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A Sound Synthesis and Composition Language

Nyquist is a sound synthesis and composition language offering a Lisp syntax as well as an imperative language syntax and a powerful integrated development environment.. Nyquist is an elegant and powerful system based on functional programming.

Source code hosted by: SourceForge.net Logo

How to get Nyquist


Nyquist is now released through Sourceforge. The lastest release can be found here. At the top level of the files, you will probably find two options: Nyquist and pl-drums. Open Nyquist. Under Nyquist, there are different versions, so pick the most recent. You will probably find 4 interesting files. Here's a key:
This is an installer for XP, Vista, and Windows 7. This release is missing drum samples that you can download separately from the pl-drums release (also on SourceForge).
This is the source code. If you are running Linux or any Unix that's not OS X, you should get this and see the Readme.txt file about installation. This source release is missing drum samples that you can download separately from the pl-drums release (also on SourceForge).
This is a complete compiled universal binary application for Mac OS X that includes drum samples.
Under the pl-drums directory at the top level of the same Sourceforge files download page, you should find drum samples:
These are the drum samples mentioned above. They are in the pl-drums package and are a supplement for non-Mac OS X systems. (They are included in the OS X release of Nyquist.) To install the samples into your Windows or Linux installation, uncompress the download, and move the entire plight folder into nyquist/demos, resulting in nyquist/demos/plight/.

Source Code

The nyqsrc3□□.zip file described under "Executables" above has source code for released versions on all platforms. You can get the latest source code using SVN. Instructions are here (look under the "code" tab), but this will create some extra levels of directories, so I recommend using the SVN checkout command in the next paragraph.

Developers: for read/write access, you need SVN write permissions for the Nyquist project at SourceForge to commit changes, but you can use the following with or without write permissions to initialize and maintain a working copy of the latest Nyquist sources:

svn co svn://svn.code.sf.net/p/nyquist/code/trunk/nyquist nyquist
After getting the sources with svn, you should be able to build Nyquist on a Linux machine starting with the Readme.txt file in the top-level nyquist directory. If you have problems getting Nyquist, please contact Roger Dannenberg (rbd at cs.cmu.edu).


There are a number of articles on Nyquist and a book (see below). The standard reference I use (in addition to the Reference Manual published online) is the journal article:

Roger B. Dannenberg, “Machine Tongues XIX: Nyquist, a Language for Composition and Sound Synthesis,” Computer Music Journal, 21(3) (Fall 1997), pp. 50-60.


The NyquistIDE comes with many examples. You can also find examples in the book Algorithmic Composition by Mary Simoni and Roger B. Dannenberg. Many examples from the book including some examples of sonification of scientific data can be found here.
roger.dannenberg at cs.cmu.edu