#music #synthesizer #modular #pretty-print


A compositional library for musical composition

19 releases

0.4.3 Mar 15, 2024
0.4.2 Mar 15, 2024
0.3.6 Sep 6, 2023
0.3.1 May 8, 2023
0.1.7 Mar 15, 2023

#71 in Audio

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A compositional library for musical composition.


If you want to see pointillism in action and what it's capable of, run the examples in the examples folder. There's also many simple examples scattered throughout the source code, showing off different features.

For a starting example, see the create docs.

Note: Some examples may be loud, dissonant, and/or jarring. Hearing discretion is advised.


The default way in which pointillism outputs audio is by writing sample by sample into a 32-bit floating point .wav file. Internal calculations use 64-bit floating points.

For convenience, the Signal trait is provided. Types implementing this trait generate sample data frame by frame. If the type also implements SignalMut, it can be advanced or retriggered.

Signals may be composed to create more complex signals, using for instance the eff::MapSgn and eff::MutSgn structs. Moreover, you can implement the Signal and SignalMut traits for your own structs, giving you vast control over the samples you're producing.

Naming scheme

The pointillism code has a lot of moving parts, and a bunch of similarly named types. Because of this, we rely on the prelude to categorize things neatly.

Every type has a three-letter namespace which helps categorizes it. The main namespaces are as follows:

Namespace Full Name Contents
[buf] buffers Audio buffers and associated traits.
[crv] curves Basic oscillator shapes, and builder methods for more complex ones (in the future).
[ctr] control Control structures, which allow for events to happen at specified time intervals.
[eff] effects For effects, meaning types that alter other signals.
[map] map Basic maps and associated traits.
[gen] generators Types that generate a signal "on their own". This includes the basic oscillators like gen::Loop and gen::Once.
[sgn] signal Traits on signals, including the basic Signal and SignalMut.
[smp] smp Basic traits and types for sample types, including smp::Mono and smp::Stereo.
[rtn] routing Structures for mixing or combining different signals together.
[unt] units Different units for musical measurement, and associated arithmetical boilerplate.

Note that traits are always imported when the prelude is imported. This simplifies some complex impl declarations, and also makes the trait methods available whenever.

Some of these namespaces also contain further nested namespaces, almost always three letters. See the documentation for the full breakdown.


You can think of pointillism as a compile-time modular synthesizer, where every new struct is its own module.

Advantages of this design are extensibility and generality. It's relatively easy to create a highly customizable and complex signal with many layers by composing some functions together.

The downside is that these synths end up having unwieldy type signatures. Moreso, it's really hard to build synths in real time.


The project uses the following features:

Feature Enables
hound* Saving songs as WAV files.
cpal Playing songs in a dedicated thread.
midly Reading and playing back MIDI files.
human-duration* Pretty-printing for the unt::RawTime type.

* Features marked with an asterisk are enabled by default.


Future goals of pointillism are:

  • (Better) algorithmic reverbs
  • Limiters, compressors, sidechaining
  • Me making a whole album with it :D


This is a passion project made by one college student learning about DSP. I make no guarantees on it being well-designed, well-maintained, or usable for your own goals.

If you just want to make music with code, and especially if you enjoy live feedback, SuperCollider and Pure Data will most likely be better alternatives for you.

That said, if you happen to stumble across this and make something cool, please let me know!

License: MIT OR Apache-2.0


~491K SLoC