Why do you use SuperCollider?

Got a question in another thread…

It wasn’t related to that thread, but it’s a good question – and one that could spark some interesting storytelling. So I thought, why not open a new thread for it?

To answer that question – I’ve been using SC for about 18 years. I think it was right at the end of 2002 that I got hold of the free release of SC2, and quickly switched to SC3.

In my MIDI work, I was always interested in materials that seem to be repeating but which are slightly different from bar to bar. I spent hours making little tweaks to MIDI sequences by hand – it’s a key element of my electronic style. It didn’t take long after starting with SC to figure out that algorithmic, generative techniques were ideal for this style feature. So, to me, programming to make music isn’t a compromise or a technical exercise – it’s a better way to produce the textures that I would have made by hand otherwise. Also I was long interested in live performance where it doesn’t just loop, and where I can improvise the overall musical direction. With live coding, I’m finally in that territory in the last few years. (Last week I had an hour long set in a very good electronic music club in Shenzhen, China – it’s amazing to me to see SC handling a lot of processing over a long time span, and not crash.)

There are other factors, such as, I have mixing and note control frameworks with 15 years history – rebuilding in another environment now would grind me to a halt for an uncomfortably long time. So I stay in a place where I’ve got things working basically the way I want (though, 4 years ago or so, I was finding a lot of bugs and considered abandoning it – I’m glad I didn’t, as SC 3.11 is generally very stable).



i use it as a hobby - but it’s a hobby i’m practically obsessed with - it is the perfect instrument to do music for music’s sake and coding for coding’s sake


I’ve used it for installations, as a DAW, to mockup apps, for soundtracks. I’ve made work for hire, and work for love too.

I’m after an environment where I can work on the work, or work on the toolset using the same interface… And to be free from any governing visual interface.


I mostly use it to automate things that would by very tedious to do by hand, like generating large pieces from simple specifications, (typically melodic/harmonic cells), or based on mutating fragments with systematic procedures (which may or may not include randomness).

Supercollider is ideal for doing all the “boring” work while I can concentrate on just composing the smaller cells or rules that interact with the cells. If this sounds too abstract, and you are curious, check out this example on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0mbFcr1_CM I wrote the cells, and supercollider unrolls them into a complete piece; another example would be this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YwAMalaWNQE where I mutated music material using systematic rules)


I started using SuperCollider about a year and half ago. I use it for quite a few different things:

  1. Midi and synth sequencing - I really love the pattern manipulation capabilities in SC.

  2. Sound design experiments. I often wonder what some things would sound like, rather artificial things like what if you swapped out sine wave frequencies at every other zero, or what does the Weierstrass fractal sound like. (Of course usually these things sound terrible.) Supercollider is the nicest environment I’ve found for such experiments.

  3. I’d like to get more into making graphical interfaces with SC, but I haven’t done too much with that yet. I recently got into VCV rack which overlaps some of that, although designing a module in VCV rack is harder than making something simple in SC.

1 Like

FWIW, feel compelled to contribute to the forum where i lurch and learn so much.

You can do so much in just a few lines of code.

I have been using it sporadicly since the first time i met a gentleman named Fredrik Olofsson whom i blame everything. He is a bo$$ in any language but he first he fooled me into learning enough Max/MSP to execute the ideas i was wrestling with at the time (this was when everyone was was anxious to take the step from Mac OS 9.2 to the X). Credit where credit is due, it’s all Olofssons fault, he was a baller in SC already back then, but at the time I wasn’t appreciative of the beauty of reading and writing code as poetry.

Then years later when the Wire Magazine released the sc140 compilation i was floored and realized i was on the wrong path, creating mayhem in as few lines of code as possible is where it is @ for me.


Since that i left the MAX/MSP realm (except by proxy in Ableton Live). Most of the music i have released the last decade have some SC generated elements embedded.

I write sounds with SC as therapy for myself and it is all because of the way the language (and the IDE) encourage exploring things. I actually like everything about SC except the pain to whip up GUI stuff.

You can do so much in just a few lines of code.

Anyways. end of rant. (:slight_smile: