Sound and Processing

Pro­cess­ing is an open source pro­gram­ming lan­guage and inte­grated devel­op­ment envi­ron­ment (IDE) built for the elec­tronic arts, new media art, and visual design com­mu­ni­ties with the pur­pose of teach­ing the fun­da­men­tals of com­puter pro­gram­ming in a visual context…The lan­guage builds on the Java lan­guage, but uses a sim­pli­fied syn­tax…” said Wikipedia.

Processing Code

Just fin­ished, “Get­ting Started with Pro­cess­ing,” by Ben Fry and Casey Reas (the cre­ators of the pro­gram). I thought I would get through it in a week, but it took 4. It was only 190 pages, it doesn’t look like much, but when each page takes 15–30 min­utes, well…it takes a while. It is not often I decide I am going to learn some­thing by read­ing a book (or man­ual) cover to cover. The plus-side included work­ing at my own pace and being able to look over every step until I really got the infor­ma­tion. The down-side included, falling asleep uncon­trol­lably every time more than a page of text went by with­out an exer­cise to engage me, lucky there was a sketch on almost every page. I’ve done the math, I passed out on aver­age once every 15 pages.

Video: Mur­mur — From sound to light, by Talk­ing to Walls

The lan­guage was cre­ated pri­mar­ily for visual artist, but there is a sound library in Pro­cess­ing called minim. I’ve been pok­ing around online look­ing for ways that com­posers are work­ing with Pro­cess­ing. It has been a chal­lenge to find any com­po­si­tional musi­cal based work (if you know of any, please share), although it seems like there are quite a few mixed media artist using Pro­cess­ing to include a sonic com­po­nent and lots of peo­ple using a mix­ture of Max and Processing.

The fol­low­ing two sounds based projects are my two favorites cre­ated using Processing.

This is a piece by Josh Nimoy called Ball Drop­pings. Make sure the vol­ume is up. Draw lines on the black screen to bounce the balls.


This is a piece by Georg Reil and Kathy Scheur­ing called Fine Col­lec­tion of Curi­ous Sound Objects.