Using a Raspberry Pi as a synthesiser

Synthesiser? Synthesizer? Whichever it is*, check out this video of Floyd Steinberg showing how he set up his Raspberry Pi as one of them.

“In this video,” Floyd explains on YouTube, “I show how to set up a Raspberry Pi 3 as a virtual analogue synthesiser with keyboard and knobs for real-time sound tweaking, using standard MIDI controllers and some very minor shell script editing. The result is a battery-powered mini synth creating quite impressive sounds!”

The components of a virtual analogue Raspberry Pu synthesiser

We know a fair few of you (Raspberry Pi staff included) love dabbling in the world of Raspberry Pi synth sound, so be sure to watch the video to see what Floyd gets up to while turning a Raspberry Pi 3 into a virtual analogue synthesiser.

Be sure to check out Floyd’s other videos for more synthy goodness, and comment on his video if you’d like him to experiment further with Raspberry Pi. (The answer is yes, yes we would ??)


*[Editor’s note: it’s spelled with a z in US English, and with an s in UK English. You’re welcome, Alex.]


Oliver Quinlan avatar

Brilliant, sounds lovely, I’ve been looking to do something like this for ages. It would be interesting to see how the Raspberry Pi could be used to interface this synth in creative ways with other electronics or real world objects…

Arthur Fieldstone avatar

You mean something like this?
That’s something I’m trying to do (on a smaller scale) with a Pi and a MIDI keyboard.

Oliver Quinlan avatar

I did, what a wonderful example, and very seasonal! Thanks for sharing.

Martin Bonner avatar

The editor is wrong. At least according to the Oxford English Dictionary (which lists words with the suffix -ize, and then notes where they can be spelt -ise). This has been made much worse by Microsoft (et al) which has no dictionary which will accept “colourize” and similar words.

There’s even a language code: en-GB-oxendict

Liz Upton avatar

I hate to “well, actually” you: but this is kind of my pet subject! (I was an editor for many years before getting involved in the founding of Raspberry Pi, where I’ve been working as Director of Communications since before we even had Alpha hardware; I still do some editorial work in that capacity at Raspberry Pi, although I wasn’t the editor on this post.)

What you’re referring to is not standard British English at all. It’s referred to as Oxford Spelling, and it’s distinct from more common British usage, where the -ise spelling is much, much more usual and is regarded as the standard; it’s taught in schools, used in our newspaper of record, and is what you’ll find in the vast majority of publications in this country. There’s a Wikipedia article about Oxford Spelling if you’re interested in the subtle differences.

In this country Oxford Spelling is predominantly used by scientific journals and in UN publications: i.e. in publications which are intended for an international audience. Oxford make a good historical case for the use of -ize, but if you’re going down that route you could just as easily assert that we should be using “thou” for the second person singular, which…wouldn’t be appropriate.

Here at Raspberry Pi we use a large and venerable – I’ve been working on it with colleagues since 2011 – house style guide which uses many elements of Hart’s Rules (which is itself derived from the Oxford rules); and we specifically exclude their rule on -ise/-ize. We’re not by any means unique as an organisation in doing so.

The style guide is written to ensure that we communicate in a way which is easily understood, which is appropriate for our audience, and which is consistent. Readers on both sides of the Atlantic are bright enough not to be too discombobulated by -ize/-ise: I can’t imagine there’s a single person reading this who doesn’t understand what a “synthesizer” or “synthesiser” are. We’ve come to the decision that as an English company, we should apply British English usage. Of course, when writing specifically for a US audience we have other rules (another section in the style guide), and would use -ize in that material. Language is constantly evolving, and I don’t like the prescriptivism that says there’s a right or wrong way of doing things. But (the style guide is not, unlike Fowler, unhappy for me to open a sentence with a preposition) Raspberry Pi prefers one spelling for the sake of consistency; and the consensus among linguists and, I’m afraid, professional editors, is that there is indeed a “correct” usage in British English.

Andy avatar

Interesting what one learns, here.
Why do we need the whole word – isn’t Synth good enough?
Or will that start an argument with Cynthia – otherwise known as Artemis?

Richard Nevill avatar

What a wonderfully exposited ripozte.

Al Dante avatar



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