Learning C for the aleph - a confused's cry for help

I’m growing more and more fond of my aleph, and with a growing interest in coding, I’d love to get a level deeper with it.
I have a basic understanding of C, but still working on it and learning, but as that is a vast subject, I’d like to focus on things that would benefit my understanding of the aleph’s code.
I have programmed a little bit of microcontrollers also on a basic level.

I’ve been looking around in the source code, and I seem to understand bits and pieces, but it still is bit of a mouthful to understand.
First of all i guess i’d just like to program some custom operators for bees or something not to complicated, eventually maybe doing some dsp.
Does anyone have any good suggestions on where to go, where to start? I know it’s a big question, and it does feel a bit odd to pose it, but I don’t know where to go. I’ve got the time and the enthusiasm.


Could I ask you a few more questions?

Do you know any other programming languages? And could you tell us what micro controller you used and what software you used to do.

What OS are you using?

Have you used the command line much?

Have you used Supercollider or CSound before?

Of course, and thank you for your fast reply.

I’m on OS X. But I’ve got a virtual box running ubuntu. I know my way around ubuntu, but have only used it a little bit when following a DSP course on coursera Audio signal processing for musical applications.
I’ve used python, mainly for the above mentioned course, for non-real time signal processing, FFT’s and visualization of signals and processes.
I know a decent amount of max (not really a language of course), and I’ve been in and out of supercollider. I’ve written a couple of things in SC that I’ve used in “real life” with my grid but never anything big, but i understand it, the syntax and the basics. I haven’t used Csound
I used command line, but mainly when following instructions or when running python scripts for processing samples for my mungo modules, and things like that. So not that much experience there.

Concerning microcontroller it was completely not related to music. I learned using the texas instrument launchpad with a MSP430 and a breadboard to get an understanding of registers, peripherals, timers, adc’s, dac’s and all that, but also ways to structure small programs with interupts and these sort of things. It was mainly things that would go blinky, or push buttons, or drag sliders or potentiometers… so fairly basic.

I don’t know if diving in to the next level of the aleph is to grand an undertaking, it just seems like the box gets better and better each time I go next level. And I am not looking to master it in 30 days, I am looking for directions to go in, knowing that it will be a long way.

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Thanks for the detailed response. I’m not a big Aleph expert, though others here are, but I know lots about the Monome Eurorack modules, which have some similarities from a code point of view.

It sounds like you’ve got enough of a basic programming understanding to be able to dip into to something simple, but that you might get tripped up by the process of getting it compiled.

Have you been able to compile any of the Aleph code yourself? Either Bees or one of the DSP modules?

No I haven’t compiled anything, and you are completely right, that is one of the things where I’m completely blank on what to do.
Maybe I should start with trying to look into the modules code. I haven’t really looked into that, as that has always seemed very well done and haven’t thought of wanting to modify or add anything there. I haven’t set up any toolchain for all of this, and haven’t really compiled anything “by hand” before…

From what I know, getting Bees to compile should be your starting point. Bees runs on the AVR32 processor (not the Blackfin where the DSP code runs). You can do this from OSX, but it might be easier to start in your Ubuntu VM.

@zebra and @rick_monster what’s the best Aleph codebase to start from?

@AndersSkibsted do you know anything about git? To what extent do you want to learn about it?

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@AndersSkibsted i too would like to write for the aleph. so far it has been a long road for me. i’m glad though, because i’ve learned a lot.

you may know these pages : general instructions on getting started and bees op dev guide (in this last page, you’ll find links to set up the toolchain for bees).

while i’m trying to build from source for os x, i’ve met git/github, homebrew, command lines. (all this is not 100% clear yet but i’m getting to it). the point is : i’m trying to follow @zebra, @rick_monster and now @sam’s advice :

getting Bees to compile should be your starting point

then i guess following the ‘bees op dev guide’ should be the next step.

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I don’t have experience with git, but as soon as I’m able to contribute with anything i planned on learning and using git.

Many bugfixes & enhancements in the latest tarball I posted, as compared to the official monome dev branch (last time I checked the official):


You can just download that file & unpack it using a suitable utility program. On a linux with the tar program installed, type:

tar -xvzf aleph_sktk1a.tar.gz

have a look back through the aleph user study group thread - posted some notes there for this ‘non-release’, describing bugfixes & improvements made…

@AndersSkibsted, @beo If more developers become active or come out of hibernation I will put up a public git repository so we can collaborate…

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i’m looking forward to it.
meanwhile i’ll be working to set the environment up (and to understand what i do).

I’ll be doing the same thing.
At least trying to get the compiling of bees to work as a first step, and look a bit more into the code of some ops

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