For those interested in coding their own audiovisual creations inside the artist-friendly language Processing, here’s an e-book that will help unlock the world of sound. Hot on the heels of my own workshop recently at Los Angeles’ Crash Space hackshop using our new Pd for Processing library, Evan X. Merz has an extensive ebook that works with sound and Processing.

And there’s no reason to be afraid. As the author says, “It’s aimed at Processing programmers who may think that true multimedia in Processing is too difficult for them. This book shows that it’s easy!”

What’s notable about it is that it’s really an introduction to the world of synthesis and effects processing as much as the specific code language here. Unlike our Pd library, you use code entirely both for graphics and sound. (Pd uses a graphical patching metaphor for sound.)

I am working on bringing the Pd for Processing library up to snuff for wider consumption and documenting how to use it, so stay tuned on that front. But I also love Beads – and some of the work we’re doing with audio APIs should soon benefit both, too. (Example: Beads should be able to make use of our JACK code.)

Free downloadable PDFs are available as well as for-fee print and Kindle editions that support the author.

A look at highlights from the table of contents:

Beads Basics (unit generators, gain, glide)
Synthesis (additive, modulation, FM, ring mod, envelopes)
Granular synthesis
Effects (delay, filters, panners, reverbs, compressors, wave shaping)
Saving and rendering
Audio input
MIDI (via The MIDI Bus library)
Analysis, FFT, frequency analysis, beat detection
Custom UGs

It’s really brilliant stuff in a very wonderful Java-based sound language. I’m excited to see this stuff expand. If you do pick up the book, definitely share your results and anything you build. And stay tuned for more on Processing and sound.

More information:
“Sonifying Processing: The Beads Tutorial” Introduces Sound Art Creation In Processing [Evan’s Computer Music Blog post]

Downloads – source code and PDF Kindle + print editions

  • Beautiful! This is going to help with the Kinect processing programs I've played with. I've done one music video with a Kinect but felt limited by some of the Processing scripts we were using.

  • oh wait…this is for Beads…still useful…since i use Reaktor and PD.

  • So Pd objects combined with Processing?  Is this the equivalent of Max MSP/Jitter?  I'm curious what the real difference would be.  My first guess is that processing requires more textual based programming, but not sure if elements of processing can be made more graphical object based.  

  • ehdyn

    Interesting, I just finished reading this book which also has some CC sample chapters available 

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    Relevant and engaging read overall

  • Thanks for bringing this to my attention; I've been taking baby steps with processing, and have been wondering "where's the audio"? 

  • MegaTonne

    Cool, thanks.

    Regend – curious, how can this be applied to Reaktor ?

  • To clarify, Beads is a pure Java library for realtime audio which can be used as a Java library or a Processing library. It is distinct from PD for Processing, and from Minim, which is the built-in Processing library. It is available from It can be used with Jack via the JJack audio IO (although this requires some fiddly configuration on the users behalf) and can be adapted to other contexts such as Android (ditto)…. and indeed it would be good to pursue potential shared resources with projects such as Peter's libpd stuff…. the more computer music projects out there the merrier.

  • I've just Simon Pegg know he's on the list, so you never know you might get a visit.