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Programming Sound with Pure Data: Make Your Apps Come Alive with Dynamic Audio


Cover image for Programming Sound with Pure Data

Programming Sound with Pure Data

Make Your Apps Come Alive with Dynamic Audio


Sound gives your native, web, or mobile apps that extra dimension, and it’s essential for games. Rather than using canned samples from a sample library, learn how to build sounds from the ground up and produce them for web projects using the Pure Data programming language. Even better, you’ll be able to integrate dynamic sound environments into your native apps or games—sound that reacts to the app, instead of sounding the same every time. Start your journey as a sound designer, and get the power to craft the sound you put into your digital experiences.

Customer Reviews

This book covering Pure Data is pure fun. Where else can you learn how to make lightsaber sounds with code? It’s a very nice intro to Pd and basic sound design and focuses on practical things you can use in your own apps.

- Jack Moffitt

senior research engineer, Mozilla

After reading Programming Sound, I had so many ideas running through my head that I couldn’t sleep. I learned not only how to synthesize amazing sounds (think oceans, wind, wineglasses, and laser swords), but also why and how to dynamically incorporate those in both web and native mobile applications. Thank you, Tony!!

- Zebulon Bowles

freelance musician and developer

Hillerson makes the depth of Pure Data accessible, and in the process teaches the basics of digital sound synthesis. Useful, fun, and highly recommended.

- Ben Price

senior developer, DreamQuest Games

Programming Sound raises the bar for what defines a good audio experience in software. This book will help you see application development through an entirely different lens. It arms you with the tools necessary to provide another avenue to engage and delight your audience.

- Dan Berry

iOS Developer, Tack Mobile

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About this Title

Pages: 196
Published: 2014-01-20
Release: P1.0 (2014-01-28)
ISBN: 978-1-93778-566-6

Add sound effects or music to your web, Android, and iOS apps and games—sound that can react to changing environments or user input dynamically (at least in the native apps). You can do all this with Pure Data, a visual programming language for digital sound processing.

Programming Sound with Pure Data introduces and explores Pure Data, building understanding of sound design concepts along the way. You’ll start by learning Pure Data fundamentals and applying them, creating realistic sound effects. Then you’ll see how to analyze sound and re-create what you hear in a recorded sample. You’ll apply multiple synthesis methods to sound design problems. You’ll finish with two chapters of real-world projects, one for the web, and one for an iOS and Android app. You’ll design the sound, build the app, and integrate effects using the libpd library.

Whether you’ve had some experience with sound synthesis, or are new to sound design, this book is for you. These techniques are perfect for independent developers, small shops specializing in apps or games, and developers interested in exploring musical apps.

What You Need

You’ll need a computer with a sound card and some headphones, Pure Data or Pd-extended 0.43 or greater, your favorite code editor, and Eclipse and/or Xcode for the native projects.

Contents & Extracts


  • Who Is This Book For?
  • What This Book Covers
  • What This Book Doesn’t Cover
  • Where Will You Be When You Finish This Book?
  • Online Resources
  • Getting Started With Sound Design
  • Introducing Pure Data
  • Installing Pd
  • Let’s Get Started
  • Making Some Noise
    • Finding Your Way Around excerpt
    • Hello Concert A
    • Controlling Volume
    • Working With Different Frequencies
    • Next Up
  • Building Controls
    • Visualizing Sound
    • Creating a Subpatch
    • Making Sound Move
    • Building an Envelope
    • Next Up
  • Creating Effects: Real World Sounds excerpt
    • Waves
    • Wind
    • A Short Interlude: Synthesis Types
    • A Toast!
    • Next Up
  • Working With Waves
    • Exporting Sound Files
    • Loading Sound Files
    • Generating Wavetables
    • Synthesizing Other Geometric Waves
    • Next Up
  • Creating Effects: More Effects
  • Sound in User Experience
  • Project 1: Putting Sounds Into a Web Game
  • Putting Dynamic Sounds In a Native App
    • Designing The App
    • Designing and Building The Patch excerpt
    • Introducing libpd
    • Integrating With The Native Apps
    • Next Up
  • Next Steps
  • Glossary


Tony Hillerson is a partner and mobile developer at Tack Mobile. He’s designed sound and composed music for Tack’s games and apps. Tony has also spoken at RailsConf, AnDevCon, 360|iDev, and has created popular Android screencasts. In his free time Tony plays the bass, Warr Guitar, and makes electronic music.