Declarative Amsterdam

Functional, Declarative Audio Applications

Nick Thompson

Audio software, and particularly digital signal processing, is an application domain where the imperative, object oriented programming model dominates. In part, this can be justified by the realtime constraints that underly the domain, and that C/C++ has historically dominated the high performance native software landscape. But this is not without cost: the high barrier to entry prevents developers from trying to write audio software, and the industry spends far more time than needed to deliver new products. 

In this talk, we'll look at some of the complications that come from writing low level native audio software in C/C++ with an imperative, object oriented model. Then we'll reframe the conversation to show why a functional, declarative approach may be fundamentally more fitting for the problems we want to tackle when writing new audio software.

Finally, I'll introduce Elementary Audio: a new JavaScript runtime for writing realtime, native audio applications with a functional, declarative API. We'll see how Elementary applies the declarative model to audio software, and then finish with a detailed example of a small drum synthesis library written in Elementary.

Presentation, 5 November 2021
Nick Thompson is an audio software developer, contractor, and consultant. He is the owner of a small audio plugin company, Creative Intent, and the author of Elementary Audio and React-JUCE. Nick's interest lies in tools that enable and promote creativity and simplicity, both in music making and in software development.