Programming audio visually
Alex McLean is building a really cool new programming environment, described in a movie demo at Text update and source « Alex McLean. He’s building a programming environment for audio programming, like CMusic, CSound, or SuperCollider. In Alex’s system, you type the name of the oscillator or filter or generator, and typing the name generates the object. You then draw lines to connect the pieces.
I want to draw two connections from the theme of this blog to Alex’s work.
- Occasionally, I point to geeky-fun work from here, because it is worthwhile for us to think about interesting and challenging ideas about computing and programming (like Alex’s unusual mix of textual and graphical programming) as exemplars to show and provoke students.
- Computer music is this strange stepchild of computer science that is almost nonexistent in most curricula, for reasons I don’t quite understand. Making music with computers is really an old idea, and it’s super easy to do. The tools and languages around computer music have become more and more esoteric, which does it make harder. I still have never been able to write a working CSound program without essentially copy-pasting examples. I just can’t quite wrap my head around it. But the basic ideas are easy — I’ve played with sine wave generators in both Python and Squeak. Yet, so few of us teach it or use it for examples. Our computer audio class is always in danger of simply disappearing, because we can’t find anyone to teach it. Why should something so easy and fun to do get ignored in computing education?