Train Ride to Oly

March 18, 2011 10:06 PM

The second preview track to my upcoming album.

Source material recorded, chopped, and looped on an Amtrack train using a Nokia n900 running a custom audio app written in csound. Granulations of the source added later using a custom csound synth, and mixed using ardour.

posted by idiopath (3 comments total)

The train doesn't come here. It leaves you in Yelm. But I'd pick you up, because I like this.
posted by special agent conrad uno at 2:03 AM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think I was a bit drunk with that last comment. This is pretty awesome, and this has introduced me to the n900. Wow, what a pocket calculator! I've never done much work with csound - I've used supercollider and chuck - does csound allow you to compile for an independant application?
posted by special agent conrad uno at 10:18 AM on March 19, 2011

The n900 wasn't cheap, and there is no phone company that will subsidize one, but for me it was worth it. I got it specifically for the purpose of editing and running csound code, to not be stuck at my desk, or even at home, or even somewhere were I can sit down.

Csound has an API that allows it to be used as a library inside another app, and you could ship the dlls along with your app and use it as a backend for a minimal C program as a standalone. But it doesn't just compile to standalone native executable code like CLAM does.

I haven't tried making a standalone because personally I use csound the same way one would use supercollider or chuck, as kind of a DSP sketchbook. I would even consider using one of those except for the fact that csound uses so much less CPU and RAM which is a big deal on an embedded device like I am using. I am considering trying CLAM and wondering how the tradoff of csound being more or less an interpreter but implemented in C vs. CLAM being compiled but being C++ would work out. I probably wouldn't want to work on the code side of my projects on the n900 itself anymore if I went that route, g++ uses insane amounts of CPU and memory.

IIRC csound was the first program meant to run on personal computers to use midi data as input. Csound was originally more or less an audio compiler (source code goes in, sound files come out). The realtime stuff is only about a decade old (out of nearly three decades the program has been around). The syntax is somewhere between those of assembler/BASIC/Fortran, but under the hood it has the same architecture as supercollider, max, pd, MUSIC I-V, clm, CLAM, RTcmix, etc. You have unit generators, audio signals, control signals, lookup tables, and a special set of unit generators representing audio or midi i/o; you connect those things to one another in various ways, and they make noises.

Another point in csound's favor is the variety of built in unit generators. My version has 1418 (some of those are ones I wrote in c myself that are not part of the standard distro, on the other hand I don't compile a bunch of optional ones that the standard distro gives you either).
posted by idiopath at 2:39 PM on March 19, 2011

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