[flocking] Decoupling Signal Generation from Audio Domain

Colin Clark colin at colinclark.org
Sun Apr 16 16:18:56 UTC 2017

Hi Markus,

I'm glad to hear you're interested in Flocking. It's not quite clear to me exactly how you will translate audio signals into something suitable for lights and stroboscopes, so I can't really make any recommendations for you. But I think there are a few different ways you could do this with Flocking. Are you planning to use a web browser or Node.js?

One option, if you need to extract signals at audio rate, would be to write a "sink" unit generator that takes incoming audio signals and then, rather than outputting them to the speakers, operates on them in whatever way you need to for activating your lights. This will be synchronous, so you'll want to make sure whatever operations you're performing will return quickly enough to avoid dropouts.

But perhaps more appropriately, I can imagine that you really don't need to control your lights at audio rate at all, but at some much slower frequency—perhaps 60 Hz or so? In that case, you could create a flock.synth.frameRate synth, which is intended to be manually evaluated at non-audio rates (you can configure the frequency with the fps option). In this case, you won't typically add a frame rate synth to the Flocking environment, you'll just manually invoke its value() method at whatever clock rate you need. You may well want to use a separate scheduler of some kind, such as Bergson (https://github.com/colinbdclark/bergson <https://github.com/colinbdclark/bergson>). This is how I use Flocking to produce signals for my videos (e.g. https://vimeo.com/166157781 <https://vimeo.com/166157781>).

Here's a basic sketch of roughly what you might do:

var frameRate = 60;

// Create a scheduler powered by the browser's requestAnimationFrame callback.
var scheduler = berg.scheduler({
    components: {
        clock: {
            type: "berg.clock.requestAnimationFrame",
            options: {
                freq: frameRate


// Create a frame rate synthesizer. This one produces a period of a sine wave every two seconds.
var synth = flock.synth.frameRate({
    fps: frameRate,
    addToEnvironment: false,
    synthDef: {
        ugen: "flock.ugen.sinOsc",
        freq: 1/120

// Schedule an action to extract the value of your synth and do something with it every frame.
    type: "repeat",
    freq: frameRate,
    callback: function (now) {
        var currentValue = synth.value();
    	// Do something with your current value, like send it to a light.
Good luck with your project, and let me know how it goes!


> On Apr 14, 2017, at 4:25 AM, Markus Tretzmüller <a1528519 at unet.univie.ac.at> wrote:
> Hello,
> I’m fascinated by flockings easy and flexible style of signal generation. Me and some colleagues at the university are thinking about adopting it for light signal generation.
> Can you recommend flocking for such a use case? We basically replace the audio speakers with lights and stroboscopes. How can flocking be adjusted to serve this purpose? We need to hook in, and gather the signals right before forwarding them to the audio APIs. Any help would be appreciated.
> Best regards
> Markus Tretzmüller
> _______________________________________________
> flocking mailing list
> flocking at lists.idrc.ocad.ca
> http://lists.idrc.ocad.ca/mailman/listinfo/flocking

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