Is PlugData Making Me Switch to Pd?

A few months ago, PlugData added a feature that I only discovered a few days ago. And it might make me put many of my eggs in the Pure data basket: AUv3 support!
(Along with CLAP, LV2, and VST3.)

Honestly, it makes a huge difference, for me.

Because playflow.

I do a lot of musicking on iPadOS through a plugin host (typically AUM, though I enjoy all the others, from Loopy Pro and Drambo to the venerable Audiobus and apeMatrix). While it sounds close to using a DAW, it’s quite different in practice. Very amenable to live performance. And it’s just plain fun.

I also use macOS DAWs. Especially Bitwig Studio. Since Logic Pro came to iPadOS, I also started doing more with Apple’s DAW.

Another setup I’ve enjoyed a lot is based on a Raspberry Pi with the Pisound HAT. In the past, I’ve focused on MODEP, the MOD Emulation for Pisound.

For years, I’ve been searching for the one technology which allows me to do the same thing across these platforms. Simply put, I want “Patch Portability”, the equivalent of Write Once, Run Everywhere.
In fact, I want to create patches/modules/objects/plugins for my longterm personal project: Inclusive Learning through Music Technology. Having a way to create those and deploy them on several platforms is quite important, for me.

Obviously, the Pi is where Sonic Pi started, so it runs really well there. It also runs on macOS. However, there’s no way (I know) to run those .rb scripts on my iPad Pro. Plus, integrating SPi with a DAW or plugin host is rather difficult. Especially when compared to using a plugin.
When I work with learners in Sonic Pi, they’re learning Sonic Pi. Yes, I can bring them to deep learning about a number of things. Yet it’s quite different from using “learning material” in a broader environment.

So I’ve thought about sooooo many options. Say, creating Jupyter Notebooks using music-friendly Python code. Or creating Max patches and compiling them as plugins. Webapps have also been part of the idea, though Safari doesn’t support WebMIDI.
And, obviously, Pd has been on my mind for quite a while.

Over the years, I’ve dabbled in a number of things. Sonic Pi, of course. FAUST, SuperCollider, AudioKit, VCV Rack, Xcode, ChucK, Reaktor, p5js, BWS’s Grid, JUCE, TouchDesigner, Unity, Unreal Engine, etc.
In a way, SPi has been the one with which I was able to share some of my “creations”. It gave me enough power to do much of what I’ve been meaning to do, from rotating chords and counter-motion to demoing interactions by putting blocks in Minecraft. It sure does a lot and it’s been remarkably easy to learn. Thanks in large part to the approach Sam has taken to both development and tutorials.

There are all sorts of issues with Pure data. Including the “fragmentation” in a number of versions and forks and flavours. There are things that you can only do in “Pd-Extended” or “Purr-data” or “Pd-vanilla”.
And there are things which only work in Plugdata.
Which, in a way, becomes somewhat beneficial, for me. Instead of trying to do things in Pd generally, I can focus on the things supported in Plugdata. (Latest addition is GEM, a library for visuals… which may prove relevant in my projects.)

And people on the Plugdata Discord have been welcoming. In fact, I just benefited from the exact type of interaction I prefer, when learning a new tool: I was guided through the questions I need to ask myself in order to find a way to accomplish what I want to accomplish. It’s a rare thing. It does happen here, of course. Indeed, a key moment when following Sam’s tutorial is when you’re asked to think about why two loops aren’t running at the same time, leading you to the thought process through which you need to go to understand how Sonic Pi works. In terms of pedagogy, it’s an important moment.

Anyhoo… Plugdata has a friendly userbase as well. (Had more than decent luck with the broader Pd community in the past.) And it’s used in a large variety of contexts.

My plan, at this point, is to create a series of patches which will help people learn different things. For instance, learning to play different scales on a controller using a grid of square or hex pads. I’d also like to create tools to explore diverse tuning systems (which makes me wish Pd supported MTS-ESP). Sharing rhythmic and melodic patterns. Music-making using semi-generative tools. Analyzing musical snippets for key characteristics. Sonifying data. Music visualizations. The list goes on and on.

None of this is meant to say that Sonic Pi is lacking in any way. It works remarkably well at what it’s meant to do. It’s just that… my “user specs” lead me to Plugdata.

Because AUv3.

I don’t know enough about PlugData to comment specifically, but I have been using music tech professionally since the late 90s in inclusive music making (for musicians with profound disabilities), so I will make the following remarks: Pure Data rules; platform/version incompatibilities will always exist; Sonic Pi also rules.

Give me limitations, not option anxieties. But amazing to hear Logic has an iOS version ?? :open_mouth:

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Really good to hear about your work. I’ll check it out. Is there a place where you’ve documented some projects?

(I’ve also been connected to Music Tech for a few decades. Only connected that to inclusion ten years ago.)

Excellent point about option anxiety. Honestly, focusing on one approach feels freeing. It’s only been a few days and I haven’t created much. Still, I feel like I’ve found my medium.

Weirdly, given how aural I am, some of that effect has to do with (simple) visuals. I typically don’t care much about GUIs despite the fact that I work in UX. In this case, though, it’s about testing things related to Information Architecture.

Sonic Pi has some cool visualization options and Sam’s work on integrating visuals will lead to something great.

And, really, converging on something is a big deal for me, after years of divergent thinking.

As for Logic Pro on iPadOS… it’s rather neat. It does allow for « roundtripping » between iPad and Mac. There are limitations in work-/playflow. Still really useful if you want to create, tweak, perform, or analyze on the go.

I haven’t worked in that domain for a number of years, but I led an ensemble called Acoustronic for several years: News About Inclusive Creativity | Inclusive Creativity, and here’s us performing a Steve Reich/Ladysmith Black Mambazo mashup in London a few years ago: Music composed by Brendan McCloskey | By AcoustronicFacebook


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