Audio Programming

10 Free and Open Source Audio Programming Languages

In the current DIY environment, many musicians can expect to wear a number of different hats. Of course, musicians and singers play instruments or sing for live audiences and in recording studios. Practicing and rehearsing are also daily activities. They have always worn these hats. But there are many other duties that musicians and singers do themselves that have nothing to do with music; traveling to venues, finding locations for performances, and promoting their careers on websites and social media. They may also want to process and generate sound, and this is where audio programming languages step in.

Broadly speaking, musicians are generally technically engaged. The instruments themselves (the hardware) often interface with other devices (amps, mixers, mutes), and composers often encounter an array of different technologies to get their music written, performed and/or produced. With their leaning towards technology, musicians may therefore have an interest in audio programming. Because if you are a computer musician, computer scientist, engineer, and just anyone interested in audio, audio programming offers many possibilities with or without writing lines of code.

This article explores all the main free audio programming languages. They are all released under an open source license, and run on multiple platforms.

We have deliberately chosen not to rate the languages. They are listed in alphabetical order.

Let’s explore the 10 audio programming languages in detail. For each language we have compiled its own portal page, a full description with an in-depth analysis of its features, together with links to relevant resources.

Audio Programming Languages
ChucKOn-the-fly language for real-time sound synthesis and music creation
CsoundSound and music computing system
ExtemporeCyber-physical programming environment
FaustFunctional language for sound synthesis and audio processing
GlicolComputer music language and an audio DSP library
JFugueMusic programming for Java and JVM
ProcessingFlexible software sketchbook and language
Pure DataReal-time graphical environment for audio, video, and graphical processing
RTcmixDigital signal processing and sound synthesis language
SuperColliderPlatform for audio synthesis and algorithmic composition

Other languages include CLM, jMusic, Nyquist and Sonic Pi.


Read our complete collection of recommended free and open source software. The collection covers all categories of software.

The software collection forms part of our series of informative articles for Linux enthusiasts. There's tons of in-depth reviews, open source alternatives to proprietary software from large corporations like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, IBM, Cisco, Oracle and Autodesk. There are also fun things to try, hardware, free programming books and tutorials, and much more.
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