[music-dsp] cSound and Supercollider

Garry Kling kling007 at earthlink.net
Wed Oct 10 02:08:48 EDT 2001

on 09/10/2001 09:49 PM, case basic at caseybasichislist at yahoo.com wrote:

> I understand that
> Supercollider is way better for live stuff but what
> technical advantages does it have over running cSound
> in realtime (via cSoundVST)

I've used Supercollider almost daily for 3 years now. I started on Csound
myself, and it is a great language. I haven't used the _vst type you
mention, but I have read that it has limitations, as it's a work in
progress. Supercollider has at least the following general advantages:

More unit generators (modules) can run at once.
Real time MIDI input, Wacom tablet input, and Open Sound Control.
Programs are run from the text editing window (like lisp, etc.)
A larger variety of unit generators.
File I/O.
And, for some, the object oriented programming language is important.

> I know it has GUI elements
> but are there things i can do with it that cant be
> done in cSound?  

I think there are some GUI tools for Csound - I'm not familiar with them.
The GUI stuff in SC is ok. The main things that are possible for SC and not
Csound is the sophisticated real-time control, the larger amount of code
(ugens) that it can run at once, the power of the language itself (it is a
full fledged language), algorithmic composition tools, built-in text editing
using only one file, multi-channel sound card support, extensibility, and
reliability. There are more, I'm sure.

For the other side, SC is $250, only runs on MacOS (soon MacOS X), and *can*
be esoteric for the uninitiated, and is not completely open source.
> Also if i learn cSound how hard will
> it be to learn Supercollider.

They are very different. The basic computer music synthesis concepts of
course carry through, but the language itself is very different. Csound is
closest to Fortran or assembly, where SC is somewhere between Smalltalk and

I think you should download a demo and check it out if you have access to a
Mac. The upcoming version 3 is said to include image manipulation, and a
plug-in API. But there is a lot to be said for Csound. It has it's own
powers. (and it's free) Maybe someone a bit more knowledgeable can provide
you with a rebuttal :)

Garry Kling

 * MAT - UC Santa Barbara
 * kling007 at earthlink.net

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