Web Audio supports live performance by LCO and Jonny Greenwood

At a recent performance by the London Contemporary Orchestra, featuring music composed by Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood, members of the audience were asked to contribute to the music by loading a web page on their smart phones and play a Web Audio-powered instrument along with the performers on stage. The instrument was devised and built by London agency With Associates, and their developer Jamie shares the experience and some of the code in this informative blog post.

When I speak to people who build applications using Web Audio I often hear about its limitations and idiosyncrasies. But I think it’s really important to remember that the API allows this kind of experimentation and mass-participation - everyone with a smartphone that runs a recent browser has a powerful, networked musical environment waiting to be used!


Tucked away in one of Srikumar Subramanian’s repositories on Github is this really interesting library which extends Web Audio’s ScriptProcessorNode in very useful ways. ScriptProcessorNode allows you to write custom audio processing code at the sample level using javascript. But the node provided by Web Audio has some limitations around connectivity and the ability to add AudioParams to control the output of the node based on the input from other nodes. Srikumar has a very neat approach to solving some of these limitations, and his library is sure to be useful to anyone who wants to implement their own custom processing but still use the built-in nodes alongside.


Musicians are used to describing sound in terms of keys, scales and notes. The Web Audio API prefers us to use frequencies in Hertz. The solution? Music.js is simple but powerful javascript library that allows you to convert between the two.

Making car sounds with web audio synthesis

For their recent Red Bull racing game for Chrome on iOS, web development studio Earth People used the Web Audio API to generate the sound of the car’s engine. The blog post is a little light on the details of the synthesis of the engine noise itself, but the demo they do link to is a compact example of frequency modulation (where one oscillator controls the frequency of another). It’s great to see Web Audio being used for browser games too.

Roland announces successor to TR-808

The classic and much-emulated Roland TR-808 drum machine is now X years old. Roland have just announced its successor, the TR-8. What I find really interesting about this is that the lack of a screen is described in the demo video as a feature of the machine rather than a limitation. It is sometimes hard to imagine that on the web platform we will ever be able to have interfaces as powerful as desktop applications such as Pro Tools, Ableton Live or Logic Pro. But the continued popularity of machines such as the TR-808 and its successor, show us that music-making can be done with innovative, humane and simple interfaces - something which the web can excel at.