Pure Data FAQ

PD general
the workshop
Steiner/ Elektronengehirn

What is PD?

PD can be regarded as a modular synthesizer system in software. You drag your modules in the virtual patch and wire them up. One problem newbies face with it that it has not a funky toolbox, you have to create 'objects' which are actually empty boxes. In it you write the name of the desired module, which can be peeked from a list in the documentary. When you click elsewhere, inlets and outlets are created on that box according to the function of the module, assuming you wrote the name correct. PD can easily extended with new modules called externals by third party programmers, and librarys like GEM which can create realtime grafics based on OpenGL.

What is PD used for?

PD can be used as a virtual electronic instrument, even in a midistudio context or live. It also can process live or recorded material. You can create sound- and, with GEM, videoinstallations.

How PD is related to Max/MSP and jMax?

PD is close relative to Max/MSP. Max was in former times a midi only system and always needed external synthesizers to generate sound. Later the MSP library was added to generate sounds in realtime. PD, Max and Max/MSP was programmed amoung others by Miller Puckette. All this software have a realtime kernel which is controlled by a grafical user interface. PD uses TCL/TK and jMax Java to implement the graphics. While PD and jMax are free, Max/MSP is distributed commercially by Cycling 74. But on the other hand it is the most complete package and offers more features like a vast range of user interface elements, vst plugin integration and the possibility to create VST and RTAS Plugins and standalone applications which are allowed to be sold (Pluggo was made with this). While for PD GEM is offerd, Max/MSP grafic library is called Jitter and sold seperatly.

How PD is in comparison to cSound and Super Collider?

Both cSound and Supercollider are free too but have no grafical userinterface where you can do your patchwork, they are conducted by textscripts which hold the instrumentdefinitons and score. CSound is the oldest and inherits the traditional software MusicX by Max Mathews. It is the most complete package and offers vast possibilities on almost any platform. Although in former time it was more a soundcompiler it can meanwhile be ran in realtime. Super Collider is more object orientated and newer than cSound but Macintosh only. If cSound is the c language of the dsp ones, Super Collider is C++. Both approaches of user interfaces, grafic and text, got their pros and cons.

Who wrote PD?

Miller Puckette, who still maintains PD.

On which platforms runs PD?

Linux, Irix, MacOS X and Windows.

What is TCL/TK and why I need this?

TCL/TK is a free portable grafical user interface toolkit, helping the programmers to create userinterfaces which can be easily ported to other operating systems. PD userinterface was created in TCL/TK.

Even when I load the testpatch from the help menue, no sound can be heard although I clicked on some switches in the patch

Assuming your soundcard is working in general, look if the switch compute audio on the little main panel is switched on.

When I load a synthesizer patch from the workshop I can't get it triggerd

The synthesizer patches need all the external Mistress Clock patch who sends a trigger signal to them. The speed is also adjusted on the clock. You can run the clock either on the same computer or over a tcp/ip network. Some patches have a manual trigger button.

When I close one patch, the Mistress clock crashes

You need explicitly to disconnect the patch from the Mistress clock. You have to press the propriate button on the clock patch otherwise PD get screwed up.

You say tcp/ip network, can I sync the patches over the internet too?

It should be possible but your computer must be visible from outside the web, having of course a unique ip address (192.168.1.x is far from unique, its a commun range for internal use) and no firewall should block the dedicated port you connect the clock (I used 3000). I never tried it and a further issue is the speed of the data. Otherwise its not a large amount of traffic, check it out and mail me. Or lets jam!

Where can I find more about you?

On http://www.elektronengehirn.de and http://www.block4.com, of particular interest might be block4s research area.

Whats your contact?

Best is email steiner@block4.com

Where can I buy your music?

Block 4 is also a mailorder. But there are even some free MP3s at Block 4 and MP3.com