Last month we saw Sarah Angliss using the Theremin as an audiovisual controller. If you’ve got a Theremin and want to try this yourself — or try some other similar continuous input — here’s a really simple example of a patch that converts audio to MIDI. It uses Pd, Max/MSP’s open-source cousin for Mac, Windows, and Linux.

If you haven’t used Pd before, you should download pd-extended. It’s a stable, friendly installer for Pd with all the documentation and extras you’d need. Pd can be tricky to install, but this is friendly to just about anyone.
Pure Data Downloads (choose “most recent release” for the latest stable build of pd-extended)

In this case, Charles Martin, a percussionist from Australia, whipped up this simple patch and the fiddle~ object (which analyzes incoming pitch) to control effects in Ableton. Very cool stuff. He describes the patch and includes copy-and-paste code here, though I actually recommend going through the image above one step at a time and recreating it to better understand what it involves.

Theremin to MIDI Control program in Pd [Charles Martin Percussionist Blog]

  • al

    ive tried twice now downloading from here

    but twice its loaded a virus to my computer

    blade runner trojan virus

    id have liked to give pd a go aswell

  • @al: That sounds like a false positive, which the antivirus tools are notorious for.

    If you're downloading from pd-extended, you should be safe. But I can look into why it's triggering that error. Unfortunately, usually the only fix is to temporarily disable your antivirus program since it is incorrectly identifying a threat that's not there, then re-enable it once you're installed.

  • I think the program was slightly broken. I updated the blog post with a new version! Fun!

  • poopoo

    That's neat. More pd please peter!

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  • al

    cheers peter i may have to download it then

    and give it a try

    just a few questions

    can i use mp3s

    as id like to build some sort of mixing app

    for djing

    and how different is it to

    reaktor synthedit and bonnville cps

    i use all three but id like a program thats a mix of the three



  • al

    also would i need to download gem

    to make a gui screen

    knobs n faders wavforms of the tracks

    and other stuff

    and also can a project be saved

    to be used standalone

    ive played with a few max/msp apps

    just wondering if pd does the exact same

    sorry for all the questions

    but there appreciated



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  • @al :

    <cite>can i use mp3s

    as id like to build some sort of mixing app

    for djing</cite>

    this is just a a patch who give midi. You do whatever you want with the midi after.

    pd is just a low level, real time sound application, not something directly for mixing mp3, or to have a nice GUI. Download the pd-extended, not pd alone.

    <cite>and also can a project be saved

    to be used standalone</cite>

    I don't think so, but i'm not sure.

    Pd is not "exact same" as max, but the it's the same guy who build both, at the beginning.

    (but all this kind of stuff are more suitable in the forum, I think, sorry !)

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  • Miketron

    First time using Pd and I just got it up and running with Ableton. This is awesome, I'd like to see more.

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  • Does this require any knowledge of Pd to get working with VDMX? I am already up to my eyeballs in VDMX and QC and Processing, and I am really loathe to try and learn yet another platform.

    As an aside, I am friends with a band that uses the Theremin pretty extensively, and they are willing to hire a consultant to help them build out a VDMX setup that includes some theremin controlled visuals for a couple of the songs.

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  • oo

    once you have the pd patch how do you run it in ableton??

  • oo

    once you have the pd patch how do you run it in ableton??