Pd Repertory Project

Version 13: 2021.03.24

This is the HTML documentation for the Pd Repertory Project, which aims to provide patches that can run selected pieces of the live electronic music repertory using the Pd program. You can obtain Pd from msp.ucsd.edu/software.htm. This package itself currently lives in msp.ucsd.edu/pdrp/ and works on linus, Windows, or MacOS. The patches here require Pd version 0.41 or later, but were last tested using Pd 0.51.

The Pd Repertory Project is developed by Miller Puckette, with Kerry Hagan and Arshia Cont. Parts of this documentation were adapted from this paper which was presented at ICMC 2001, Havana.


Installing the patches on your machine
Running the patches
Performance Instructions
Score following:

Score following
Example: Risset, Sketches
risset-duet MIDI transformations inspired by Risset's Duet for One Pianist.
tenney-collage Sampling and montage, inspired by James Tenney, Collage #1, also with a nod to Steve Reich's Piano Phase .
chowning-stria FM synthesis and non-twelve-tone musical scales, inspired by Stria.
harvey-mortuos sinusoidal analysis and reconstruction of timbers, inspired by Mortuos Plango, Vivos Voco.
dodge-song, inspired by Charles Dodge, Speech Songs.
Pierre Boulez, Dialogue de l'Ombre Double, for clarinet, clarinet, and live electronics. (Documentation only; the patch is not yet published.)
Philippe Manoury, Pluton, for piano and live electronics.
Philippe Manoury, Jupiter, for flute and live electronics.
Rand Steiger, 13 Loops, for solo flute, viola, cello, bass clarinet, and marimba.
Karlheinz Stockhausen, Mantra, for two pianos and electronics.


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The last 35 years have seen the development of a significant repertory of music involving concert instruments whose sound is enhanced or transformed using live electronics. The realizations of many of these pieces have depended on specific items of hardware or software which, while chosen for their expediency at the times of the premieres of the pieces, will eventually become impossible to find, and in some cases are already becoming scarce.

The Pd repertory project provides realizations of four important pieces from this repertory. It is hoped that this collection will expand to include at least a dozen pieces for solo instrument or small ensemble and electronics.

In addition to making it much easier to perform these specific pieces, the project aims to to fill three other useful functions. First, the realizations will serve to document the pieces in a way that will be useful to musicologists. Second, they will serve as a model showing how one might realize pieces involving real-time electronics in a less ephemeral way than is now often the practice. Finally, these realizations should be able to attain a higher level of audio quality than previous ones.

The new realizations are based on generic hardware running Linux. The choice of Linux was made on the basis of the great stability of the ``*nix'' operating systems in time (many programs from the early 80s still compile and run today), and also because we have found Linux particularly well adapted to real-time interactive audio synthesis and processing.

The pieces are realized using the Pd program, because it is available with source so that people should be able to recompile it at will in the future, and for its platform independence.

Installation instructions

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This section tells you how to install the Pd Repertory materiels on your machine. The same "install" should work for teaching studios and home machines (for study purposes) or for actually playing the pieces in concert. If someone has already installed the materials on the machine you're using then you don't need to read this.

System Requirements

The stablest platform for running the repertory patches is a PC running linux, but they should also be possible to run under Windows, Mac OSX, and perhaps other operating systems. Each specific piece has its own requirements in memory, CPU speed, and I/O. The very maximum you might need is the equivalent of a 2.4 GHZ Pentium 4 machine with 256M RAM, one MIDI channel in and out, five audio channels in and eight out. (Most of the patches require much less than this.) All the patches can be run for testing with only two channels in and out.

Some systems don't offer low-latency audio throughput. Ideally, you should install Pd in such a way as not to exceed 10 milliseconds of latency, although in practice, 20 is usually acceptable if you can't do any better than that. More on this issue can be found in Pd's reference documentation. In general, Linux offers the lowest latencies. Under Windows, the latency you can attain depends not only on your audio hardware, but also on the specific driver used (MMIO vs. ASIO.)

Installing the patches OSX

As of PDRP version 13 (2021), the patches are each distributed as separate files, so that they can be updated independently. Each file contains a copy of its own documentation, so that you can read it from this page or by pointing a browser at the local version. To run the files, un-archive them (expand the ".tgz" file onto your local disk), open the resulting folder (such as "manoury-pluton"), and open the main patch. (The main patches have a variety of names, like "main.pd", "pluton.pd", "song.pd", etc., but you should be able to figure out which one to open without much trouble.)

Missing Soundfiles One repertory piece, Saariaho's Noanoa , requires about 60 megabytes of soundfiles to play. In addition, many of the pieces should come with soundfiles that you could use to test the patch, although you would't need them for a performance; and the "Tenny Collage" example, which is only a study patch, should have accompanying soundfiles. These are not included in this distribution both for copyright and space reasons. You can get the files for Noanoa from the publisher (see the documentation for that specific piece) and you can "rip" materiels for "Collage". Unfortunately, so far there's no way you can get the test files for the various other pieces except by recording them yourself.

Running the patches

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Performance instructions

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The following instructions are generally valid for all the pieces, but in addition each should have instructions specific to itself, describing the hardware setup, how to check and run the piece, and whether and how to customize the patch for various contingencies.

None of the patches are exactly as they were in the latest performance, and it is necessary to check them carefully before attempting to use any of them on stage. Some have only been touched up and kept current, whereas others have been extensively revised.

Where possible, the patches have been tested with soundfiles to verify that they at least do approximately the right thing. Thees soundfiles are usually not available to the public for copyright reasons, but it is well worth it to make your own recordings to verify that the patch works, plus to check speaker placement and audio levels, without having to keep the musicians on call. Some of the patches have built-in recording and playback facilities for this.

Pieces with more than two channels of output have a "stereo" toggle which mixes the output down to two channels so you can test things without needing a multichannel setup.


Some of the pieces have stringently defined speaker arrangements, whereas others offer more freedom to customize things to individual performance spaces. Customizing speaker arrangements usually will require customizing the patch; search for "dac~" to find all the outputs, and reassign or re-mix outputs as needed.

One piece, Noanoa, calls for a foot pedal, which may be either a joystick switch or a MIDI controller. You'll have to edit the patch according to your setup.