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Getting Started

ethancrawford edited this page Oct 2, 2021 · 6 revisions

Getting Started with Sonic Pi

This documentation will help you get started with the Sonic Pi app. We'll show you how to install it on your system, to launch it and finally how to program your first musical composition.

Installation

Sonic Pi is currently available for: Windows, macOS and Raspberry Pi OS. (Note that other Linux distros are not officially supported!)

Installing Sonic Pi is simple. Head over to https://sonic-pi.net/ and download the latest version for your platform. Then double click the downloaded installer and follow the instructions shown.

Notes for Raspberry Pi OS:

  • The version of Sonic Pi bundled with Raspberry Pi OS is outdated and partially broken, so it's recommended to download and install the latest version from the website. See https://github.com/sonic-pi-net/sonic-pi/issues/2783#issuecomment-857285479 for more info.
  • When installing the .deb package, you will see all the dependencies download and install. You'll be asked to enable realtime mode for something called Jack. Simply say yes at the dialogue to continue.

Launching

After installation, you should be able to find Sonic Pi in the start/applications menu on your system. Make sure your speakers or headphones are plugged in before starting Sonic Pi!

Note for Raspberry Pi OS: Sonic Pi requires a windowed environment. Make sure you're either booting your Pi straight into X11 or type startx at the terminal prompt after you log in. The Sonic Pi application can then be launched using the 'start menu' at the bottom left of the screen.

Your first sound

The first command to learn is play this takes a number as a parameter. For example:

play 60

Type play 60 into the text pane and pressing the play button. You should hear a simple bell-like pling sound!

Try changing 60 to other numbers. What happens if you choose a number too low or high? You might be interested to know that these numbers are MIDI numbers. See the following link for how MIDI relates to a piano and more standard note names: http://www.phys.unsw.edu.au/jw/notes.html

Your first piece

The next command to learn is sleep which also takes a number as a parameter. In this case the number doesn't represent pitch, it represents time:

sleep 1

This will force the program to pause for one second. You can use sleep to add delays in your composition allowing you to create a melody. Try writing a bunch of play and sleep commands such as:

play 60
sleep 0.25
play 62
sleep 0.5
play 66

Go ahead and start writing your own pieces!

Troubleshooting

If you're having trouble getting Sonic Pi working, check Troubleshooting Issues for tips and advice on common issues, and how to get support from the community.