[linux-audio-user] Synthesis Tools: What to use and how to use it?

Marije Baalman nescivi at gmail.com
Mon Mar 7 12:03:38 EST 2005


Michael Wagner wrote:

>So... what is the tool to use? I want to be able to do the synthesis techniques
>described in the before mentioned book, it should be controllable in realtime
>(at least for less resource-intensive patches). With "controllable" I mean,
>that one should be able to easily change important parameters, e.g. by
>assigning MIDI-controllers to them and changing these values over time either
>manually or letting a sequencing tool change them. It would be nice, if output
>via jack would be supported, so it can be integrated with other Software tools,
>as well as my hardware synth and drumcomputer.
>I'd be glad, if someone could help me out about my problem...
what's the right tool, really depends on what you want to do and what 
your preferred way of working is.
Pd is graphically oriented in its programming, which may be handy if 
you're visually oriented and don't mind drawing lines between boxes a lot.

If you prefer typing over moving the mouse, then it is better to use a 
text-based synthesis program.
SuperCollider is quite flexible, and not as horribly documented as a lot 
of people may tell. There are some really good tutorials around 
(especially the one by David Cottle (free "postcard"-ware, which means 
you have to send the author an email to ask for the tutorial as he likes 
to know where his tutorial is used and for what purposes), but also the 
one by Mark Polishook (included in the help files)) to learn 
SuperCollider and it has a kind of online-help system, as well as its 
own emaillist and forum.
With the SCUM-addons, you can also make your own GUI's for SuperCollider 
in a nice and easy way.
SC also runs with JACK, you can use MIDI and OSC to control it 
externally (or control something else externally).

I like SC as it gives possibilities to dynamically change a lot of 
things over time, and you can build really complex algorithms with it.
I am sure that in Pd a lot of the same things would be possible, but it 
needs a quite different kind of programming strategy to do so.

On the other hand, I think that for synthesis techniques, either program 
will do, and probably also some of the other ones available (CSound, 
AlsaModularSynth, Galan, ... ? ).

Maybe the best is to take a look at a couple of tutorials of some 
programs, then pick the one you like best, and delve further into that 
one to really learn it (probably best if you try to make a piece with 
it, as that is the best way to learn, I think).
and then, in the future, you can always go back and learn to use another 
program, if you feel that you are limited in one way or another by the 
one you had chosen before. After all, your musical way of working and 
thinking may change too over time :)


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