Assignment 1: Introduction to RTcmix

RTcmix is a program that generates or processes sound according to instructions you give it in a simple programming language. Because you use a programming language, it’s easy to make sound in response to an algorithm you design. The algorithm typically incorporates a certain amount of controlled randomness, letting the computer make some of the decisions when rendering the sound.

This is a very different approach from the way we work with sequencer-based tools, such as Digital Performer or Pro Tools, and their collections of plug-ins. Not better — just different. Most people take the sound produced by RTcmix and mix it in a DAW like Pro Tools.

RTcmix is an open source project. As a result, the source code for the program is free: it doesn’t cost anything, and you have the freedom to change the code. This second point probably doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it is. It means, at least in theory, that your creative work can be free from the constraints of some company’s business plan.

The source code for RTcmix is available at GitHub, documentation at

Normally people run RTcmix in a command-line environment, but there are other options, including rtcmix~, a Max object, and several editor programs that let you edit RTcmix scores and run them using an easy-to-use graphical interface. The one we will use in this course is the recently developed RTcmixShell.

Here’s what you should do this week.

  1. Open up the RTcmix Tutorial.
  2. Install the RTcmixShell program on your computer, and learn how to open and play RTcmix scores with it. The Running Scores section of the tutorial covers this.
  3. Continue with the tutorial, but stop just before the Looping and Randomness section. Make sure you type in the example scores listed in the tutorial; otherwise you won’t get much out of the experience.
  4. Write one RTcmix score that uses the WAVETABLE instrument to play a simple melody we might recognize. Connect with your inner chiptune self.
  5. Submit your score as Assignment 1 in Canvas.

Always be ready to play and discuss your scores in class on the day they are due.

Please bring a laptop running RTcmixShell to Thursday classes with you, if at all possible.

Copyright ©2009-2017 John Gibson