Phonogene 1.2

Phonogene is a digital model of three of the earliest tools of musique concrète, devloped by Pierre Schaeffer and Jacques Poullin while heading the GRMC {Groupe de Recherche de Musique Concrète}. The original phonogenes were magnetic tape recorders modified for varispeed playback. The chromatic phonogene used an array of 12 capstans to pull the tape across the read head to produce the 12 pitches of the chromatic scale. A second version, called sliding phonogene, allowed for continuous modification of speed all the way to a stopped position. The continuous variation of speed creates a proportional adjustment of duration and pitch, as well as modification of the spectral distribution of the sound.

Almost a decade later a more complicated version, the universal phonogene, was able to dissociate playback speed and pitch via a rotating drum fitted with multiple read heads that could scan the tape even when stationary, creating an model for later developments in harmonizing, pitch shifting and time stretching.

This software models a 3 head tape recorder with a positionable read head and continuously variable motor speed. A max external coded in C allows for varispeed recording and playback, meaning that adjustments made while recording input are captured to the “tape” allowing for interesting effects, such as starting the tape :”motor” after the program is record enabled. Phonogene can function as a traditional delay, a sound on sound varispeed looper, a time-stretcher, a pitch shifter or a more unorthodox combination of the above.

How did this project use Max?

Max is used as a graphic interface for a custom C external.

February 20, 2012 | 11:07 am

Thank you, very interesting ! I did not know about the Phonogene. Groundbreaking machine for its time.

February 23, 2012 | 10:19 pm

I must mention that this can alias pretty hard if you try to do anything radical.

I’m just resampling the input (using cubic interpolation) to oversample it into a buffer, to get some wiggle room for changing the "speed" of the tape.

Sometime soon a manual.

Also, I have a prototype that uses sinc interpolation that I could never quite get to work – open to collaboration if anyone wants to help with some coding.

The keyboard shortcuts combined w/ mouse movement really help this become a playable piece of software.


Shawn Edward Hansen
July 8, 2012 | 2:50 pm

I would love to see a manual. I am swimming in the program from time to time, which is a blast, but maybe even some simple video tutorials would give me the tools to take it further. I appreciate the nod to early electronic music. That’s where most of my interest lies and so my digital prowess is pretty lacking.


February 18, 2013 | 2:53 pm

I’d like to check this out but the link doesn’t work :( "This domain name expired on 02/12/2013 and is pending renewal or deletion."

February 18, 2013 | 3:19 pm

sorry! – website is down for redesign

if you send me an e-mail, I can send you a .rar or .zip of the program, source code if you want that sort of thing.


April 11, 2013 | 7:44 am

Would love to get this, too. info (at) if you can send it.

October 7, 2013 | 9:16 pm

I would love this as well. If you could send it along, I would greatly appreciate it: jpratcliffe (at) gmail [dot] com. Thanks!

October 8, 2013 | 4:40 am

Please send here too: tonn333 ,-(at)-, gmail -(dot)- com

October 21, 2013 | 5:19 am

hi tristan, im really interest at trying, looking at your software. i have a makenoise phonogene, but i can see that a piece of code would be much flexibler to experiment. im interest in playing it with sensors for human interaction. is it possible you send it to me at: zaburius (at) gmail [dot] com. thank u much for the inspiration :)

November 24, 2013 | 10:58 am

Hi, would it be possible to get a copy of your Phonogene recreation. Looks amazing. Ive always been a big fan of Schaffer’s research :) samconran[at] Thanks.. Keep up the good work

December 4, 2013 | 9:52 pm

Hi Tristan, I’m interest at your software. Is it possible you send it to me at: Thank you
(I’am a professor in electronic music, and now my course is dedicated to concret music).

January 15, 2014 | 8:33 pm

Hi Tristan, I would be very interested in trying out your software (Phonogene). Would it be possible to send a copy to me at ctrimmer6 [at] gmail [dot] com? Much appreciated!

January 16, 2014 | 10:32 am

Hi Tristan, I’m also interested in your software. Would be great if you could send it. john.baq[at]Gmail[dot]com. Thanks!

January 17, 2014 | 11:58 am

T-Man can u send a copy also to me when u get the chance?

January 22, 2014 | 1:15 pm

Hi Tristan, I’m also interested in phonogene. I appreciate if you could send me it, thanks. alea.fab(at) gmail [dot] com.

April 9, 2014 | 1:46 am

Wow.. cool.
I am actually doing a project featuring Musique Concréte and I’d be very greatful if you could explain how I could go about getting this patch also. martydoherty80 [at] gmail [dot]com

April 10, 2014 | 6:40 am

would love to check under the hood…hook me up please chubbfire2002[at]yahoo[dot]com

May 9, 2014 | 8:16 pm

Hi Tristan,
this is a very cool patch. I’m very interested in the tools of musique concrète. Would you please be able to send me the patch? My address is christopherdegroot[at]hotmail[dot]com Thanks!

May 11, 2014 | 2:09 pm

so interested to give it a try!
all the best, thx

May 12, 2014 | 7:22 am

Me too pretty please!

May 12, 2014 | 1:24 pm



August 12, 2014 | 8:08 am

Hi Tristan, i’m really interested in your patch too!
Here’s my email: contact[at]
Thank you for your work

October 31, 2014 | 7:36 am

Me too, would be great to check it out! Thank you


November 16, 2014 | 2:05 am

we are need the latest vers. of phonogene, source_code or the ported externals to xp, win (we don’t use osx), we are also in interest for other modules which are simulations like a kind of "musique concrete" our emailadr:
thank you and
happy maxing

January 2, 2015 | 12:36 pm

Looks really interesting! I would love to check it out. Could you send a copy of your patch to me? Thanks!


January 4, 2015 | 8:12 am

I’m also very interested. Just in case:[at]gmail[dot]com Thank you.

March 8, 2015 | 8:57 am

hey this looks great!! Could you send a copy of your patch to me? Thanks so much![at]

March 18, 2015 | 7:40 am

Could you send a copy of your patch to me? Thanks so much!

March 18, 2015 | 8:22 pm

Please send me "Phonogene 1.2"patch.
send to "ep19732006 at gmail dot com"

March 22, 2015 | 12:55 pm

Hi congratulation on the porject.
If you can you can send me the patch to

March 27, 2015 | 7:33 am

Hi Tristan, Would it be possible to send me the Phonogene patch?

1keithlindsay at gmail dot com

March 27, 2015 | 7:43 pm

Hi Tristant,

I’m a student in EA from Montreal and one of my collegue, told me about your patch. After listening to its incredible capabilities I would very much like to be able to have an hand on it.
Do you think you could send it to me?
Thank you very much

April 6, 2015 | 9:49 am

Hello Tristan,

Your patch looks great. Would love to check it out, explore the possibilities. Would it be possible to send a copy to me at gardner.evan (at)


April 18, 2015 | 8:23 am

Hi Tristan, I want to use your software in my music, please send it to chbarragan @
Muchas gracias!

May 24, 2015 | 8:56 am

A copy of this would be great! Zactraeger at gmail dot com

May 26, 2015 | 9:05 am

hi tristan

is the patch still available?, if so please email

many thanks!

June 7, 2015 | 11:40 am

Hi Tristan,
Great idea to adopt the Concept to Max! I’d really like to give the patch a try and compare it with my makenoise… Would be great if you could share the patch via
Thank you,

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