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Project Name:
CSound and Houdini
Download - Documentation - Release Notes - Examples

Overview of the project
This project emerged from a need to export data from Houdini into CSound score files, without the need for external parsers. The initial idea was to simply write the channels to disk mapping the channel data to the CSound score p-fields. This was sufficient for simple compositions but when there's a requirement for more complicated sound design and instrumental arrangements and scores, there was a need for a more elaborate scheme. With the introduction of VEX operators in Houdini, VOPs, afforded an easy method to "prototype" the individual CSound operators and the modeling of the "plugins" which will be developed with the HDK (Houdini Development Kit), much as one would use a formal software modeling language like UML (the Unified Modeling to design and test a application.

VOP operators have also provided a method to build a visual CSound instrument editor. Ultimately, there will be a few hundred new operators available in Houdini for sound designers to build complex synthesizers within Houdini and use any channel data available to control the synthesis. There's also the potential benefit of using CSound operators for channel data operations.

  • NOTE: The CHOP CSound score generator extension creates CSound score files which then are used by csound to create the actual audio file. The next phase of the project will have the CSound operators built-in to Houdini in such a fashion to allow audio generation without using CSound "externally" from Houdini.

What is CSound?
From the CSound book edited by Richard Boulanger:

“CSound is an incredibly powerful and versatile software synthesis program. Drawing from a toolkit of over 450 signal processing modules, one can use CSound to model virtually any commercial synthesizer or multi-effects processor. CSound literally transforms a personal computer into a high-end digital audio workstation — an environment in which the worlds of sound-design, acoustic research, digital audio production and computer music composition all join together in the ultimate expressive instrument. However, as with every musical instrument, true virtuosity is literally the product of both talent and dedication. You will soon discover that CSound is the ultimate musical instrument. But you must practice! In return, it will reward your commitment by producing some of the richest textures and uniquely beautiful timbres you have ever heard. In the audio world of CSound, knowledge and experience are the key... and your imagination the only limitation.”

Why CSound and Houdini?
While Houdini is one of the most versatile and powerful 3D applications available, it lacks the ability to design complex audio and signal processing networks that are common to contemporary musical synthesizers and composition systems. CSound is much like Houdini in that it is composed of a number of operators (functions) that are connected together in networks, passing data between them to create and/or modify an audio signal. So it seemed a natural "synthesis" to incorporate the CSound operators into the Houdini procedural environment and using the Houdini interface to design CSound instruments and integrate these instruments into Houdini animation.


Download software and Installation notes

Archive contents:
DSO for Linux, Linux x64, WIN32, and MacOSX
Example hip file
Doxygen documetation
Geometry files for examples
Install and developer notes


Source Code Documentation

Release Notes



The “floating sphere”: Basic examples of generating CSound scores from Houdini channels
“Flying logo”: A bit more complicated example using filtered noise, FM, and voice morphing.
“Particles”: An example of generating CSound scores from particle data
“Waves”: Wave terrain synthesis (coming soon)
“Singing Sea Shells”: Formant (FOF and FOG operators) (coming soon)
“Disintegrating Head”: Grain synthesis (coming soon)
“Orchestra & Choir”: Phase vocoder examples (coming soon)