Welcome! In this course we’re going to learn how to create custom music software using the open source audio programming language, Pure Data. Along the way we will learn some music fundamentals, a bit about the science of sound, and gain some insight into computer programming as we explore how music and technology interact.
(This course is chromebook compatible. Recommended Ages: 14 -18)
We will begin with an introduction to what creative coding and Pure Data is. Then we will go over how to download the free software and then learn the basics of how Pure Data works by building a simple tone generator. After that, we will jump into 10 lessons that will show a new aspect of working with Pure Data to create sound and music.
Lesson 1: Building A Simple Sequencer
In this lesson we will build a program in Pure Data that can play a sequence of notes in a loop in the C Major Scale. We will learn how to build this patch from a blank canvas. Along the way we will learn what a sine wave is, what an oscillator is, what frequency is and how it relates to sound.
Lesson 2: Programming A Wavetable Synth Patch
In this lesson we will work with a Pure Data Wavetable patch. We will learn a bit about what wavetable synthesis is, examine the components of the patch, edit the objects in the patch to manipulate how it works and to create sounds and melodies that we find fascinating.
Lesson 3: Programming a String Synth Patch
In this lesson we will work with a string synth patch. We will examine how it works, learn what MIDI is and how it’s used in Pure Data, learn how to program MIDI notes and other MIDI parameters to manipulate the string synth instrument to play as we desire.
Lesson 4: Working With A Granular Synthesis Patch
In this lesson we will learn what granular synthesis is and start manipulating audio samples using a granular synth patch in Pure Data. Through breaking down sounds into very small segments called grains we will be able to create beautiful and strange soundscapes.
Lesson 5: Using Automatonism – Playing A Simple Subtractive Synth
In this lesson we will download Automatonism, a modular synth system made for Pure Data. Then we will learn a bit about subtractive synthesis. We will discover how the different components in the synth work together to create a playable instrument. We will also have time for experimentation with the synth to make interesting sounds and music.
Lesson 6: Using Automatonism – A Modular Synth Built With Pure Data
In this lesson we will use Automatonism, a modular synth system to learn a bit about modular synths. Then, we will patch together the components to build a functioning modular synth and have fun playing it. We will also have time for experimentation with the many other modules in the Automatonism Library.
Lesson 7: Using The Automatonism: Building A Drum Machine
In this lesson we will use Automatonism, a modular synth system made for Pure Data to build a drum machine. We will learn a bit about modular synths and how each module in the system works together to create a functioning drum machine. We will have time to play with our patch to create interesting electronic rhythms. Don’t be surprised if you start dancing to your beats!
Lesson 8: Additive Synthesis: Building Sounds With Sine Waves
In this lesson we will get into sound design! We will learn about what oscillators and sine waves are, what additive synthesis is, and then build an additive synth of our own in Pure Data to create rich and interesting sounds.
Lesson 9: Getting Inspired By Computer Music
In this lesson we will learn about some of the world’s most prominent computer musicians and their work. We will take a look at their process to gain an understanding of the power and potential of making music with computers. Some of the artists we will learn about are Holly Herndon, Mark Fell, Rian Treanor, Autechre, and others. Through examining their work we will feel inspired to dig deeper into the world of computer music.
Lesson 10: Finding Resources and Community in the World of Computer Music
In this lesson we discuss where to find free Pure Data patches and lessons for further learning. We will talk about the culture of open source communities and how to start making connections in that world to share knowledge and collaborate on projects.