My favorite software is Csound.

I am totally into it, and my presentation of it will be biased upon my view. It is extremely flexible, and capable of doing any and all audio synthesis or processing techniques know to date. This is mainly because the building blocks in Csound is so small, and that you can combine them freely. Let's not pretend that Csound is easy to learn, but once you grasp the general principles you get into a way of thinking that makes Csound easy to use. Unlike graphical patcher-type software like Max, Csound is text based. This means that you write text files to program your patches (instrument definitions, scores etc.). The text file is interpreted by Csound, and your described audio synthesis or processing setup is generated.

If you want to take a look at some of my Csound instruments, you can find it later on this page.

The good thing about a text interface is that it is a lot easier to patch large numbers of signals around. A simple example when working with a graphical patcher, if you're going to change the patching of 50 different audio signals, you will have to use a computer mouse and manually edit 50 graphical connections on the screen. When working with a text based system, you can use a text editor's Search and Replace functions to re-patch your 50 audio signals automatically.

The best place to look for info on Csound is

There, you can find Csound instruments, executables, documentation, access to mailing lists, well... pretty much everything you need. If it is not within the Csounds site itself, you will most probably find a link to it from there.

Csound is free, for non-commercial purposes. This means nobody can sell the Csound software in itself, however, it is legal to sell your patches/instruments/scores and it is legal to sell the music you make with the software.

Csound is both the most ancient and the most recent soft synth I know of. It stems from the very first audio software made to test audio transmission of telephone lines during the late 1950's, from there it was made into the Music I to Music IV series by digital audio pioneer Max Mathews. Much further down the evolution line, it was rewritten by Barry Vercoe and renamed Csound in 1986. The full story can be found on the Csounds web site. While having it's roots so deep down in computer music history, Csound also remains one of the most frequently updated software today. Also, due to the non-commercial nature of the Csound license, patented algorithms make it into Csound years before they are commercially released. One example of this is the recently developed synthesis technique Scanned Synthesis, this technique was available to Csound users a few months after it's initial development.


Some examples from my Csound orchestras,

divided into


Sound Effect Models
Csound Compositions

Krøyt Performance Orchestras

Custom Csound instruments


4-operator FM synth
; midi instrument
; 4-operator FM synth, with triple detuned oscillators on the "main" oscillator
; it is wired like this:
; 4
; / | \
; 3 | 2
; \ | /
; 1
; where oscillators 4,3,2 modulate each other and oscillator 1,
; and oscillator 1 is actually three oscillators subtly detuned from each other to fatten the sound

; midi instrument
; a simple synth with Frequency Modulation
; and direct feedback in the frequency modulation algorithm
; this leads to various interesting "artifacts" in the sound of the instrument.

FM Solosynth with feedback
; midi instrument
; a variation of FM Feedback1,
; a little more elaborate, and with an added FDN reverb

Sweep Pad
; midi instrument
; a simple pad synth instrument

Vector Synth
; midi instrument
; a pad synth instrument with some variation of tone,
; modeled after the "vector synth" setup used in the Korg Wavestation.
; 4 oscillators with different waveforms are dynamically mixed

Vector Synth with FM feedback
; midi instrument
; a vector synth with Frequency Modulation
; and direct feedback in the frequency modulation algorithm
; this leads to various interesting "artifacts" in the sound of the instrument

LPF18 Bass1
; midi instrument
; simple synth with two oscillators and one filter
; envelope control of filter cutoff and drive
; The lpf18 filter contributes to the character of the sound.

FM Bass1
; midi instrument
; FM bass synth with warm distortion
; The 2-oscillator FM setup gives some overtones and "edge" to the sine wave,
; and the distortion is used more for "presence" and "edge" than actual dist.
; I find that this bass sounds similar to an electric bass in the sustained part of the note.

FM Bass2
; midi instrument
; FM bass synth with warm distortion, variation of "FMBass1.csd"
; The 2-oscillator FM setup gives some overtones and "edge" to the sine wave,
; and the distortion is used more for "presence" and "edge" than actual dist.

FM Bass3
; midi instrument
; FM bass synth with warm distortion, another variation of "FMBass1.csd"

FM Bass4
; midi instrument
; FM bass synth with warm distortion, another variation of "FMBass1.csd"

; midi instrument
; "Overtones of overtones of XHz"
; a design suggestion by Buyo-Buyo-Igor (well, that's the only name I know him under)
; led to this orchestra setup.
; It is a 3-oscillator setup where one oscillator play a harmonic overtone series
; while another play a harmonic undertone series.

; midi instrument
; a variation of XhzRootHarmonics, with FM feedback



FM delay
; this csd demonstrates the use of Frequency Modulation (FM) as a "postprocessing effect".
; Normally, the synthesis technique of FM is an integrated part of the
; oscillator setup in the synth design.
; However, if we can use the same technique later in the signal chain,
; we can use it to modulate other kinds of input sounds too.
; Even live input can be Frequency Modulated, when setting it up as described here.

Ring Modulator
; Well, actually amplitude modulator with the possibility of ring modulation
; a standalone ringmodulator for processing of sound files
; with some enveloping control of modulation frequency and index
; requires FLTK GUI opcodes in Csound
; this orchestra was written for a project with Arne Nordheim,
; to process sounds cut from his earlier works, for use in an interactive installation

; a very simple pitch tracker for use on realtime audio input signal
; requires FLTK GUI opcodes in Csound


Sound Effect Models:

; a simple model of a helicopter/chopper noise

; a simple model of a ship/boat engine,
; this is a "simplest form" with no profiling of the
; characteristic properties of of a specific engine

; a very simple model of waves breaking at sea

; very simple modeled wind sound,
; the use of rspline and jspline adds some random movement


Csound Compositions:

Only one for now...

The Bear of the Red Mountain
; a composition made from observation data of a brown bear
; commissioned by the international brown bear conference held in Steinkjer 2002
; The Csound file provided here renders the core part of the composition,
; with the data mapping to synthesized sound
The full composition includes some extra image to sound mapping done in another software called Coagula Image Synth, and some background bear-howling done by granulating a bear cry in Csound/ImproSculpt.
The full composition can be found in the Music section of this web site


Krøyt Performance Orchestras:

As a taste of how I use Csound live with the band Krøyt.
You need some specific audio files to run these orchestras,
they are zipped with the csd file.
You will need to do a little text-editing on the csd file to reflect the path where you have stored these audio files.
For more info on Krøyt check

a composition dated 1998/1999, released on out "Body Electric" EP (2000).
Different background audio loops follow different sections of the song,
selection of "next loop" is done via midi controllers. I use DimensionBeams for this task on stage.
There's also some simple routing of midi controllers from my BodySynth (EMG muscle activity sensors made by Ed Severinghaus). The BodySynth controls volume of a synth pad, as well as pitch and delay parameters on an external effects unit used to process audio from my vibraphone.

Rock Us
a composition dated 2001/2001, not released on any album.
The instrument is made up of a Bass synth, with percussion riffs being assigned to
different midi notes. Some notes has a "hardwired" midi split and thus play the same riff
each time the same midi note is played, while other notes has a random selector for percussion riffs, choosing among a few similar riffs. Some notes has a Boomy Bass Drum assigned, while others has a Large Crash Cymbal. One note can trigger the start of a preprogrammed drum loop, while another can stop the loop.


I've written a live sampler orchestra/application for improvisational processing of realtime audio.
This is a performance instrument meant to be played in ensemble with other musicians playing more traditional instruments.
ImproSculpt is released under GPL license, free for noncommercial use.
I spent a year writing this instrument, so I'd be very happy for any donations you are able to give me. How much you want to donate is entirely up to you, consider what you think it's worth and what you can afford. You can also order custom Csound instruments off me.
There's a fair chance you will need my help to get it up an running, it is not the typical "off the shelf" music software. Do not hesitate to ask for assistance in getting it to work.
You can download it under the ImproSculpt software section of this web site.
You can read more about my band project with this software under the ImproSulpt project section, and finally, you can listen to some music made with the software under the Music section of this web site.

Custom Csound Instruments:

I currently offer custom audio software build with Csound. If you have specific needs, contact me for pricing and info. If you want a custom live sampler ala ImproSculpt, or a completely new electronic instrument, don't hestitate to ask.