n900 improv

December 5, 2010 9:18 PM

An improvisation on an instrument programmed using the csound DSL for audio synthesis, running in real time on a nokia n900 smart phone.

Sound sources are frequency modulation, sine tones, algorithmic event generation, a couple of delay loops. No editing or filtering has been applied, what you hear is the sound that was saved directly within the csound program in real time.

posted by idiopath (4 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Is there something about the n900 that makes it suitable as an instrument, or was it just the nearest smartphone available, so to speak?
posted by Kattullus at 2:48 AM on December 6, 2010

It runs standard Debian Linux (inside a chroot environment, though Maemo itself is derived from Debian, which is what makes it so straightforward to set up a standard Debian environment inside it).

Debian is where I learned to use a computer, and where I learned to do software synthesis, and where I learned to program, so getting a device that ran Debian was a no brainer for me.

With all that said, csound is a very portable tool, and could definitely run on a Blackberry or Droid or Windows Mobile device or an Iphone etc. The difference is that you would have to do the porting yourself (the hard part likely being the porting of the GUI widget opcodes - the N900 uses X11, so zero porting of those tools needed to be done).
posted by idiopath at 11:28 AM on December 6, 2010

So yeah, pretty much I bought the N900 with the plans of using it as a synthesizer that goes in my pocket, and after a bunch of oh-so-typical-for-Linux exploring and tinkering and trial and error and reading man pages I finally got a decent system set up where I can start cranking out synthesizers and learning to play them.

I don't even have a voice or data plan on the thing, I use it with wifi to browse the web and check email and jabber and have evopedia downloaded so I can look things up when I randomly get curious about the world, and I use it to listen to flacs and mp3s and take pictures and videos and manage my todo list (shit, now that I list it all, what do people do when they don't own one of these things?).

But really I got the thing primarily to make music on.
posted by idiopath at 11:36 AM on December 6, 2010

Hmmm... I may be able to get a cheap N900... I'll have to think about it.
posted by Kattullus at 3:32 PM on December 6, 2010

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