) sampling. Chapter 2 investigates sound synthesis starting with wavetable synthesis. In chapter 3, digital filters are introduced. Included is a concise but clear introduction to Linear Time Invariant (LTI) systems, convolution, Finite Impulse Response (FIR) filters, Infinite Impulse Response (IIR) filters, and Z transforms. The chapter culminates in an introduction to the BiQuad filter.
Chapter 4, which deals with modal synthesis, acts as a stepping-stone to the frequency domain, leading to chapter 5's discussion of the Fourier Transform. This chapter examines Discrete Fourier Transform (DFT), fast convolution, and Short Time Fourier Transform (STFT), and ends with examples of applications.
Chapters 6, 7, and 8 delve deeper into synthesis/analysis concepts such as Linear Predictive Coding (LPC), spectral modeling, additive/subtractive synthesis, noise signals, and inharmonicity, using the frequency domain techniques learned in previous chapters. You'll hardly turn a page without an accompanying picture or block diagram, a particularly valuable feature of this book.
Chapter 9 explores the physical modeling concepts of string vibrations and stiff bars. Modeling algorithms are introduced using basic physics perspectives centered around the familiar string, mass, and damper paradigms first introduced in chapter 4. Here again, rather than bombarding the reader with tons of equations, Mr. Cook explains ideas mainly through diagrams, sound examples, and block diagrams, which is very helpful for the software implementation of algorithms. The ready-to-compile C++ code for this section included on the CD-ROM provide models of a plucked string (Plucked.cpp), a mandolin (Mandolin.cpp), and a bowed string (Bowed.cpp).
In Chapter 11, Tubes and Air Cavities, the author introduces more models while leaving detailed mathematical derivations of equations for the appendix. He concludes chapter 11 with "Building and Blowing a Bottle Model", and includes code and sound examples, as usual. Going into chapter 12, more complex, higher dimensional models are introduced, with the traditional mass-spring model in the context of a meshed membrane starting off the chapter.
Chapter 13 introduces modeling and synthesizing particle interaction. Some of the topics covered include Formant Wave Functions (FOFs) for voice synthesis, single particle models, multi-particle systems, and statistical multi-particle systems such as a simple maraca model, implemented in less than 30 lines of C code with an accompanying block diagram.
Chapter 14 deals with the subtleties of exciting and controlling sound models. For example, Mr. Cook discusses the differences between exciting a string with a plectrum as opposed to using the fleshy part of the thumb. He also shows some fascinating effects of the striking conditions of the Tibetan prayer bowl, which exhibits very different spectra as a function of strike-direction while keeping strike-point constant. Other topics discussed include bowing, scraping, and frictional issues in synthesis. MIDI, OSC (Open Sound Control), and other standards for sound and multimedia control are also briefly examined.
Chapter 15 walks the reader through a complete system called PhOLISE (Physically Oriented Library of Interactive Sound Effects) that could possibly be applied to areas such as gaming, animation, and sound effects in film production. The five sections of the appendix go into greater detail regarding proofs, derivations, and properties of topics such as DFT properties, zero-padding, proof of fast convolution, and ideal string behaviors.
After you grasp the contents of this book, you might want to read "The Physics of Musical Instruments" and use some of Mr. Cook's techniques to synthesize the numerical models explained in that book.