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5 Sessions
Audit (Free)
Certificate (Incl. w/ Premium)
Universitat Pompeu Fabra
Creative Computing
Skill Level
Synthesis, Interactive Sound, pure data, open sound control, sensors, signal processing
Course Description

Pure Data is a popular dataflow programming environment for creative applications in audio, visuals and interaction. As an open source visual programming language, it is accessible to beginners, but it also offers a wide array of tools for experienced digital artists.

This course provides an introduction to the core programming skills required to design and build audio applications in Pure Data. Using synthesis, sampling, and signal processing techniques, users will learn to create unique and original devices and systems for music composition and performance. Throughout the course, we will review the fundamental objects available in Pure Data, and how to patch them together to implement standard audio techniques. We will also go over various best practices to help you organize your patches efficiently, and improve your workflow. Finally, we will put it all together in creative projects that will help you integrate what we have learned in your own art making. This introductory course will reveal that Pure Data is an ideal programming environment for creative purposes thanks to its built-in data processing and user interface tools.


This course is in scheduled mode "." Learn more about scheduled courses here.

Session 1: Introduction
In this session we will review the fundamentals of digital sound and introduce the basics of the Pure Data programming environment. We will see examples of what Pd can do, and we will learn it directly from his creator, Miller Puckette, who we will interview. We will conclude this first session by creating our first sounding Pd patch that will consist of a basic Theremin with independent frequency and amplitude control.
Session 2: Pure Data Fundamental Elements
In this session we will study the differences between Pd audio and control rate, and we will provide a first introduction to some of Pd’s arithmetic and logical operators. With this acquired knowledge, we will convert our former Theremin into a programable basic step-based synthesizer. And since our patches are starting to grow big, we will also study how to encapsulate subpatches and other tricks for keeping our programs ordered, clean and manageable.
Session 3: Playing Wave Files
Sampling and wave files are at the core of many electronic music styles, from the pioneering “Musique Concrete” in the 1950s to hip-hop. In this session we will study the extended possibilities Pd offers for playing back audio files. We will create a loop-player and, after a basic introduction to MIDI, a sample player controllable through the QWERTY keyboard and a programable drum machine using sample files.
Session 4: Waveforms, Filters And Envelopes - MIDI’s Ins And Outs
In the first part of this session we will study different methods for creating different waveforms such as square, triangular, sawtooth, or any shape we can imagine. These waveforms will be good candidates for later applying them low-pass, high-pass and band-pass filters. And with the final introduction of envelopes, we will convert the sample-based drum machine of the previous session into a drum synthesizer, with optional external MIDI control.
Session 5: Sensors And External Control
Until now, our patches were primarily controlled either through the mouse, keyboard of trackpad of our laptop, or by means of a MIDI compatible device. In this session we will study how to take profit of non musical devices, such as the accelerometers and multitouch capabilities of your smartphone, or how to use a webcam for providing alternative sources of control.
Instructors & Guests
What You Need to Take This Course
  • Software
    • Pure Data Downloadable Here
  • Equipment
    • A PC/Mac/Linux computer with installation privileges
    • A webcam and a microphone
    • An Android or iOS smartphone is also recommended for some of the exercises
  • Some text-based or visual programming experience is strongly recommended, although not strictly necessary, as well as some working experience with synthesizers or any commercial music/audio software. Apart from that, no prior knowledge of mathematics or other topics is required.
Additional Information

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