Stompbox Lab 0
Lab 0: Test Drive of Satellite CCRMA
Most instructions by Edgar Berdahl, and lab patches for musical interaction description by Matt Wright and possibly others
For this lab you need your Satellite CCRMA kit, a computer to program it, and some headphones with a mini 1/8" stereo jack.
- 1 The Satellite CCRMA Setup
- 2 Powering Up For The First Time
- 3 Connect To Satellite CCRMA
- 4 Avoid Powering Down the Board Without Halting it First!
- 5 Getting Comfortable With Satellite CCRMA
- 6 Starting Pd
- 7 Play Around With the Patches
- 8 Documentation
- 9 Short questions
- 10 Design a different musical interaction
- 11 The Community
- 12 Appendix: Troubleshooting
- 13 Optional: Programming Linux
- 14 Halt Your Board Properly When Finished!
- 15 Copying Files To and From Your Kit
- 16 More Pd resources
The Satellite CCRMA Setup
Included in your kit you should have
- Satellite CCRMA Hardware (Beagle Board + microSDHC memory card + Arduino Nano + solderless breadboard) - One 5V power adaptor to plug into the Beagle Board - One Behringer Guitar Link USB audio interface - One Ethernet cable for external communication
If you are missing something, please go get it before assembling your kit. Make sure you plug the micro SDHC memory card fully into its seat so that it looks as shown inside the red box:
Powering Up For The First Time
Plug the Ethernet port of the Satellite CCRMA into your laptop, and plug in the Behringer Guitar Link (not shown). Plug your headphones into the headphone output of the Behringer Guitar Link interface. Then plug in the 5V power supply into the Beagle as shown below. You should see some lights turn on, flickering every now and then. This means that Satellite CCRMA is booting up.
Connect To Satellite CCRMA
In order to see what your Satellite CCRMA kit is doing and program it, you need to log in to it. To do so, follow these instructions.
After you login, you will see the prompt ccrma@satellite:~$ This means that you are logged into a computer named "satellite" as the user "ccrma", and you are currently in the directory ~, which is the shortcut for your home directory.
Avoid Powering Down the Board Without Halting it First!
Would you take the battery out of your laptop and unplug its power adaptor without shutting down? I don't think so! The same goes for Satellite CCRMA, at least when you can avoid it, because it is a small computer running linux.
Now we will test the halt procedure. Run the halt command as superuser by typing sudo halt at the Satellite CCRMA prompt. Then you will again have to type in the password temppwd in order to have the privilege to run this command. Wait until about 15 seconds after you see the message "Connection to 192.168.105.106 closed by remote host," and then disconnect the 5V power adaptor from the Beagle Board.
Getting Comfortable With Satellite CCRMA
- Turn on Satellite CCRMA again using the same procedure as before where you plug the power into the Beagle Board. After about 30 seconds, the board should be booted up again, so you can log in again by running the command
ssh -XY firstname.lastname@example.org
- Your kit runs a default pd patch on startup, but right now we want to experiment with new pd patches. To stop the pd process running in the background (which you cannot observe), run the command
sudo pkill pd
and at the password prompt again type in the Satellite CCRMA password temppwd
- Start pd now with the following command, where we include & so that the terminal will keep running in the background:
- Choose Open from the File menu and select the patch ~/pd/pd_lecture/4_algorithmic_music.pd. In the main pd-extended window, click on the compute audio button. Then go back to the patch, move the speed and width sliders slightly to the right, and bring up the volume. You should now hear some sound in your headphones. Play around with the parameters to see what new sounds you can discover.
Troubleshooting: If you still do not here any sound, then probably you missed one of the steps so far. If you look at the messages in the main pd window, you might find a clue.
Play Around With the Patches
- Play around with the 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. (If you are using a Mac and don't have a right mouse button, then go to the X11 pull-down menu, select Preferences, and make sure that Emulate three button mouse is checked in the Input pane. Now, you should be able to right-click by clicking while holding down the Command key.)
- 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.
Design a different musical interaction
Here are some ideas of changes that might make the patch more interesting:
- Involve the keyboard using the [keyname] object
- 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 only 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. Optional: 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.
- Type dmesg to see if there are any relevant messages that look like error messages.
- Check if the Jack audio server has crashed. If so, then restart it.
- If you are running out of space on the SD card, you can free up some space by deleting items in /usr/src. For instance, all of the files needed for building Pure Data Extended are rather large.
- If you are unable to access the internet from Satellite CCRMA, and you are not at CCRMA, then you may need to change the DNS nameserver specified in /etc/resolv.conf You could do this using the set-DNS-server command.
Optional: Programming Linux
We don't actually expect you to do anything here, we are just providing some more information that is maybe helpful for you linux gurus. Since ccrma@satellite runs ubuntu linux on an OMAP chip, many standard software packages have been compiled for it. This is why we were easily able to install software such as Jack, Audacity, ChucK, Faust, Jacktrip, and the Arduino software.
If you are lucky, you can install your favorite software using the apt-get utility. To get a list of packages available on the OMAP's ARM architecture, type
sudo apt-cache pkgnames
You will notice that this list is way too long to look at. You can pipe it to the text file using the command
sudo apt-cache pkgnames > packages.txt
and then look at it using emacs packages.txt, or you search for a particular package, such as
sudo apt-cache pkgnames | grep emacs.
Or, you can compile linux software yourself on the Beagleboard. The gcc, g++ tools etc. are already installed.
Type the df command. You can see that there is not a whole lot more than 1GB available on the SD card, so you should only install software if you decide that you need it.
Halt Your Board Properly When Finished!
Remember to shut down your board when you are done before powering it off!
Copying Files To and From Your Kit
- Alternatively, if you would like to use software with a nice GUI for copying files back and forth from your kit, you can install additional special software on your laptop. For Windows, install Secure FX, or for Mac OS X, install Fetch. These programs actually use scp, but they hide the details of the pathnames from you.
More Pd resources
- Here are some lists of pd objects that you can use to discover new object names: http://protman.com/content/list-puredata-objects-and-extended-objects http://www.umatic.nl/workshop/objects.txt