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A tool for writing csound scores that can make handling microtones MUCH easier.

Project description



  • Make sure you have Python and Csound installed

  • Choose as install method, pip or git (pip is recommended if you have it)

From pip:

    pip install microcsound

From git:

Either download from the 'dist' directory here, or:

    git clone

Once downloaded, in the 'microcsound' directory:

    python -m pip install .

  • Files will be installed into a Python lib directory on your system. E.G., on a Linux system, something like /usr/local/lib/Python3.11

  • Copy .microcsound.toml to your home user directory, edit the values to your preferences


Microcsound implements the following features:

  • an intuitive, clean shorthand syntax that allows one to both easily write CSound scores

  • a focus on flexible entry of microtonal music, the emphasis being on enabling one to compose in various equal-temperaments and just intonation.

  • symbols for various microtonal commas, so that extended just intonation harmony is easily accessible in a convenient intuitive way.

  • implementation of chord notation using brackets

  • implementation of a 'time pointer' notation which allows arbitrary number of counterpoint layers in a single 'voice'

See the example '' (a rendering of a medieval piece, given in the repo path microcsound/share/data/ and the tutorials/docs for an understanding of how to use the syntax for your own compositions.

To use:

It's best to start by seeing all the command-line options, so first, try:

         $ microcsound -h

After writing a little example in a file you might name '', try this:

         $ microcsound

The script outputs a wave file to the current directory, by default the wave is called 'microcsound_out.wav', but you can change this using the '-o' command line switch. If you use the '-s', it will avoid the final step of compiling the orc/score pair and just put a csound score to standard out. To put this output into a file, use redirection like so:

         $ microcsound -s > yourcsoundscore.sco

You could also use an editor like 'joe' or 'emacs' that allows the capture of the text output of a process, and call the script from within the editing session of a .csd (orc+sco) file; in this way one can be between the and tags and fill the space with the script output.

For realtime experimentation, just call the script with the name of a csound '.orc' file, you can edit the variables at the top of the script so that it automatically looks for orchestra files in a default directory.

For instance:

	$ microcsound -i --orc fat_moog.orc

will give you a prompt, and you can type in a microcsound 'score', and when you want it rendered, hit return and type 'done' and then hit return again. In this example above, it will search in the directory I provided in the script for the 'fat_moog.orc' file.

See the csound documentation for how to use all the options and command line switches to get the final audio output from csound. The csound command called by the script can be changed at the top of the script in the "user variables" area.


Aaron Krister Johnson

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