Hello from Basque Country

Hi, I’m Jon. From the Teacher trainer Faculty from the University of the Basque Country. I’m not a musician, I’m not a engineer, but I’m interested on how introduce computational thinking in the new teachers promotions though the music. I really think this is a great way to promote Science and Maths for girls & boys when they are learning at the school.

Thanks for this great forum.

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Hi @Jonbus,

welcome to Sonic Pi and this forum!

Yes, that’s definitely right. In my experience you can explore all kinds of subjects via Sonic Pi. As you said, Science and Math, but also Musicology, History of Music, Technology, Synthesizers, and - of course - aesthetics of music in general or specific genres (e. g. the ones that are relevant to younger people but you can also peek into older stuff and make it relevant again)… and so on…


Hello Jon, welcome to this great community! :slight_smile:

Hi, @Martin

Yessssssssss definitively .

A little question of a newbie. Could be possible add new instruments like use_synth :piano ?
Students ask me for this feature and I couldn’t find a easy answer.

Thanks in advance

Hi @Jonbus,
Do you mean, can you add instruments that are beyond those already built in to Sonic Pi?

yes, this is the idea, Like violin, guitar, flute… Like in Scratch

You can of course choose to play a variety of the built in synths, a process described in the Sonic Pi tutorial in the app in Section 2.3, and online at http://sonic-pi.net/tutorial#section-2-3.
However, It is absolutely possible to use new synths that do not come built in to Sonic Pi, assuming this is what you meant.
Under the hood, Sonic Pi uses synths built for the program called SuperCollider - so-called ‘SynthDefs’. (All of the existing synths in Sonic Pi are this type of file - you can see them in the Sonic Pi source code repository at https://github.com/samaaron/sonic-pi/tree/master/etc/synthdefs/compiled for example).
To add more similar software based synths to Sonic Pi, you could find more floating around on the internet, or even build your own with SuperCollider.
There’s a little more you need to do if you want to use ‘external’/‘custom’ synths like this - but I’m happy to go into more specifics if this is still what you’re after :slight_smile:

Hi @Jonbus,

I see @ethancrawford is still replying and probably going into detail concerning your question. Just that much: You can always use Midi and use any sound you’d like and have available.


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Yep, what Martin said - besides creating your own or using new synths similar to those built in, you can of course also use the MIDI or OSC protocols to communicate with any external devices or software synths that accept such input/output.

So it’s not as easy as to import a directory with some files !!! :see_no_evil: :wink:

Dear @ethancrawford,

Excuse me for asking for help again :worried: I’ve been trying to find synths files (.synthddef) but I don’t find anything using internet search engines !!! And in the case of having a new synth file, how can I use it with Sonic Pi?

Maybe this questions are a little stupid questions…but I can´t find a way to do it.

Thank you for your help,


Hi @Jonbus,

I don’t think there are many, who have already been working on more synthdefs for Sonic Pi. You will find a few attempts here in the forum but there is definitely no library available besides the inbuild synths. The easiest way to extend the sound capabilities of Sonic Pi is to use hardware or software synthesizers (such as Helm or others depending on your OS and whether you want to spend money or go for Open Source) via Midi or OSC. At least as far as I know of…

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Hi @Martin

Thank you for your help !!!
I’ll try with Helm


Warm greetings to our friendly community :slight_smile:

I really hope you feel comfortable to ask whatever questions you want here - nothing is too crazy and everyone is constantly learning new things so discussions on all levels - from basic to advanced - are hugely welcomed.

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Hi @Jonbus,

Oh, they’re definitely not stupid questions. As Sam said, don’t feel silly asking anything here :slight_smile: For now, the right idea is probably to hook Sonic Pi up to cheap or free software synths with MIDI or OSC as suggested by Martin - there are many out there. Some will run independently on your computer; others may need ‘host’ applications to run within; but Helm is definitely worth a go.

As far as synthdef files though - not that it’s immediately helpful, but I am in the process of planning and designing a few of these types of synths to add to Sonic Pi. It may take a while (some of them will require changes to Sonic Pi itself) but the idea is that we’ll have several new synths that have the capability to create a variety of sounds.

Dear @samaaron, @Martin & @ethancrawford,

Wow !!! I didn´t expected this kind of answers !!! Really, I’m not used to this !!! Thank You !!!

Among the people who are studying at the faculty to become teachers of infant and primary education, very few know how to play any instrument (neither do I). I have discovered that through Sonic Pi, those people without musical knowledge, begin to have interest in interpreting sheet music of musical themes of their interest. My goal is that all my students will be able to interpret some simple sheet music and rhythms through Sonic Pi. I think it would be a great advance in the training of future teachers.
That’s why I’m interested in incorporating more classic synthesizers, such as guitar, violin, double bass, flute,…
Anyway, in this course I think I will be able to achieve that 100% of my students will be able to interpret music sheet with the current Sonic Pi synthesizers.

@ethancrawford …great idea & project !!! Can we help you in something?

Thank you for your help !!!

Hi @Jonbus

if you are interested in synth sounds of traditional instruments you should have a look at Fluidsynth and Soundfonts in general. Fluidsynth is an Open Source software that is able to use soundfonts: organised sample collections (of whatever instruments) that can be used via MIDI (or OSC); you will find some usable and free Soundfonts on the internet, which provide sounds of traditional instruments. I have (or had) it running under Linux but - as the website says - you can also run it with Windows and MacOS.

If you are interested listen to an example of a Sonic Pi track using a guitar soundfont I made some time ago.


Hi @Martin,

We are thinking about Well-known musical themes .
This is an example of “Beleive by Cher
When people have the melody in their memory, it’s easier engaging to try play the melody from a easy sheet :wink: This is my experience :wink:


Hi @Jonbus,

yes, sure. My example was just to give you an idea about how soundfonts sound :wink:

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Welcome, Jon! Greetings from the Valencian Country. I am the translator of Sonic Pi into Catalan. If you or your students are interested on translating it into Basque, I can help you as far as I can. Also I am a primary teacher, so we can talk about the use of Sonic Pi in class.