Introduction To Impromptu

Impromptu is a programming environment that is intended to assist in the creation of computational arts of all varieties and is completely new to me.

It is designed for OS X, and this is probably part of the reason I have not come across it before since it was only November that I seriously started using a Mac.

Impromptu uses the Scheme programming language and is particularly suited to live programming, however in using it myself, it is obvious that the features built into it to assist live programming make regular programming much easier as well since changes can be made on the fly.

Impromptu is developed by Andrew Sorenson from QUT. As I am studying computational arts at QUT, it would be almost impossible to not come across Impromptu sooner or later.

My tutor and lecturer have both commented that as far as generating computational audio, Impromptu is one of the best development environments as it is oriented strongly around time and timing so that things can be scheduled accurately. Apparently other environments over periods of time can start to get slightly out of time, where Impromptu doesn’t.

It also supports a whole heap of graphic generating options, such as OpenGL rendering and vector drawing, along with many more, which is quite nice.

I haven’t used it in depth, but my experience with it thus far is that it is very straight forward and simple to use. I have never written anything in Scheme before, but it seems easy to learn and the Impromptu environment helps make it even easier.

The audio that is used is MIDI generated and follows the standard outlined on the MIDI Manufacturers Association website.

Thus far I have seen examples of and written my own drum kit, bass line, and I have been experimenting with an entire musical piece as well, slowly. I’ll be going through these things a bit later on.

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