Back in May of 2014, Erik approached Jon and I about a brilliant idea he had for us to make robot sounds for Ronnie’s ‘voices’ with Pure Data. The classic R2D2 sounds can be made with this program which is what got us interested in trying it out. We are all pretty big Star Wars nerds, so of course we wanted to see what it was all about.
When I started researching the tutorials that Erik suggested to gain an understanding of what Pure Data is, it reminded me of some of the anxiety I had when I had my first experience with using the Apple 2E to write a vector program as an assignment. Knowing nothing about computers at the time, this seemed like an impossible feat. When I asked some of my friends who were experienced with all kinds of music and sound making software, none of them were familiar with it. No one I know had any experience using Pure Data to make sounds. For Jon it reminded him of the Lego Robotics programs, which is a lot more fun that vector assignments on the Apple 2E.
I watched the first tutorial and all I could think of was what the learning curve was for being able to apply the knowledge I was about to gain to create the unique sounds that would come from Ronnie. The sounds that came out of Pure Data were awesome and eerie at the same time. It was one of our early work experiences that seemed like a great idea at the time. We quickly learned that more work than it’s worth for us. Jon understood the mechanics of it but didn’t really understand what those things would look like or sound like in the end. He knew how to put things in there but didn’t understand how to make it things that we wanted it to do.
In the end, I would only recommend trying it out if you’ve got a lot of time to manipulate and record the intended sounds that you might get out of it. It’s fairly limiting in what you can do, but it’s also a lot of fun to try out. We found it difficult to get specific enough sounds that we were satisfied with using in the app, but you might find something really useful and since the program is free, it might save you some money in the end.
For a good introduction to the R2D2 sounds you can go here: http://www.obiwannabe.co.uk/tutorials/html/tutorial_droids.html
For tutorials and downloads for the program, this is your place: http://puredata.info/