RTcmix for Linux: Part 1

In the first part of this three-part series on real-time audio synthesis, we take you through the history and basis of RTcmix.

RTcmix is an incredibly powerful and flexible package because of the work of many people, and possible because of its open-source nature. Different features have been added by different people over the years. It continues to evolve. The Linux operating system has been an excellent platform both for development and performance. With the recent advent of high-end, multichannel digital audio card support for Linux (e.g., the RME Digi96 series), the abilities of RTcmix grow in conjunction with the OS.

This article only scratches the surface of RTcmix's potential. Future articles will discuss in greater depth the process of writing RTcmix instruments and controlling them in real time (e.g., with nice open-source GUI packages like GTK).

In the end, it remains amazing to think that a computer, operating system and software package can work together well enough to make music. It is, however, by no means new thinking. Ada Lovelace apparently debated at length with Charles Babbage the virtues of this “new computing device”. His contentions had to do with an unbeatable chess player, hers about a device that could compose and create music of any type or degree of complexity.


email: topper@virginia.edu

David Topper (topper@virginia.edu) is the technical director for the Virginia Center for Computer Music at the University of Virginia. Linux has been his primary OS since downloading 40 floppies' worth of Slackware (kernel 1.0.9) as a CS undergrad. It is one of his firmest beliefs that the computer can be to the human mind and spirit what the telescope was to the ancient astronomers, provided free software like Linux continues to thrive. His web page is at www.people.virginia.edu/~djt7p