2014-Apr-29: Intro to Pure Data for Artists

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Programming for New Media Artists


ranked from easiest to hardest

  • Computer: Windows, OSX, Linux
  • Microcontroller: Arduino, BASIC Stamp
  • Web:
  • Phone: Android, iOS


  • OSX:
    • Works great
    • Easy setup
    • Runs on specialized hardware
    • $$$
  • Windows
    • Requires extra setup for good audio performance
    • Can be tricky to configure for best real-time performance
    • Runs on a large array of hardware
    • $$
  • Linux
    • Some learning curve
    • Can achieve excellent performance
    • Free, not corporate owned
    • Runs on almost anything, including the $30 Raspberry Pi
    • The only decent option for older or slower hardware, performance-wise
    • If you go deep enough with Pd, you'll end up looking hard at Linux...

Do the ethics of the corporation behind the product(s) you use to create or to be a part of your art say anything about the art itself?


Structure of a language

  • Procedural
  • Object Oriented
  • Data flow


not listed in any particular order

  • Processing:
    • A text-based language based on Java.
    • This is great for visuals but its core does not support sound.
    • The tutorials and examples are wonderful, with tons of interactive help
    • Open Source: runs on Linux
  • Pure Data:
    • Graphically based
    • Draw a diagram of what you want
    • Data flow
    • Open Source: runs on Linux
    • Originally audio only. Supports video with extended library (Gem)
  • Max/MSP
    • commercial cousin of Pure Data
    • Larger user base than Pure Data
    • Probably the documentation is better than with Pd
    • This is getting some attention at WSU School of Music (Aleks Sternfeld-Dunn)
    • will not run on Linux
  • SuperCollider
    • Text based, powerful for sound
    • Not sure if it supports video
  • Csound
    • The grandaddy audio synthesis language
    • Supports some video with extensions.
    • Not the best starter language?
  • Open Frameworks
    • The fastest, bestest, and hardest
    • Usually overkill
    • Runs on everything including your phone
    • Open Source: runs on Linux


  • Arduino
    • great for simple sensors (proximity, motion, light)
    • often interfaced to a computer. Hooks up to any language easily


  • html5/Javascript


  • libPd with Java/Objective C
  • html5/Cordova
  • Open Frameworks

History and Overview of Pd

Let's Pd it!

What's Next?