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Sketchpad for Sound Designers

New X.1 Kyma Software Transforms a Wacom Tablet into 3-D Controller and Continuous Keyboard

CHAMPAIGN, IL—December 31, 2004—Symbolic Sound today announced that Kyma X.1™, the next major update to the world’s most advanced sound design environment, is now shipping. Kyma X.1 delivers its enhancements in threes: support for using a Wacom pen and tablet as a 3 dimensional control surface, 3 new kinds of oscillators, modules for turning presets into a 3 dimensional parameter subspace, plus other enhancements and improvements to the Kyma X sound design software.

Using a Wacom Tablet as a 3-D Sound Control Surface

Sound designers can use a Wacom pen and tablet to perform creature voices or match SFX to picture. Musicians can quickly and intuitively explore the parameter space of a patch or even perform the tablet as a new musical instrument.

“Our goal is for sound designers and musicians to be able to shape sounds with their own hands. The human hand is virtually a direct connection to the human brain,” said Symbolic Sound president Carla Scaletti. "Using your ear and your hand, you can explore and refine sound design patches with incredible speed."

With the Wacom Intuos3 or Graphire3 pen tablets, sound designers and musicians can use the eraser-end of the pen to simultaneously control up to 8 sound parameters using pen position plus (on the Intuos) pen tilt. You can map any sound parameter to pen orientation by using the Pen Status window.

By flipping the pen over, musicians can use the tablet as a continuous microtonal musical keyboard, sending KeyDown, KeyPitch (left/right), KeyVelocity (up/down), plus an additional key event called KeyTimbre (front/back). Sounds designed for the Continuum Fingerboard ( are fully compatible with Sounds designed for the Wacom tablet in keyboard mode (and vice versa).

Here is a video demonstration of the pen tablet in use with Kyma (requires Quicktime 6):

And here are excerpts from a musical performance by Edmund Eagan using Kyma, the Wacom tablet, the Continuum and the MotorMix:

New Oscillator Flavors

The new Kyma Oscillator generates the full range of sound, from a single impulse, to a formant-shifted tone, to the classic continuous waveform oscillator. By giving you control over the duty-cycle of any waveform (independently of the fundamental frequency), this new oscillator can be used to synthesize anything from granular pops and pulses to the familiar continuous analog waveforms.

A new CrossFadingMulticycleOscillator allows you to smoothly interpolate between any two waveforms over the course of a single cycle.

Inspired by revolutionary composer/architect Iannis Xenakis, the XenOscillator lets you define a waveform by adjusting any number of "breakpoints" and interpolating between them with straight lines, curves, or if you prefer, "raw" with no interpolation at all. You can even use the Wacom pen to redraw the waveform of the oscillator while it is playing.

Sound Parameter Vector Spaces

Using the new PresetSpace module, you can define a 1, 2 or 3 dimensional subspace by placing the presets of a Sound on the vertices of a line, a square, or a cube. You can then move through that space by interpolating between those endpoints.

A related module, InterpolatePresets, treats any number of presets as points in an n-dimensional space and then allows you to travel along a line connecting those points. In effect, you are controlling any number of faders with a single master fader that interpolates between presets. Use this module to perform your patches live on stage, sequencing through them in order or jumping from one patch to another as you improvise with other performers.

Combining these spatial modules with the Wacom tablet control opens up a whole new way of performing, composing, and improvising with sound. The tablet can detect the pen through a sheet of paper, so you can even create your own 2-dimensional scores or maps for improvisation, lay them on the tablet, and perform them live!

Timeline Controller Overlays and other additions

In the Timeline you can now view multiple automated controllers from multiple Sounds, allowing you to more easily coordinate controllers with each other.

First Impressions

What do Kyma users think of the new features? Here are some quotes from the beta testers:

The Wacom is such an amazing, responsive, controller. I must say that your implementation of the Wacom in Kyma is absolutely brilliant! Thanks so much for giving me this amazing tool!

I'm just trying it now, borrowed a Wacom Graphire 6x8 from down the hall...I must say I am BLOWN AWAY!! Yikes that tablet is sweet...

I have to tell you this: IT IS MARVELOUS, I think I never did so much sound "bending" before!!!

The new Sounds are great. They are a fantastic and exciting addition to what is already available in the earlier version.

Hey this release is cool! I tried the new oscillator and the ctrl-click function and they are Grrrreat.

...a real wavetable oscillator!!! ...and the graphic tablets!!!!!!! ...what fantastic surprises!

...a dream come true: more controllers at once in the timeline!!! Cannot praise you enough for that "little" timeline thing. It's just fantastic! far the most important seems to me the use of the three-dimensional graphic tablet and that one can use several of them! ... I just played my first waco(m) sounds! Hey guys, this is terrific!! I am really eager to go deeper into it! Congratulations.

I am so impressed with the musical performances I can get out of the tablet that I ordered an Intuous3 6x8 today, because I like the idea of the tilt control.

I've just spent some time exploring those interpolating presets and preset space [Sounds]. It's incredible. When you imagine that 8 part cube under your pen... I need to spend more time with this. It's such an amazing complement to the tablet.

It's my birthday today, and I couldn't have wished for a better present! Thank you for your continual innovative Kyma updates.

I was thinking about the old days, when I used to read the Sound on Sound magazine every month and see stuff that I wanted but could never afford or allow myself to buy. What struck me when this new version of Kyma came was that how amazing it was that [you] worked on sound developments and then simply sent them to Kyma users. This makes Kyma such [an] amazing value as one is not simply buying a black box but also a number of years of cutting edge Sound research...

Pricing & Availability

Kyma X.1 is now available as a free New Year's present to registered Kyma X owners.

Wacom Graphire3 and Intuos3 tablets are available direct from Wacom and can also be found in most computer and electronics stores (both physical and on line). Registered Kyma X owners can purchase an Intuos3 4X5 pen tablet and wireless mouse directly from Symbolic Sound.

Tablets ordered from Symbolic Sound include a special plastic overlay providing an XYZ grid, polar coordinates, and the halfstep markers for a two octave continuous pitch keyboard.

If you already own a Graphire3 or Intuos3, you can print and laminate a copy of this template from PDF files supplied by Symbolic Sound (or use these templates as a starting point for designing your own personalized overlays and grids).

Kyma X.1 runs under Macintosh OS X, Windows XP, and Windows 98/ME/2000 and Macintosh OS 9.2. Wacom Graphire3 and Intuos3 USB versions are supported under OS X and Windows XP operating systems only (no support for OS 9 or Windows 98/ME/2000).


In 1990, Symbolic Sound revolutionized the sound design and music software industry with the introduction of Kyma™, a graphical modular software sound design environment accelerated by the software-reconfigurable Capybara™ multi-processor sound computation engine. Symbolic Sound is committed to bringing the most advanced and flexible sound design technology to sound designers, musicians, educators, researchers, and creative professionals through its innovative hardware and software offerings.

Press Contact

Carla Scaletti
Symbolic Sound Corporation

Symbolic Sound, the Symbolic Sound logo, Kyma, and Capybara are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Symbolic Sound Corporation. Other company and product names may be trademarks of their respective owners.