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Getting Help

You can press F1 or Ctrl+i with the keyboard cursor on something you want to look up, such as play. You’ll see the documentation for the feature in the help window at the bottom.

Remember Bubble Sort?

Do-Re-Mi

Here’s the code, if you want to run it yourself and make changes.

use_synth :piano
use_bpm 300
in_thread do
  for notes, times in [
      [[:c, :d, :e, :c, :e, :c, :e],
       [ 3,  1,  3,  1,  2,  2,  4]], # do
      [[:d, :e, :f, :f, :e, :d, :f],
       [ 3,  1,  1,  1,  1,  1,  8]], # re
      [[:e, :f, :g, :e, :g, :e, :g],
       [ 3,  1,  3,  1,  2,  2,  4]], # mi
      [[:f, :g, :a, :a, :g, :f, :a],
       [ 3,  1,  1,  1,  1,  1,  8]], # fa
      [[:g, :c, :d, :e, :f, :g, :a],
       [ 3,  1,  1,  1,  1,  1,  8]], # so
      [[:a, :d, :e, :fs, :g, :a, :b],
       [ 3,  1,  1,  1,   1,  1, 8]], # la
      [[:b, :e, :fs, :gs, :a, :b, :c5, :b, :bf],
       [ 3,  1,  1,   1,   1,  1,  4,   2,  2]], # ti
      [[:a, :f, :b, :g, :c5],
       [ 4,  4,  4,  4,  8]]
    ] do
      play_pattern_timed notes, times
    end
  end
  
  in_thread do
    use_synth :dsaw
    play_pattern_timed [:c2, :g1, :c2, :f1, :c2, :f2, :fs2, :g2, :gs2, :a2, :f2, :g2, :c2],
      [16, 16, 16, 16, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8], attack: 1, sustain: 4, release: 2, amp: 0.3
  end
  
  in_thread do
    32.times do
      sample :drum_cowbell, amp: 0.2  # Needs more cowbell?
      sleep 4
    end
  end

Playing a Timed Pattern of Notes

Here’s a simple example. Recognize it? Can you hear it in your head before playing it?

use_bpm 180
use_synth :pretty_bell
play_pattern_timed [:c, :e, :c, :e, :c, :f, :e, :ef], [1, 2, 1, 2, 1, 2, 1, 2]
  • use_bpm sets the tempo, in beats per minute.
  • use_synth selects the synthesizer (sound generator) to use. Which ones do you like? The names appear automatically after you type in use_synth, and you can choose them one by one.
  • play_pattern_timed plays a sequence of notes, holding each for the number of beats specified in the second sequence. The first c plays for 1 beat, the next note, e, plays for 2 beats, and so on.

Play with one or more of these programs for a while, then I’ll explain in more detail how they work, and perhaps introduce you to some more features.

Here’s another example.

# https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fr%C3%A8re_Jacques
use_bpm 120
2.times do
  play chord(:c4, :major)
  play_pattern [:c5, :d5, :e5, :c5]
end
2.times do
  play chord(:c4, :major)
  play_pattern_timed [:e5, :f5, :g5], [1, 1, 2]
end

As you might guess, 2.times do means do the indented part (up until the end) two times.

  • play chord plays the type of chord you would like.
  • play_pattern plays a sequence of notes, holding each for one beat.
  • play_pattern_timed plays notes, holding each for the specified duration.

Simulating Making a Phone Call

Copy and paste this program into Sonic Pi and run it. Do you recognize those sounds?

Effects

Here’s an example of using the slicer effect.

with_fx(:slicer, phase: 0.1) do
  play :c, sustain: 4
end

Reverberation

Sample program

Try increasing the room value gradually from 0 to 1.

with_fx(:reverb, room: 0, mix: 0.6) do
  3.times do
    sample :bass_hit_c
    sleep 1.0 / 4
  end
end

Silly Reverb Example

use_synth :zawa
with_fx(:reverb, room: 0.8, mix: 0.6) do
  loop do
    play rrand_i(10, 40)
    sleep rrand_i(0.3, 3)
  end
end

Panning

Here’s an example with crows.

pan1 = 1
pan2 = -1

live_loop :one do
  if pan1 > 0
    sample :misc_crow, pan: pan1
    pan1 -= 0.1
  end
  sleep rrand(1, 3)
end

live_loop :two do
  if pan2 < 0
    sample :misc_crow, pan: pan2
    pan2 += 0.1
  end
  sleep rrand(0, 2)
end

Four Bars of Boogie Wonderland

Copy the code into Sonic Pi. It is easier to copy if you push Raw first.

Code on github

Beats and Octaves

We’ll play with variations of this program to hear sounds interfering with each other, and to understand intervals such as octaves.

use_synth_defaults release: 8
play 72, pan: -1
play 72.1, pan: 1

Sonic Pi Quiz

Take ten minutes to research your answers to these questions. Work in pairs or larger groups if you like.

  • How do you play a note, panned to
    • the left
    • center
    • right
    • halfway between the center and the right
  • Explain attack, sustain and release
  • Describe at least one way to have multiple players (“band members”) playing at the same time
  • Name two synths that you like
  • Name two samples that you like