[linux-audio-user] Re: theatre sound in linux

philicorda philicorda at ntlworld.com
Mon May 16 19:45:06 EDT 2005

From: Spencer Russell <Spencer.Russell at oberlin.edu>

Sorry for the late reply. I have read the responses! Some interesting
leads! Postfish looks interesting if I could get it to compile. :))

> On Thu, May 05, 2005 at 10:19:13PM +0000, philicorda wrote:
> > Hi.
> > I was just wondering whether there are any open source applications on
> > Linux for doing theatre sound for plays and dance, or if anyone else is
> > interested in collaborating on making one or has experience with this
> > kind of thing.
> > 
> I'm starting to get more gigs doing theatre sound design, and
> it's looking like I'm going to start designing some custom PD
> patches to do what I need, so I'll be happy to share what I come
> up with. Are you on the pd-list?

Not yet, I will join now.

> > I can't code, but have a some experience with PD, which may do the job
> > with a custom gui.
> > 
> > Personally, my requirements are...
> > The concept of 'scenes' that can be stepped through, like a lighting
> > desk.
> > 
> This is something that I'm probably not going to have time for on
> my current project, but it's something that i can definently see
> getting done this summer.
> > 
> > The ability for fast forward and rewind within a scene. Mainly for
> > rehearsal reasons.
> > 
> What exactly would your ideal "scene" consist of? 

At the moment, the backing tracks (about 5 channels) which just play,
and few triggarable samples. The way of getting from one scene to
another is different for each scene too. Some crossfade, others I catch
a sound in a reverb, and cue the next track as it dies away.

Part of the problem with this kind of stuff, as I'm sure you know, is
that the stage action for the next cue does not often fall in a
musically useful place. Hence the messing about with crossfades etc.

> My current
> setup involves some sounds that continuously repeat(usually
> several source sounds arranged differently into one continuous
> ambient sound) and some sound effects that I load onto my sampler
> and trigger from the buttons on that. Right now I've been putting
> the background ambience on CDs and letting it play, but I'm going
> to need a more flexible setup, which I've got some ideas on
> implementation in PD.

I've been doing ambient loops just by copy and pasting a loop to make a
long track, then playing the whole lot in the same way. Real looping
would be nicer as a few abstract loops could be out of sync which would
break any audible repitition.

> > The ability to switch from scene to scene instantly, or to have preset
> > or manual crossfades. (Often you are following cues from the
> > performers.)
> > 
> > It has to be bomb proof and have a simple gui even a lampie can
> > understand.
> > 
> PD GUIs aren't usually that pretty, but they can be made as
> simple as the designer can make them.

Simple is good. I think it's perfectly possible to make a useful gui in
pd for this kind of thing.

> > Midi control of scene switching and manual crossfades.
> This should be easy in PD
> > 
> > The ability to set volume levels for each scene.
> > 
> > The ability to change the order and add new tracks without too much
> > pain.
> > 
> One of PD's weaknesses is saving its state, which would be
> critical in this sort of application. There's some work being
> done to change this, but for the immediate future I'll probably
> be creating patches that are pretty specific to individual
> shows(although I'm sure I'll come up with some very handy and
> reusable abstractions). At some point I'd like to get back into
> coding, and this is the sort of project that I would really like
> to work on, and seems like a lot of people could use it. For now,
> though, I think I'll hack together some PD patches, and keep you
> posted.

I end up usually with loads of bangs attached to number boxes for the
initial space. I have seen pd patches where all the data is in files and
is loaded and parsed on the load bang, but it looked kinda complicated.

Perhaps the whole thing could be broken down into pd patches. A scene
backing player, a triggarable sampler, a programmable cross fader.
Then you could assemble the ones you need for each scene. The difficulty
is as you say in saving the state and seamless transitions between each
collection of modules.

> Spencer

More information about the Linux-audio-user mailing list