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Re: Reflections on writing a sequencer

From: Joe Berkovitz <joe@noteflight.com>
Date: Wed, 25 Jul 2012 08:40:39 -0400
Message-ID: <CA+ojG-YNR48cBqWRvrioDe0JCGXSUh-O_sp2BHf6HFszJb1kcg@mail.gmail.com>
To: lonce wyse <lonce.wyse@zwhome.org>
Cc: public-audio@w3.org
Rate or tempo changes can be computed an arbitrary amount of time in
advance, just like notes.  The sequencer's job is to convert logical or
musical time (which can flow at a variable rate) into absolute time, which
is just a matter of more linear math.

I think that the real issue is the amount of time it takes for the
sequencer to respond to real time user interaction that affects playback,
e.g. a tempo slider gesture to name just one of many examples.

The good news is that the setTimeout throttling limitations only affect
windows that the user is not interacting with, in which case this issue
doesn't apply.

Having said all that I am also curious whether notes are schedulable fron
onaudioprocess handlers but I see no reason why not... nor any overriding
reason to do so yet.

On Jul 25, 2012 8:28 AM, "lonce wyse" <lonce.wyse@zwhome.org> wrote:

> Hi  -
>     Of course, you would want to generate events as short a time in to the
> future as possible in order to stay responsive to rate (or tempo) changes.
>     Ideally a JavaScriptAudioNode could be used as the event generator.
> It's onaudioprocess() method could check the length of the output buffer it
> is passed, and do nothing else but call "note on" events for other nodes it
> wants to play within that short period of time.
>     I haven't tried that yet, but would noteon events be handled properly
> when generated in this "just in time" manner? Would this be a violation of
> protocol to use a onaudioprocess() as what would amount to a rock-solid
> sample-accurate periodic callback function?
> Best,
>              - lonce
> On 25/7/2012 12:40 AM, Joseph Berkovitz wrote:
> HI Adam,
>  I think one general way to structure sequencer playback is as follows --
> I've used this approach with WebAudio successfully in the past:
>  1. Just before starting playback, take note of the AudioContext's
> currentTime property.  Add a small time offset to it, say 100 ms.  The
> result will be your performance start time, corresponding to time offset
> zero in your sequencer data.  (The time offset provides a short window in
> which to schedule the first events in the sequence).
>  2. Create a scheduler function that will run periodically, which
> examines the AudioContext's currentTime and subtracts the previously
> captured startTime. That gives you a "current performance time" at the
> moment the callback occurs, expressed in terms of your sequencer
> data.  Then create AudioNodes representing all sequencer events that occur
> within an arbitrary time window after this current performance time (say,
> several seconds) and schedule them with noteOn/noteOff.
>  3. Call the function immediately, and also use setInterval() or
> setTimeout() to schedule callbacks to the above function on some reasonable
> basis, say every 100-200 ms. The exact interval is not important and can be
> tuned for best performance.
>  This approach is relatively insensitive to callback timing and in
> general allows audio to be scheduled an arbitrary interval in advance of
> its being played.
>  ...Joe
>  On Jul 24, 2012, at 11:40 AM, Adam Goode wrote:
> Hi,
>  Yesterday I tried to write an extremely simple sequencer using webaudio.
> My goal was to have a tone play periodically, at a user-selectable low
> frequency interval.
>  The main problem I ran into was the difficulties in scheduling events
> synchronized with the a-rate clock.
>  If I want to play a tone twice per second, I want to call this code in a
> loop, indefinitely:
>  var startTime = ....
> var o = c.createOscillator();
> o.connect(c.destination);
> o.noteOn(startTime);
> o.noteOff(startTime + 0.1);
>  I can't just put it in a loop, I need to schedule this in a callback,
> when necessary to fill the event queue. But what callback to use?
> setInterval is not appropriate, since the setInterval clock will skew
> quickly from c.currentTime. And busy looping with setInterval(0) will
> consume a lot of CPU and gets throttled when switching tabs (try putting
> the drum machine demo in a background tab and see).
>  My solution was this:
>  var controlOscillator = c.createOscillator();
> controlOscillator.frequency.value = 2;
> var js = c.createJavaScriptNode(256, 1, 0);
> controlOscillator.connect(js);
>  js.onaudioprocess = function(e) {
>    ... detect positive zero crossing from control oscillator ...
>   if (zeroCross) {
>     var o = c.createOscillator();
>     o.connect(c.destination);
>     var startTime = ... zero crossing offset + playbackTime ...
>     o.noteOn(startTime);
>     o.noteOff(startTime + 0.1);
>   }
> };
>  This does work (except for missing playbackTime
> https://bugs.webkit.org/show_bug.cgi?id=61524, needing to connect the
> javascript node to destination, and another bug on chrome
> http://crbug.com/138646), but is awkward. There is also the question of
> having a disconnected graph: I am sending control data, not audio data, so
> I don't want to connect it to destination.
>  I essentially want to have a callback for getting new control data, to
> keep the event pipeline filled without overflowing any noteOn buffer or
> falling behind. Is the javascript node appropriate for this? I feel like
> there could be something more explicit, like a setInterval off of the audio
> context.
>  Adam
>         ... .  .    .       Joe
>   *Joe Berkovitz*
> President
>  * Noteflight LLC *
> 84 Hamilton St, Cambridge, MA 02139
> phone: +1 978 314 6271
> www.noteflight.com
Received on Wednesday, 25 July 2012 12:41:16 UTC

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