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Introduction

What's glicol.js?

Glicol.js is the audio engine of Glicol computer music language ported from Rust to JavaScript as an NPM package.

Advantages

  • A more light-weight package: Glicol.js is 2.2 MB and 1.4 MB in the next version whereas Tone.js is 5.4 MB (data from npmjs.com).

  • Ceiling-level audio performance in browsers: do any heavy stuff on main thread without influencing the audio; no garbage-collection in audio thread; no memory leaking.

  • Write much less code with the what-you-see-is-what-you-get (declarative) style. You will see more about this next.

  • Robust error-handling from Rust; no need to do try-catch.

Some requirement/limitation

  • The browsers need to relatively new (see https://caniuse.com/?search=audioworklet). So, if you want to support older version, this tool is not for you, at least for now.

  • It's recommended to use Vite for developing music apps with Glicol. You can use it to create vanilla JS, Vue, React, Svelte project, with either JS or TS. It's way more faster than other tools and most of Glicol tests and demos are built with Vite.

  • To get the best audio performance, you need to have cross-origin isolation enabled on the web server (both the dev server and the one you deploy your web app) to use this package. For Vite dev server, you can use my plugin here. For deployment on Netlify or Firebase, check their docs for editing the header files. If you use a customised server, you have to figure it out yourself.

In short, Glicol.js offers the ceiling-level audio performance in browsers, with robust memory-safety control and you will have a smooth coding experience. As trade-offs, it doesn't support old browsers for now and to get best of it, we recommand you use Vite and enable CORS for your dev and deployment server.

Glicol.js is a work in progress. There are more features, more examples, and more effects coming before the Web Audio Conference 2022.

Get started

After you npm i glicol, you can just write:

js
import Glicol from "glicol";
const glicol = new Glicol();

Then write the graph in a declarative style:

js
glicol.play({
  o: sin(440).mul("~am"),
  "~am": sin(0.2).mul(0.3).add(0.5),
});

Simple as that.

Note that there are two chains here, one is called o and the other is ~am. Only the chains without a ~ in their names will be sent to the output destination.

Wanna some change/update? Just call:

javascript
glicol.play({
  o: sin(110).mul("~am"),
  "~am": sin(0.2).mul(0.3).add(0.5),
});

The engine will analyse the difference and only update those nodes modified.

This is the key for the what-you-see-if-what-you-get style. We have done the hard work on the engine so you don't have to manually manage all the nodes and connect them everywhere.

A lighter way to do it is to write:

javascript
// chain "o", node_index 0, param 0, set to 110
glicol.sendMsg(`o, 0, 0, 110`);

You can find more examples in the following pages.