Letters to Symbolic Sound

I am still as happy as a clam with my Kyma....it's the big, huge , GIGANTIC piece of pie that I will be digging into for YEARS to come...I will never hunger for tools...only knowledge of how to use them...my mind spins when I begin to try to conceive of how vast this thing is...it really, really is an environment...truly a place to work, a way to work and a way to conceive of working....I could start getting metaphysical here...but I want you to get back to work on the next version!

BTW, I was playing prepared guitar through the Kyma in front of some folks about a week and a half ago and someone came up to me afterwords and said "DUUUUUDE" (this is a greeting used by many here in California) "That shit is the BOMB, it blew my mind to Kingdom Come, that is ex-sploooo-sive. Dude, you RIP". I had no idea my playing was so violent!?



Today I finished my Kyma Beginner's Diary at my website, because I am no longer a beginner; I am now a user! And I want to be a power user of Kyma!

Yoichi Nagashima

Hope you are enjoying all the snow. We've been to the Santa Barbara Zoo, and guess what we saw!

And it had its feet firmly planted on the ground. Do you get pictures of rodents from every Kyma user?

Nik & Penny

I`m freaking out right now because of the stuff I`m doing with Kyma...I need more DSP...and I can`t wait to get it...I`m selling some stuff I really don`t need anymore because Kyma can do it much better!

Oliver Lieb

Thanks...I still have to pinch myself to make sure your outstanding service is part of this world, and not some Utopian society where everyone's throwing flowers at each other and even Stockhausen is dancing to the tribal beat of a bongo drum. :-)

Anyways, take care.

best regards,


...to me all creative efforts such as writing code, composing music, creating new sounds, sculpting, writing stories, gardening, painting... even tech writing, are equal. The main problem is that working on Kyma is addictive. I have been trying to finish up a book and get it off to the publisher. It has been very difficult to sit down and and work on it with the Capybara sitting there calling to me with its siren song...

Robert DeFord

My current sense of the system is - flexibility SOLUTION is just GR(ACE & EAT)! (it's not compliment... though... why NOT?!). By the way my son (he's 13) was at first disappointed to see Capybara having no knobs, sliders or LCD screens. 'Is this thing really cool?' he doubted. Some later - when we went through several tutorials - he began to discover the taste of one of my favorite mottos - "less knobs = more power".

Yuri Spitsin

I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate all the work that you've done on the 4.5 release.. The documentation is wonderful, and I find most of the new features extremely useful. Kyma continues to function as the primary tool for increasing my understanding of psychoacoustics, DSP, and sound in general (and it costed less than my formal education!). Thanks again for producing a superlative product.


John Mantegna

Ya know how I was mentioning my friend (Erica) who likes my Kyma sounds? Well, last night, my producer (Moe) was over, and I showed him all my granular synthesis sounds, waveshaping sounds, etc. We started processing the vocals of our latest song with granular synthesis.When I let him drive the controls of my "samplemangler" Sound, he started making the most wild sounds I ever heard. Anyways, we worked for about 6 hours straight. It blew his mind. No one is making our kind of music, and no one is making music with these kinds of sounds.


I tried out the Shepard tone example. And I have to say that it is the [a local idiom referring to the canine anatomy has been deleted at the author's request]. In other words they are quite simply the best examples of this phenomena I have ever heard. I try very hard and can only think there is a jump if I tell myself very hard that I know there is one.

For ages I have wanted a decent high fidelity version of this to play to students in my "life ain't all you hear" lecture. I've been relying on the runout groove of an ancient Buzzcocks LP (God knows where they nicked it from...Risset?), but being able to demonstrate the tritone paradox too:-)))

Be peaceful,


Initial impressions: Installation is very straightforward -- I was able to get up and running with minimal effort. The hardware feels really solid and assembles together well. All of the warning stickers made me laugh -- it was like having someone looking over my shoulder while putting the boards in: "Don't touch this chip!" and "Board #1 goes in slot #1!" etc. After the software install was finished I was immediately able to play the prototype sounds without having to configure a bunch of nonsense, and that rules!


The workshop was far more than I hoped for! I feel like you earned the fee by lunch on the first day...really, I am still reeling from the new knowledge and understanding of Kyma. I've been struggling to find a way to make Kyma more central in my work, and I think the workshop has shown me how to do that. So far, I've severely under-utilized Kyma more as a fancy effects box than anything else, even though from the beginning I knew it could and should be much more.

It was great to meet you all. (Antonio is worth his weight in entertainment value alone!)


David Mooney

The enclosed is an interesting yet sad sighting of our favorite animal.


Reprinted from The Orlando Sentinel Friday 15 December 1995 (via Scott Mousseau) :

Exotic Rodents on Wanted List

(AP) Bell (FL) -- Donald Ray Spears thought he had spotted a mutant creature on the wild banks of the Suwannee River. The animal had a head like a beaver and the body of a wild hog. It turned out to be a South American capybara, the largest member of the rodent family. Spears and his buddy, Festus Roberts, spotted the capybara Tuesday while fishing in a boat. Spears said he thought it would dive into the river and come after them, so he shot it. The 175-pound creature had three hooflike toes on each foot. Its hide is covered in coarse, sparse hair. There is no visible tail. Terry Doonan, a biologist for the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission, said anyone who sees a capybara should call the commission.

Thank you once again for the timely and effective help. The more I work with Kyma, the more impressed I become and the more future possibilities I see. I now find my head occupied with thinking in Kyma and Smalltalk whenever it is not filled with something else. We now have programmed two psychoacoustics experiments and one music perception experiment to be run this term completely within Kyma and with a level of elegance, automation, and idiot-proofing that we have never been able to achieve before. It was a lot of work to begin with, but is getting faster and faster as I become more Kyma and Smalltalk literate. Kyma also continues to prove invaluable for our phenomenological exploration of sound, as well as for instructional use and demonstrations. This past summer we discovered two potentially very interesting auditory phenomena that I do not think we would have ever stumbled across without the ability Kyma has given us to manipulate sound quickly and easily in real time.

Keep up the good work,


To: Symbolic Sound

"User friendly" doesn't do justice to your rare combination of industry, invention, and accessibility!


Dear Carla!

Enclosed you'll find two snapshots I took during my holiday on Crete. You can clearly see:

Kyma is everywhere!




Everything's GREAT with Kyma!

Lately, I've been experimenting quite a bit with processing external signals in order to derive control information from them with which to drive my Sounds. My favorite real-time source material is my African Grey Parrot, Tacuma. In addition to her talking and imitative sound effects, she is prone to whistle random melodies. I set up a mic (just out of pecking distance) and now have a splendid (not to mention entertaining) source of raw material.

Once Tacuma becomes comfortable with a new algorithm, she begins to "play" with it. The first one I set up was a spectral inverter that multiplied her signal by a 2 kHz sine, routed it through a low-pass filter with a cutoff of 1 kHz, and delayed the result by one second. If she whistled an ascending scale, she got a descending scale in reply. A gliss up gave her a gliss down. She got to the point where she would whistle a quick sequence of notes, wait for the inversion, then whistle the inverse sequence in order to get her original back! She's just started whistling much longer sequences, which comes out like a duet for Kyma and African Grey Parrot!

All for now!