“Sure, the OLPC project is supposed to do wonderful things for children of the world, but what has it done for me, lately?” Well, if you fancy yourself one of the Earth’s children, the OLPC organization has assembled 8.5 gigabytes of sample content that’s free and Creative Commons-licensed — free to acquire, and free to use.
Jacob Joaquin, who runs the terrific thumbuki blog and the Csound Blog and is part ofthe team developing Csound for the OLPC’s XO laptop, shares the news via Dr. Richard Boulanger at Berklee. (See the press release as a zipped .doc.)
Plenty of people contributed top-notch sound: the Berklee College of Music, Csound developers around the world, electronica celebrity BT (himself a former Berklee and Boulanger student, among other alums), M-Audio and Digidesign, and the Open Path Music Group.
They’re donated under a Creative Commons Attribution license, so you can “freely create, compose, mix, remix, share, distribute and redistribute these samples and use them for any purpose as long as you clearly attribute the source.” That means anyone, anywhere can make use of this library — no OLPC required.
Csound, OLPC Style
Whether you like the OLPC laptop itself or not, there’s plenty going on with the project. There’s the immediate impact of the hardware and software, yes — and plenty of opportunity to praise or criticize its utility there (perhaps the mark of a good, ambitious project). But there’s also the secondary impact. The OLPC has captured imaginations in terms of what future computers might be, and what they might mean to more of the population of the planet. More importantly, perhaps, it’s building a family of open source, Linux-based (and cross platform technology-based) tools, which could ultimately outlive the hardware platform. I have my own doubts about the OLPC itself, but the ideas for open sound making are about more than just that hardware. (For instance, just testing Processing, Arduino and Java on this kind of mobile platform can improve that software.)
The sample library is only part of the story; software tools is another part. Powered by Csound, the OLPC team wants to put sound synthesis and music production in the hands of kids — we’re talking serious digital synthesis here, not just GarageBand-style looping. That goal could ultimately go well beyond just the OLPC.
Csound is a free and open source development tool for sound design, synthesis, and signal processing, with a lineage that goes back to original developer Barry Vercoe and in turn descended from the first digital synthesis tools created by Max Mathews. It is the audio/music development system for the OLPC project, with integration with Python (though I’ve heard we should also see additional Java development).
Those geeky details aside, you’ll see in many of the reviews of the OLPC writers mentioning unusual and fun music toys. Those journalists are stumbling upon some of the projects below, and the process is just getting started.
Jacob had shared some brief looks at what he’s working on on his OLPC, but here’s the full overview from Dr. Boulanger, because there’s quite a lot happening:
Over these past two months the CsoundXO Developers – especially John ffitch, Victor Lazzarini, Andres Cabrera, Jacob Joaquin, Cesare Marilungo, and Greg Thompson have really pushed out some new and important tools and activities for the XO. Links to some of these are below.
A most important result of this development initiative is the fact that John and Victor got the CsoundXO subset of Csound5 to be FULLY SYNCHRONIZED and TOTALLY COMPATIBLE with the current release of Public Csound (and automated the process so that they will ALWAYS be in sync!) and Andres has a CsoundXO manual that is fully synchronized as well!!!!!
+ Links to the Csound Activities, the new RPM!, the developer tools
(by Victor), and the toots.
+ Victor Lazzarini’s AMAZING new GUI TOOLKIT for Csound Activity
Development on the XO
+ Victor has developed a wonderful small collection of tutorial
activities with sliders and buttons controlling CsoundXO
– waves – a simple additive synth
– synth – a subtractive synth with USB keyboard control
– playfiles – an 8 track remixer with record capability
– GMplayer – an iterface and instrument for loading and playing any GM file with Csound – using the Avid/M-Audio donated Sample Set
+ Jacob Joaquin’s new Activities developed with Victor’s Toolkit and
his blog and tutorials about the process.
* coming soon (within the next two weeks) by Greg Thompson
– CsoundEditor/Launcher – with virtual MIDI piano keyboard and CsoundXO manual integrations
+ including ALL the Boulanger Tutorials – TOOTS, Csound Book Chapter
1, Mastering Csound, Scanned Synthesis
+ including thousands of instruments and models from The Csound
Catalog plus dozens of compositions and MIDI instruments,
– CsoundRemixer – for jamming with the OLPCsound Sample Archive (and adding Csound FX instruments)
– GMPlayAlong – for playing general MIDI files with Csound and visualizing the tracks on the ascii keyboard, virtual piano keyboard and pianoroll
– PlayAlong Keyboard – for playing Csound Instruments from a USB and/or Virtual Keyboard: GMplayer, Sampler, SynthExplorer (all sorts of synths)
* coming soon (within the next two weeks) by Cesare Marilungo
– Image2Sound – for the sonification of pictures and drawings from the Journal and other OLPC Activities using his new image opcode collection.
http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Talk:CSound – some thoughts on Csound for press and others
Here are the links to the XO Bundled Sound Activities (including especially the Csound Masterpiece by Jean PichÃ© and Company
– TamTam Mini, TamTam Jam, TamTam Edit, and the SynthLab)
http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Tamtam – all Csound – AMAZING – INTUITIVE – POWERFUL – and for Children!
http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Pippy (Some Csound)
http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Memorize (Some Csound)
http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Measure (Making the Csound connection now)
http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Record (capturing audio for Csound and Photos for Image2Csound conversion – thanks to Cesare Marilungo’s new
http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Draw (paint program which with Image2Csound and Cesare’s opcodes – can now be transformed to audio.)