Make Your First Sound in Pure Data

Pure Data is an open source app that allows you to experiment with sound, video and physical media such as the Arduino. It also can run on the Raspberry Pi.

Files in Pure Data are known as ‘patches’ which is a term that comes from the early days of synthesizers where you had to connect everything using patch cables. You can see this in the interface as well since you connect virtual objects with wires.

This is a simple patch to demonstrate how quickly you can get started making sound in Pure Data.


  1. Make sure you have Pure Data installed – the best place to start is PD-Extended
  2. Download the following patch and open it: synth.pd
  3. Check your Audio settings in the menu: Media… Audio Settings (usually you will be using Built-in Output)
  4. This is a good time to just check that you don’t have the sound levels on your computer blasted. Set it to half just to be safe.
  5. Turn on DSP to actually start generating sound: Media… DSP On

You should start to hear the sound, and you can adjust the volume and the pitch with the sliders. Double click on PD Synth to see what’s running the synth. It’s a sine wave generator (osc~), followed by a multiplier (*~), which is used to keep the volume low when it starts (0.3).

The next post will show you how to connect your Arduino to this patch, so you might want to subscribe in order to be notified when that gets posted.

You can also watch the playlist Sound Art Installation in Pure Data.

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