Friday, September 26, 2008

Processing 2

I haven’t posted for a few weeks, and I thought I should mention why that’s so. My last post was about Processing, and since I wrote that, it’s taken up pretty much all my spare time. I’m still learning the language, but it’s actually a good bit easier than I thought it would be. I’ve worked in a number of scripting languages before as well as flirted with “real” programming in C many years ago and RealBASIC more recently. This has given me a good headstart in learning Processing as I’m more or less familiar with the general concepts. Even for someone with no prior programming experience however, it should be easy enough to pick up if you start with a good book. I’m using Learning Processing, and I’ve found it to be clear and easy to understand, even if you’ve never had any previous programming experience.

The best part, though, is that as I’m working my way through the book, new ideas for interesting things to do constantly come to mind. I’m not advanced enough yet to be able to pull them off, but I can see that it won’t be long before I’ll be able to. Starting from zero a month ago, I can see possibilities now of what can be done. I don’t know yet how to generate sound or output MIDI, but I can see that once I get to that point there I’ll be able to have my sketches, what programs are called in Processing, make noise. It should be relatively “easy” to make a string module that drifts down the screen from the top to the bottom. Once that string moves past a certain point, a note could be triggered. Now make many instances of the string module fall at random times, or trigger random notes when they fall, and all of a sudden you’ve got programmatically generated music. Easy to do? Maybe not, but possible with a bit of sweat and hard work? Definitely. There are also possibilities opened up by doing a little programming for the Arduino board to make use of sensors to trigger things in Processing, or conversely, for taking the output of Processing sketches and making them do things in the physical world rather than just on a screen.

There’s also a Processing community forming. Earlier this week I went to the first meeting of the Processing Study Group at NYC Resistor. The room was pretty much filled to capacity with a wide range of people interested in visual and musical programming. There were a lot of beginners, which was good, and the atmosphere was pretty charged up with lots of enthusiasm. I’m totally looking forward to next month’s yet-to-be-scheduled meeting, and hopefully I’ll be ready with a few interesting code examples I’ve been able to cook up by then.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been doing for the past several weeks; diving into Processing. I’m going to resume my “normal” amount of posting about synths and music. In fact, I’m going to write a post about the new DSI Mopho as soon as I finish this one. I did, however, want to explain what I’ve been doing lately and why my posts may have seemed to taper off. I’ve got plenty to write about, though, so hang in there.

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