Software Lab 250
Lab 1: Making Music With Pd
Lab write-up due on Wednesday, September 29 at 5PM
(For the lab write-up, answer all the questions asked below, and include screenshots of your finished patches.)
After completing the lab, create a text-file answering questions from the lab, describing what you authored/modified and anything we need to know to test your patch. Put this file in your lab1 folder. Then zip up your lab1 folder and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please make the subject of the email "Lab 1 - yourlastname" so that it gets sorted properly upon receipt.
If you will use your own laptop, install Pd extended v0.41.4. Make sure that you install the extended version so that you have all of the objects that you need.
If you're running Pd using a desktop machine on the CCRMA network, make sure that you followed the instructions in this lecture for configuring Pd.
Download the Lab Patches to Your Home Directory
- Download the patches into your 250a directory and uncompress the archive: software_lab_pd.zip
Play Around With the Patches
- Open the patch labeled myinstrument. Play around with this patch. You should be able to exhaust its musical potential in a matter of minutes; reflect on its strengths and limitations.
- Also try to understand how it works as a piece of software. (But please don't get hung up on the arcana - as always, if you get stuck, ask for help rather than waste time.)
- Right-click or option-click on any object to get a contextual menu including "help," which opens that object's help patch.
- Right-click on a blank portion of a Pd patch. Now when you select "help" you get a list of Pd's built-in objects, arranged by category.
- In the upper right hand corner of each Pd window is a "help" menu. This accesses the Pd tutorials as well as some online reference documentation.
Why is the following patch a bad idea?
Make a patch that shows how to connect some objects together to calculate the function 1-x where x is an input number. Save the patch in a file called OneMinus.
- What happens when you hold down a key? The behavior may depend on what operating system you are running.
- Is the behavior desirable on your system? What operating system are you running?
Design a different musical interaction
Here are some ideas of changes that might make the patch more interesting:
- Involve more QWERTY keys
- Involve the mouse (see the [MouseState] object)
- Load in a larger collection of samples.
- Implement a mechanism to switch among banks of samples
- Multiple gestures to one result: design a way for the parameters of each triggered note to depend on multiple key presses. For example, maybe only the space bar triggers notes, and all the other keys determine parameters of notes.
- Make your patch automatically generate a bassline as a function of the key presses
- Set multiple parameters modally, as volume works in the sample patch
- Use chording: keep track of all the keys that are currently pressed, and use only that information to set the parameters for each note.
- One gesture to multiple results
- Use the "metro" object to trigger a steady stream of notes. Now you have two new parameters: repetition rate, and whether the metro is on or off.
- Use the "counter" object to step through a cycle (of samples, parameter settings, etc.)
- You could combine "metro" and "counter" to build a rudimentary sequencer that can step through a rhythmic pattern
- Invent a mechanism to record short sequences of keypresses and play them back in time.
- Incorporate looping or other interactive controls over the soundfile playback
- Use Pd's "spigot" object to route control information to different parts of your patch at different times
- Use some additional signal processing such as a filter, delay line, reverb, tremolo, etc. This gives you more parameters to control.
- Polyphony: make it so the patch can play multiple samples at the same time. (Hint: put multiple copies of "play-sample" in your patch)
- Use a totally different form of sound synthesis, such as FM, granular, or physical modeling.
We recommend that you pick one or a small number of these and work on it in depth, iterating on both the program/test/debug cycle as well as the design/implement/play cycle to craft something that has actual musical potential or is at least more fun to play. If you have an existing idea for your class project, you could use this lab to start thinking about implementing some of the modes and mappings. By all means, if you're inspired to try something else, go for it. If you'd rather spend today getting more of a broad sense of Pd's capabilities, feel free to work on many of these suggestions.
There is a large, dedicated, and very generous community of Pd users on the Internet. Do some web searching (e.g., with a search engine, or else starting from some more specific resources) and look for interesting externals and/or patches. Download, install, and play with at least one. Can you incorporate it into what you programmed in the previous part?
For more help in finding resources, don't forget to look on the PID Links page.