Sep 102010

BEAST/BSE and BSE-ALSA version 0.7.2 are available for download:

BEAST is a music composition and modular synthesis application. The “Bedevilled” portion of the names has no religious background, please refer to the About page for more details.


The 0.7.2 release provides new plugins and instruments, and a long list of bug fixes, improvements and translation updates.

TRANSLATORS: Please help us to improve the BEAST translations at Transifex.

Overview of Changes in BEAST/BSE 0.7.2:

  • Moved Beast/BSE to GNU LGPL, use AS-IS license for examples
  • Module changes and additions: ArtsCompressor – Relicensed to LGPL with permission from Matthias Kretz BseContribSampleAndHold – Relicensed to LGPL with permission from Artem Popov DavXTalStrings – Use deterministic random numbers for unit tests BseNoise – Improved random number generator
  • Switched to autogenerated ChangeLogs
  • Error bell can be muted in beast preferences dialog
  • Added multisample creation/editing command line tool: bsewavetool
  • Support adjustable volume, pitching and drum envelopes in .bsewave files
  • Added Retro Acoustic drum kit [Tim, Stefan]
  • New loadable Instruments/Effects:
    - BQS Bass Drum E8012 [Tim, Stefan]
    - BQS Slow Hum [Stefan, William DeVore]
    - FSM Fresh Water Bass instrument [Krzysztof Foltman]
    - FSM Growl Bass instrument [Krzysztof Foltman]
    - FSM Synth String Sweep [Krzysztof Foltman]
  • Added support for loading 32bit and 24bit PCM-format WAV files
  • Added support for gcc-4.4 and automake-1.10
  • Added support for guile-1.8, guile-1.6 remains as minimum requirement
  • Various fixes, improvements and much improved test coverage.
  • Bug fixes: #452604, #468229, #344388, #451086, #450724, #454121, #491552, #450490, #441936, #336766, #433431, #474332, #474244, #456879, #456408, #424897 [Tim Janik, Stefan Westerfeld]
  • Migrated translation support to use awk, sed and po/
  • Updated German translation [Mario Blättermann]
  • Updated Italien translation [Michele Petrecca]
  • Updated Occitan translation [Yannig Marchegay]
  • Updated Brazilian Portugues translation [Leonardo Ferreira Fontenelle]
  • Updated British English translation [David Lodge]
  • Updated Spanish translation [Jorge Gonzalez]
  • Updated Slovenian translation [Andrej Znidarsic]
  • Updated Danish translation [Joe Hansen]
  • Updated French translation [Bruno Brouard]
  • Added Norwegian bokmal translation [Kjartan Maraas]
  • Added Ukrainian translation [Maxim V. Dziumanenko]

Overview of Changes in BSE-ALSA 0.7.2:

  • Fixes for automake-1.10 builds
  • Moved Beast/BSE to GNU LGPL

UPDATES: Updated translator instructions and uploaded a new release tarball with build fixes.

Sep 212007

We’ve been fairly busy recently with resolving the milestone bugs of the next Beast release. The good news is that pretty much all of the hard issues are sorted out by now, the bad news is that according to the release plan some essential release features are still missing 😉

It’s the large recent work that Stefan Westerfeld (who btw finally decided to start his own blog) has put into shaping up the remaining bits of bsewavetool (man page draft).
This is a very handy tool, that’ll finally be installed for public consumption in the upcoming release (it has been developed in SVN since 2004!). It can clip/normalize/ogg-encode/highpass/lowpass/upsample/downsample/etc chunks from the BSE multi sample files, and is normally used for shell-scripting the construction of sample kits from an unsorted pile of raw unprocessed sample data (note to self: blog some example use cases after the release).

Another addition are interesting new instruments by Krzysztof Foltman.

Oh – and before i forget, the synthesis link section on the website got some new updates as well: Beast Synthesis Links,

Also, Stefan pointed me at a YouTube video of Beast the other day:

The video is very nicely done, but it has the usual YouTubeish low quality artefacts.

Mar 252007

I will quickly roll up some of the interesting bits that happened around Beast in the last couple of weeks.
Stefan Westerfeld sat down and put up a collection of the various instruments and loops he is producing with Beast. Nicely described BSE files along with Ogg previews are available in his music collection: STW Music Archive.

Hanno Behrens had been fairly active in pushing the Beast project before the last release. In particular he has been stirring up the mailing list with feature requests. One of the things we managed to get in in response to these efforts is a list of commonly used musical tuning systems. Besides the already supported 12-TET which is the 12 note per octave equal temperament used in all western contemporary music, this includes further TET variants, Indian tuning, pentatonic tunings, meantone tunings and various well tempered tunings mostly intended for organs.

Hanno also published a very well written C64-retrospective article about Beast synthesis in the 20th Issue (german) of the Lotek64 Magazine. And additionally, the technical backgrounds for this article are described in the Beast wiki: SID Vicious (english).

Dec 272006

It really has been a long way to get this release out of the door. It fixes some serious crashers that i intend to blog about later, but more importantly it fixes a security vulnerability issue, here’s the related advisory: artswrapper vulnerability 2006-2916
Upgrading from any older Beast version is thusly strongly recommended. I’ll not get into too many boring details here, so let me just say that Beast now supports different musical tuning systems and also ships with new and extended modules (BseQuantizer). All the g(l)ory details can be found in the original announcement:

Oct 232006

There’s been quite some hacking going on in the Beast tree recently. Stefan Westerfeld kindly wrote up a new development summary which is published on the Beast front page.

In particular, we’ve been hacking on the unit tests and tried to get make check invocations run much faster. To paraphrase Michael C. Feathers from his very interesting book Working Effectively with Legacy Code on unit tests:

Unit tests should run fast – a test taking 1/10th of a second is a slow unit test.

Most tests we had executed during make check took much longer. Beast has some pretty sophisticated test features nowadays, i.e. it can render BSE files to WAV files offline (in a test harness), extract certain audio features from the WAV files and compare those against saved feature sets. In other places, we’re using tests that loop through all possible input/output values of a function in brute force manner and assert correctness over the full value range. Adding up to that, we have performance tests that may repeatedly call the same functions (often thousands or millions of times) in order to measure their performance and print out measurements.

These kind of tests are nice to have for broad correctness testing, especially around release time. However we did run into the problem of make check being less likely executed before commits, because running the tests would be too slow to bother with. That of course somewhat defeats the purpose of having a test harness. Another problem that we ran into were the intermixing of correctness/accuracy tests with performance benchmarks. These often sit in the same test program or even the same function and are hard to spot that way in the full output of a check run.

To solve the outlined problems, we changed the Beast tests as follows:

* All makefiles support the (recursive) rules: check, slowcheck, perf, report (this is easily implemented by including a common makefile).

* Tests added to TESTS are run as part of check (automake standard).

* Tests added to SLOWTESTS are run as part of slowcheck with --test-slow.

* Tests added to PERFTESTS are run as part of perf with --test-perf.

* make report runs all of check, slowcheck and perf and captures the output into a file report.out.

* We use special test initialization functions (e.g. sfi_init_test(argc,argv)) which do argument parsing to handle --test-slow and --test-perf.

* Performance measurements are always reported by the treport_maximized(perf_testname,amount,unit) function or the treport_minimized() variant thereof, depending on whether the measured quantity is desired to be maximized or minimized. These functions are defined in birnettests.h and print out quantities with a magic prefix that allows grepping for performance results.

* make distcheck enforces a successful run of make report.

Together, these changes have allowed us to easily tweak our tests to have faster test loops (if !test_slow) and to conditionalize lengthy performance loops (if test_perf). So make check is pleasingly fast now, while make slowcheck still runs all the brute force and lengthy tests we’ve come up with. Performance results are now available at the tip of:

	$ make report
	$ grep '^#TBENCH=' report.out
	#TBENCH=mini:         Direct-AutoLocker:      +83.57            nSeconds
	#TBENCH=mini:         Birnet-AutoLocker:     +104.574           nSeconds
	#TBENCH=maxi:  CPU Resampling FPU-Up08M:     +260.4562325006    Streams
	#TBENCH=maxi:  CPU Resampling FPU-Up16M:     +184.19598452754   Streams
	#TBENCH=maxi:  CPU Resampling SSE-Up08M:     +399.04229848364   Streams
	#TBENCH=maxi:  CPU Resampling SSE-Up16M:     +338.5240352065    Streams 

The results are tailored to be parsable by performance statistics scripts. So writing scripts to present performance report differences and to compare performance reports between releases is now on the TODO list. 😉

Jul 162006

After next Friday, Stefan Westerfeld and me are leaving for a 3 week vacation. So in order to not let the Beast release slip even more, we’ve been working hard over the last couple weeks to get a new tarball out of the door. After much fiddling and an SVN-migration hick up in the last minute (Beast is in SVN now and will stay there), it’s finally accomplished:

Beast-0.7.0 NEWS

We really hope people are going to have fun with this release and report all bugs they encounter in Bugzilla.

May 162006

Faced with the documentation system requirements outlined in the last episode (The Beast Documentation Quest (2)) it took a while to figure that there really was no single documentation tool fulfilling all the needs outlined. So writing a new documentation tool for the Beast project looked like the only viable solution. I wasn’t ready to start out rolling a new full fledged C++ parser though…
Fortunately, Doxygen includes an XML generation back-end, that will dump all the C/C++ structure after the parsing stage, including comments, into a set of XML files. Unfortunately it unconditionally preprocesses the source code comments. So it required some trickery to circumvent complaints about unknown or invalidly used Doxygen macros when combined with a newly developed macro processor…
To get the macro processor going, i wrote a recursive descend parser for “@macro{arguments} more text\n“-style constructs in Python. Added up a syntax facility for new macro definitions, an algorithm to detect and generate sections plus a rudimentary HTML generation back-end, and voila – a new documentation generator was born: Doxer. That was around last summer.

In response to my last blog entry on this topic, one commenter wrote:

I think that starting another documentation project would be totally useless.

I don’t think i can agree here. For any software solvable problem you have, you can only write your own tool if you don’t find an existing one that covers your needs or could be extended to do so. Admittedly, i didn’t know about Synopsis back then, and i intend to investigate more of its innards at some point to figure whether it can be integrated with Doxer nicely. Until then, Beast does again have a working documentation tool, re-enabling us to keep documenting the source code and updating the website.
At this point, the CVS version of Beast has been fully migrated to generate and display HTML runtime documentation, using a browser according to the users preferences. Also all source code documentation was converted and the website is fully generated from Doxer. All of this is driven by circa 6k lines of code, made possible only by the expressiveness of Python and by using Doxygen as a source code parsing backend.