The Theory and Technique of Electronic Music by Miller Puckette



Miller Puckette is the creator of Max and PureData. This is his opus on electronic music and DSP.

It is over 300 pages of densely packed genius and is freely available as a PDF.


LOL, another flashback to the electronic music program at UCSC. This is rather funny.


Did you study under Puckett or just use this text in school?


I studied under Peter Elsea and David Cope, both were wonderful to learn from and influence the way I think about organizing a music studio around a modular synth and generative music.

I think of Puckett a the guy who invented visual programming, and it’s only now that I realize he wrote the textbook I used back in college.


Hello, @biminiroad I am having a considerable amount of trouble stumbling and fumbling my way through the theory and usage behind Audulus v3, which I just bought 3 days ago, after a lot of back and forth making beats and melodies in Garage Band on my MacBook, and I was just wondering if you could point me in the direction of any other literature that will help me to better utilize Audulus for music production (that would help to complement the book you provided in your post, which, thanks for that) or perhaps another website that gives really great examples? Both would be preferable, but I am hopeful of either for assistance. I have watched a number of YouTube videos that make everything sound very easy, but I am not yet familiar with the terminology, and as mentioned earlier, a lot of this stuff seems very complex. I am a Linux support engineer and programmer by trade, and I have had some training in electrical/electronic theory, but that doesn’t seem to be quite enough and this app, while exciting and rewarding, is also frustrating and making me feel like a small inexperienced child trying to get through a university level calculus exam. I have never felt so incapable in my life. Any help you can point me in the direction is extremely helpful. Thanks in advance :smile:


Just curious if you could elaborate on that a little bit.


Hey Stevo! I just wanted to clarify by this - when you mean you’re not familiar with the terminology, are you not familiar with synth terminology at all? Like you don’t know your VCO from your VCA from your VCF? Or what control voltage is and does? Or what modulation is? If you give me a hint as to what exactly is befuddling you, I can get you good resources at that level :slight_smile:


Thanks so much for getting back to me, @biminiroad! You pretty much hit the nail on the head when you asked the quoted info above about what I am not quite able to grasp as all of those concepts in relation to music synthesis and how it works are currently shapeless fluffs of idea matter that I wish to better understand. I am vaguely familiar with the concept of the programming expressions I have seen here and there (i.e. variables, Boolean equivalency, if/else statements, things of this sort as I work regularly with scripting in Python and Bash in my day to day work, but it would be nice to know how exactly the code relates to music as this is not yet clear to me), and the idea of a control voltage makes sense to me if you mean what I think you do (like how you don’t use line voltage, and instead work with 24v from a thermostat to control your system relays, which then energize the coil and pull the relay gate to close and allow the 120-240v AC to flow through to your HVAC system and turn it off and on as the gate opens and closes with the temp). I guess overall, I’d like as much informational resources as possible, even if some of it is review material as I’d rather have too much and skim through the parts I know than not enough and miss something important that I don’t know, but should. I hope this makes sense. Thanks again for getting back to me and I just wanna say I think it is so cool to have such an active community helping each other out and posting their ideas and sharing wisdom they have obtained along the way. I am looking forward to making sense of these concepts and contributing back to the community in the future. Cheers! :slight_smile:


This is a great one-stop-shop for learning about the terms used in modular synthesis. I recommend, if you can, reading it from start to finish. Not everything will stick the first time, but when you see terms come up later, you’ll remember that the definition is here somewhere and can refer back to it.

As for Audulus in general, have you checked out @Robertsyrett’s videos? They’re exceptional:

His series on nodes is also super helpful:

You can also refer to the Audulus YouTube page here:

There’s a ton there, especially in the long forms of livestreams.

All in all, it’ll be easier to give you help if you’re more specific about your goals. Do you want to know how to use X kind of module, to create one yourself?, to do a certain type of synthesis? Once you know more, we can take it from there - it would be great also if you can start another Help topic about this rather than continuing the conversation in this thread since this is more for discussion about the link described :slight_smile:


My recommendation to you is to make pet projects with something extremely analogous like trying to imitate a guitar. The very old SOS tutorials make you…think. Think about what is going on with the sound. Aboutthe variables there. And while it’s more centered into imitating insutruments with substractive synthesis (you add all sounds then start removing parts…not a perfect analogy but close) it also has some additive synthesis (bottom up) like the Bell example. s you start to become more competent, you start thinking less about tools, and thinking more in terms of how sound is built, perceived, and influenced over time, and the impact of things you could do to sound, or more interestingly, abstract ideas you may have, and then trying to validate with experiments (tinkering with the idea).

What I found out to be the WORST most frustrating way to learn? The No no list fo me at the beginning?

1 - Tinker with complex patches
2 - Start adding things and try to stumble upon things I like
3 - Making complicated things I don’t understand well and then try to “fix them”
4 - Trying to absorb to much to quickly (really, it’s not about Audulus, it’s about thinking differently regarding sound, and there is an infinite amount of ways to do many things)
5 - Having no project. Creating a Flute, imitating a bird you have recorded on you phone, etc.
6 - Introducing samples and S&H to early.



That’s really such an important life lesson. Slow incremental learning really is the precondition for larger leaps in understanding to occur.


I haven’t updated this in a while, but I should - here’s a project I started to make tutorials that go along with all the SOS synth secrets articles!


2 posts were split to a new topic: Questions about iOS vs Computer Version


A post was merged into an existing topic: Questions about iOS vs Computer Version


Wow! Thanks so much @biminiroad @robertsyrett @fferreres you guys are all making me feel much more confident and less alone in my musical journey. I picked up a Nektar LX25+ MIDI controller a little over a week ago and eagerly exploring the world of Audulus and looking forward to joining the ranks of the more experienced users in the future. I am now trying to remember the bit of classical piano lessons I went through ~10 years ago. I got about six months into them before my daughter was born and had to stop my musical pursuit for the sake of more important things at the time (being a broke 23 year old father and trying to get all my priorities in order, music just didn’t make the cut). Now I am getting back into my dreams as I have improved a number of circumstances in my life and now have the ability to take on passion projects again :smile: Thanks again guys! I’m so grateful for your help and anxious to dig deeper, so this most definitely won’t be the last time you hear from me :wink:


I would say that every single thing you learn is a big deal. Electricity can be conceptualized through chemistry, which can be expressed in formulas. The formulas participate in logical conventions. Right, obviously.

Why not go a little further and ask about logical conventions? There are the conventions of Audulus, but there are also some of those that capture conventions in more basic logics. Sound synthesis is a construction of interrelated ‘whole languages’. By taking or treating a convention as binding in someway, this implies the structure of that which ‘treats’ and that which is ‘treated’ as being able to be: routed, pushed, turned, or respondent to the rise and fall of a waveform – of electricity – over time.

Again, that is, we agree about the rules of the game, where a move is made by drawing the limitations, constructing a ‘boarder’ around the functions that appear for users of modules made by people competent building. And its all there, opening further down into…basic logical functions, that inhabit dense modules who also interconnect under these rules.

Logic, round and round. For me, I like how raw physical analog circuitry manages to participate in a standardized set of chemico-physical-logical influence. Logic at many planes of ‘whole languages’. It is the nature of the tube amp, the transitors, the vactrols, that seem to please the human ear, where even the fizzy, ripping, digital whizz pop is appreciated in various applications. Really, this is the ancient forest with white dome dwellings and Ewok bridges (it’s just that the fusion of nature and future is happening sonically).


I was thinking about making an album made entirely of sine waves, then I remembered that all sound is made out sine waves.


Right, sine waves all the way down.