Turning a tiny Linux box into a synthesizer

waveforms

For all the cool things the Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone, and other low-power Linux boards can do, there’s one thing we haven’t seen much of: creating music with software synthesizers. Yes, soft synths have been around for ages now, but compiling them for these ARM boards is something we haven’t seen much of (to say nothing of the Linux audio system). Luckily, [Paul] and [Trev] have put together a tutorial for making synthesizers on these small Linux boards using Csound, the premier audio programming language for Linux.

[Paul] and [Trev] have already put together a few Csound instruments that include a Vangelis-inspired synth, a Lorenz Strange Attractor FM synth, a drum machine, and a classic monophonic style synth. All these instruments are ready to play on a Raspi or BeagleBone and we’re sure we’ll see a few more applications of this great tool for creating musical instruments as more musicians are turned onto these small Linux boards.

Comments

  1. Hmmm, would be nice to be able to hear samples of these instruments….

  2. echodelta says:

    Can it run ZynAddSubFx?

    • Me says:

      Tried that, coulden’t get it to work on a rasPi (was just a 256, though). it needed jack2, which I coulden’t get going. I think it did install, though, and I did get a very slow interface, so there may be a glimmer of hope. Not a big glimmer, though, as zynaddsubfx goes glitchy on my main PC if I have more than about 5 voices, and a rasPi is less than a fith of the power of mine main PC.

  3. r3 says:

    I’m getting a mk808b dongle and keep wondering – Android promised to fix its audio issues years and years ago. Where the f*** is Raven?

  4. svofski says:

    I had some success running Aeolus (that’s a very nice organ synth) on RPi. The latency was decent, only a little bit worse than with a core duo laptop that’s currently working as a sound module in the organ, so software-wise it’s feasible to use RPi at least for some soft synthesis.

    The real problem with RPi though is its absolutely horrendous analog sound output, which is good precisely for nothing. They could just have save a few cents and skip installing the audio jack. USB audio is also hard: out of 4 different external USB soundcards only one seemed to perform ok, unfortunately it also was problematic in other departments.. Yeah, I know, HDMI, but HDMI can go *** itself.

  5. ulysse says:

    You can use the Satellite CCRMA image for the raspi or beagle bone too. It comes with a lot of music software like puredata and so on. For sound quality, i use a usb headset soundcard which gives me good results. I also had no problem with the art dual usb pre. You can even sample and process sounds, like this:

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