There are a lot of ways to make music with a computer… and the computer doesn’t even need to be all that powerful. You can even use synthesizer software to play tunes on a $5 Raspberry Pi Zero (although you’ll obviously need to spend a few bucks on speakers, a display, a mouse, and a keyboard).

I’ve been thinking a lot about ways to generate music digitally, ever since I decided that my acoustic guitar wasn’t going to be much help in writing a theme for the LPX Show.

So far, I’ve mostly been using mobile sequencer apps, because making patterns on a touch screen just feels right. But you can also make music by writing words… or rather, lines of code.

sonic pi

Sonic Pi is an open source “live coding” synth that’s available for the Raspberry Pi (and other Linux-based operating systems), OS X, and Windows.

It’s been around for a little while, but I just discovered it today, installed it, and started following the tutorials to learn how to create a drum track, play tones, alter the sound of those tones, introduce samples, and… next thing I knew it was nearly 2 hours later.

In other words, it’s a lot of fun… and while it probably helps if you have a basic understanding of music composition, you can learn a lot just by playing around with the code samples included in the program… or the samples from the Sonic Pi website or other locations.

Personally I know a little bit about music, but very little about coding. So for me, Sonic Pi also serves as sort of introductory course in entering a series of commands, correcting your mistakes, and experiencing the output in a nearly real-time fashion.

Speaking of real-time, the reason Sonic Pi is considered a “live coding” synthesizer is that you can make changes to a song while it’s playing to introduce an element of live performance.

via Hacker News

 



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