Pure Data Tutorials for Musicians

Over the last year, I’ve put together a collection of YouTube videos on Pure Data Vanilla for musicians with no previous programming experience required.

Originally, I was just making these videos for a class, but I quickly found there was an audience for Pd tutorials like this, and my videos expanded beyond the class materials to generative music patches, live databending glitch beats, and algorithmic 80s synthwave.

If any of that sounds like fun to you, check out the playlist and enjoy!

Pure Data Horrors (Generative Halloween Music in Pure Data)

Make a Pure Data patch that generates synth Halloween music–“dissonant music in odd time signatures.”

Horror music offers a great deal of creative license, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution to spooky music. In this video I go through a few examples, then talk about how we can make a simple generative music system that creates pulsed, dissonant, repetitive music like John Carpenter’s score to Halloween (1978) or Mike Oldfield’s “Tubular Bells” (which became the theme to The Exorcist 1973). We start by making a simple sequencer, and then randomize and automate different aspects of it (tempo, roots, sequences).

A quick disclaimer, in retrospect, I realize I played a little fast and loose with the order of how things are processed here (looking especially at how I’m adding things), and I might have done some things in a different way, but everything works for our purposes, and I’ll plan to talk about that more next time.

Pd for Airports (Ambient Music in Pure Data)

Brian Eno coined the term “ambient music” to describe music that is “intended to induce calm and a space to think,” and “as ignorable as it is interesting.” We can make a simple patch in Pd that recreates one of Eno’s techniques, creating a system that endlessly generates ambient music for us with the notes that we choose.

Give it a try and make your own interesting and ignorable music.

Check out Tero Parviainen’s introduction on “How Generative Music Works” for more demonstrations and ideas.

Love Rollercoaster (Ohio Players Pure Data Glitch Cover)

Ohio Players’ “Love Rollercoaster” glitch cover in Pure Data with text-to-speech vocals and databent drums.

The original “Love Rollercoaster” was released in 1975 by the funk/R&B group Ohio Players on the album, “Honey”. Two decades later, It was covered by the Red Hot Chili Peppers in 1996 for–get this–the soundtrack of the Beavis and Butthead movie. It’s a great song, and these are both fantastic versions.

Me? I’m just having some fun and messing around with realtime databending.

Ohio Players performing the original:

RHCP Version: