PM Squared: Physical Modeling in the Package Manager

    Even if school might be back in session for most students, we haven’t hit fall officially yet, so don’t pack up your Max beach towel just yet! In this article I’m going to continue my summer dive into the Package Manager and take you on a tour of available physical modeling tools.


    Besides containing the ever-enjoyable munger~ object (mentioned in an earlier article on granular synthesis tools), the PeRColate package by Dan Trueman and Luke DuBois is a gold mine of physical modeling objects.
    The objects utilize the open-source Synthesis ToolKit (STK) by Perry Cook and Gary P. Scavone, and they span everything from shakers and maracas to clarinets and an “evil mutant flute-guitar.”

    CNMAT Externals - waveguide~

    One building block of many physical modeling implementations is the digital waveguide.
    The basic components of a digital waveguide are delay lines, digital filters, and nonlinearities. These components, with the right parameters and configuration, are an extremely efficient way to get realistic models of physical instruments. (If you’re curious about learning the details of digital waveguide synthesis, I highly recommend checking out this set of interactive notes by Pierre Cusa as well as Julius O. Smith III’s materials on the subject.)
    One fun object hiding out in the CNMAT Externals package is a waveguide mesh physical model, aptly named waveguide~. It allows you to build up a mesh structure, manipulate delay times, and more. While it’s not a one-to-one physical model of a specific instrument, waveguide~ is definitely another way to dip your toes into the DSP behind physical modeling.

    Sound Design Toolkit

    The Sound Design Toolkit authored by Stefano Delle Monache, Stefano Baldan, Stefano Papetti, and Marco Tiraboschi is a package containing “physically informed sound synthesis models, audio processing algorithms and analysis routines.” Put another way, it’s a package full of objects to help you synthesize your own foley samples!
    The objects are organized in the overview patch according to their categories: synthesis, analysis, and processing. Within the synthesis category, there are objects for solids, liquids, gases, and machines, each with a huge array of parameters to tweak to your liking.
    While the array of options available might be intimidating at first, the SDT is full of clear example patches, tutorials, and even a set of video lessons to help guide you through the package.
    With so many physical modeling goodies stuffed in the Package Manager, I hope you'll find something new to explore (or rediscover) as summer begins winding down. Happy patching!