DIY hardware is all the rage these days (see the Make:blog), but how about DIY software for music? An increasing number of free and commercial tools on every platform makes it possible to create wild, custom software configurations for real-time music and video without code — or cash. OS X Tiger users have access to Quartz Composer, which just got its own blog, and Mac, Linux, and Windows users have Pd.

So, are you ready to get started creating your own music software without programming? Check out this tutorial by my colleague Jim Aikin from O’Reilly, plus a massive tutorial/info section at the Pd community site:

DIY music software with Pd at O’Reilly Digital Media

Pd Intro wiki

Mac users again get a little edge here: you can create Aqua-friendly apps that connect to Pd using Paradiddle (which means you could easily use your soft gadgets in conjunction with Ableton Live or even Max/MSP), plus a nifty set of Linux/Mac image processing and motion tracking externals called PiDiP. Want more? Why, there’s even a tutorial in Japanese. And I think Jim will have some follow-ups at O’Reilly, so stay tuned.

With new releases of Max, Reaktor, and Flash, I look forward to an open source AND commercial DIY multimedia software bonanza. (Don’t forget the superb Max/MSP add-on Tap.Tools, covered earlier!) Where’s my Mountain Dew?

  • Guest

    You seem to have overlooked a couple of apps like Synthedit, and Synthmaker for PC, as well as SonicBirth for Mac. All of which allow for exporting to plug-in formats (VST for SE & SM, and AU for SB).

  • admin

    This was never meant to be a comprehensive list of freeware(!) Note the header: just Pd!

    Those are all good recommendations, though, of course.

    Pd is the one major tool that's open-source and cross-platform that has this much functionality.

    That said, we should have a master list of all useful DIY apps (leaving out the obscure ones). I was just focused on Pd.


  • Guest

    We also have a three-part SynthEdit series at the O’Reilly Digital Media site:

    Make Your Own Software Synth

    David Battino
    O’Reilly Digital Audio

  • Guest

    They're shareware!

  • luigi

    you can spend 3 hours for doing a silly beep, with pd. synthedit is a real, usable (and not unstable), musical environment.

  • Silly Beep

    Actually it takes about 60 seconds (including the time to launch the software) to hear a silly beep test tone in pd: osc~ 400 -> dac~. That's all 🙂