Usage Scenarios and Patterns


Most of the time I've found myself using the Sound SoundObject at the start of a project when I'm creating new sounds for a piece. I find it's good a prototyping tool, initially working with sounds on the scoreTimeCanvas (this is the name of java object that is the main score timeline area). Usually, when I write instruments in the Sound SoundObject, I define all of the i-time variables in a way that will facilitate easy conversion to full-fledged instruments should I later want to do so. This is a general instrument writing pattern of mine that I would do anyways even before I had blue to use. For example, I might be designing an sound on the timeline with the something like the following at the top of the text:

ipch   = cpspch(8.02)
iamp  = ampdb(80)
ispace  = .2

Later, when I get to a point after sketching out some sounds and finding I like how things are beginning to flow in the piece, I find that i usually want to start working with the sounds then as instruments. At this point, I normally convert the Sound SoundObject to a genericScore object (done by rt-clicking on the soundObject and picking "Convert to Generic Score" from the popup menu), which automatically takes the the instrument from the soundObject and adds it to the orchestra under the orchestra manager, and also leaves me with a single three p-field note, which also shows me what instrument number the instrument was assigned. After that I'll go to the orchestra manager and edit the instrument to now take in more p-fields, changing the top text to something like:

ipch   = cpspch(p4)
iamp  = ampdb(p5)
ispace  = p6

I usually find myself making two or three different sounds, then copying a bunch of them and changing a few parameters to try out things in time, then converting them into instruments. It's a nice separation to have the ability to work just with sounds at the start of a piece for me, as really, that's what I'm concerned with at the beginning of a piece, finding the sounds and initially sculpting the sound space that the piece will take on. After I find what I'm looking for, it's easy for me to convert all the sounds into instruments and then proceed from there.

Sound Design

Sometimes when you're wanting to just to build a single sound or texture, maybe to use as a sound effect in project, you might not really be thinking in terms of scores, notes, and instruments but rather in terms of sounds in time. In situations like this, the Sound SoundObject would be the first thing I would use, and might really be the only soundObject I would use. Notes, as a concept, somtimes really don't play a part of the musical model for a piece. It's not that you have all these instruments being played everywhere, but rather you have sounds going on here and there. It might seem like I'm being a little to theoretical here, but I really think it does play a part in the work process.

In the situations I've been in when I've been asked to make a sound for a friend's website or game, I've found it nice to fire up blue, set the timeline to a really close-up zoom on time, and just work from there to craft a sound. I would add a Sound SoundObject here and there, maybe use some global variables so I can make Sound SoundObjects that might just function as an lfo or other control instrument, moving things around just slightly around in time to sculpt the sound. An oscillator here, maybe blending it into an fm sound, throw in a noise generator with some formants and a notch filter sweep...

Learning and Practice

Sometimes I find myself just making sounds with blue and Csound. It might be because I'm just curious to try something out, I might be working on really getting to know a synthesis technique, trying to learn how to express a sound in my mind or maybe to better train my imagination to know what a sound will really sound like when I write it down, etc. Sometimes its just that I want to try out some new opcodes I haven't really ever used.

It's times like this when I find myself just using the Sound SoundObject, as I'm not interested in the note-instrument paradigm, it's the furthest thing from my mind. I'm focused on achieving a sound, or on experimenting to see what is the sound of instrument code I've just written. And I want the flexibility to add more sounds on the timeline: I don't want to break my concentration to go and think about numbering instruments, writing notes, moving the note around in time. I want to see and work with it all of it in one place., as that's what's going on in my mind.

It's also great practice too, just writing alot of instruments. I'd imagine that the Sound SoundObject would be a useful tool for a person new Csound, as it allows just working with instrument code. (Note: you would still need to know the basics of how Csound works, what is a CSD, and understand how things in blue map the different parts if itself to the different parts of a CSD file).