Designed byGe Wang
First appeared2003; 21 years ago (2003)[1]
Stable release / November 2023; 2 months ago (2023-11)[2]
Typing disciplineStrong
LicenseMac, Linux, Windows: GPL-2.0-or-later
iOS: Closed Source (Not Public)

ChucK is a concurrent, strongly timed audio programming language for real-time synthesis, composition, and performance,[3] which runs on Linux, Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, and iOS. It is designed to favor readability and flexibility for the programmer over other considerations such as raw performance. It natively supports deterministic concurrency and multiple, simultaneous, dynamic control rates. Another key feature is the ability to live code; adding, removing, and modifying code on the fly, while the program is running, without stopping or restarting. It has a highly precise timing/concurrency model, allowing for arbitrarily fine granularity. It offers composers and researchers a powerful and flexible programming tool for building and experimenting with complex audio synthesis programs, and real-time interactive control.[4]

ChucK was created and chiefly designed by Ge Wang as a graduate student working with Perry R. Cook.[1] ChucK is distributed freely under the terms of the GNU General Public License on Mac OS X, Linux and Microsoft Windows. On iPhone and iPad, ChiP (ChucK for iPhone) is distributed under a limited, closed source license, and is not currently licensed to the public. However, the core team has stated that it would like to explore "ways to open ChiP by creating a beneficial environment for everyone".[5]

Language features

The ChucK programming language is a loosely C-like object-oriented language, with strong static typing.

ChucK is distinguished by the following characteristics:[6]

ChucK standard libraries provide:

Code example

The following is a simple ChucK program that generates sound and music:

 // our signal graph (patch)
 SinOsc f => dac;
 // set gain
 .3 => f.gain;
 // an array of pitch classes (in half steps)
 [ 0, 2, 4, 6, 9, 10 ] @=> int hi[];
 // infinite loop
 while( true )
     // choose a note, shift registers, convert to frequency
     Std.mtof( 65 + Std.rand2(0,1) * 43 +
         hi[Std.rand2(0,hi.cap()-1)] ) => f.freq;
     // advance time by 120 ms
     120::ms => now;


ChucK has been used in performances by the Princeton Laptop Orchestra (PLOrk) and for developing Smule applications, including their ocarina emulator.[8] PLOrk organizers attribute some of the uniqueness of their performances to the live coding they can perform with ChucK.[9]

See also


  1. ^ a b Dean, R. T. (2009). The Oxford handbook of computer music. Oxford Handbooks in Music Series. Oxford University Press US. p. 57. ISBN 0-19-533161-3.
  2. ^ "". Retrieved 2021-01-18.
  3. ^ Wang, Ge (2008). The ChucK Audio Programming Language: A Strongly-timed and On-the-fly Environ/mentality (Ph.D.). Princeton University.
  4. ^ "ChucK : Strongly-timed, Concurrent, and On-the-fly Music Programming Language". Archived from the original on 2003-11-18. Retrieved 2013-09-06. ...offers composers, researchers, and performers a powerful programming tool for building and experimenting with complex audio synthesis/analysis programs, and real-time interactive music.
  5. ^ Wang, Ge. "ChucKian greetings and updates!". chuck-users mailing list. Princeton University. Retrieved 2011-05-24.
  6. ^ Wang, G. and P. Cook (2003). "ChucK: A concurrent, on-the-fly audio programming language" (PDF). Proceedings of the International Computer Music Conference.
  7. ^ "FLOSS manual". Flossmanuals. Retrieved 2021-01-18.
  8. ^ Kirn, Peter (July 22, 2009). "Interview: Smule's Ge Wang on iPhone Apps, Ocarinas, and Democratizing Music Tech". Create Digital Music. Retrieved 2011-05-24.
  9. ^ Petersen, Brittany (2008-06-11). "Laptop Orchestra Makes (Sound) Waves". PC Magazine. Archived from the original on 2017-07-11. Retrieved 2017-08-25. The other thing that set PLOrk apart from the beginning was its use of a text-based program called ChucK, developed by a Princeton graduate student. ChucK allows the user to code quickly—similar to live coding—and "on the fly" for a performance, allowing for the spontaneity and real-time interaction that is important in live music performance. "ChucK is the only language that I know of that was designed from the outset to facilitate that," Trueman says. The program is also "concurrent," meaning that it can handle many different processes going on at once. Its "innate sense of time" allows performers to communicate during live rehearsals and performances, he says, adding that many other laptop musicians probably use a program like Max/MSP (which PLOrk uses in addition to ChucK) or another widely available commercial program. Today some other laptop orchestras—including the Stanford Laptop Orchestra (SLOrk), which was directly inspired by PLOrk—also employ ChucK.

Further reading

Literature by its authors[edit]

Seemingly independent coverage[edit]