Sonic Pi vs. DAWs (in educational environments)

Hey, everybody!
Talking about using Sonic Pi in school projects with some mates… Which benefits and advantages does Sonic Pi have over any other DAW? (Taking in account the age of students, difficulty of Sonic Pi , no experience with DAWs neither code…)

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Quick answer. I use Sonic Pi with 14 years old pupils. In four seances of 45 minutes they learn how to make a whole tune based on samples.
The goal is to make them get starting coding with smiles and music. They are happy !


just see Sample your life (how to create a whole tune with external samples in sonic pi) - #2 by nlb

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That’s awesome! The sliced vocals are great!

And… Do you consider that it would be easier to do in a DAW like Logic Pro or Soundtrap (an online DAW)? I mean… Is the learning curve of Sonic Pi harder than learning to produce music with a visual environment?

  • Sonic Pi has (we believe :wink: ) an amazingly low learning curve, expecting neither music training nor coding experience, being designed in the beginning specifically to introduce computing to school children
  • It’s easy to share your compositions to be viewed/read by others - plain text, rather than some obscure unreadable format
  • Just the fact that it introduces you to computing ideas (sometimes by stealth too, like concurrency with live_loops!)
  • The fact that syntax and logic errors in Sonic Pi script are laid bare in the errors panel, and are often easy to produce just by typing slightly wrong code, as opposed to DAWs being highly engineered to remove as much chance as possible of errors occurring, or maybe producing bland errors. I’m reminded of a ‘philosophy’ of sorts in much of the live coding community: errors shouldn’t be scary - they should be embraced :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes: like Sam himself mentions: there are no mistakes, only opportunities! (Related to this: Sonic Pi is great in that a lot of time when they do occur, errors are not fatal for the entire composition/performance, but might just stop one or two threads/live_loops, which can be corrected on the fly :slightly_smiling_face:)

There are a few other things that Sonic Pi has that may be considered an advantage over a DAW in certain contexts - some of these I could probably steal from the great points made by folks such as @xavierriley and @Eli over at DAWs vs Coding Music. (Whether applicable to an educational environment or not I guess could differ depending on the situation, but: )

  • simple text editor interface vs GUI densely packed with controls
  • text interface with commands that are built on the basis of actual language, which can potentially be more self-descriptive than knobs and buttons
  • interfaces governed by menus and buttons, vs ‘menus and buttons in your mind’
  • (perhaps related) flexibility to do complex, large-scale or non-standard things with a bit of code, vs bending or wading through a set workflow
  • (related again) many ways to do a thing, rather than only perhaps a small few ways of doing a thing, according to the ideas of a DAW or the general ‘music community’ at large

Incidentally, you may find additional perspectives in the other topics in this ‘Educators’ category, though I’m guessing there’s a possibility you’ve already had a look!

Perhaps not strictly about Sonic Pi vs DAWs, but maybe there’s some insight of use in the excellent diary from @mrbombmusic starting at: