Front Ends

Front ends are programs that provide some form of user interface for Csound. Within these programs, Csound is used to generate sound, and familiarity with Csound code is required in order to use them. Front ends typically add helpful features, such as syntax coloring, graphic widgets, or tools for algorithmic score generation, that are not part of Csound itself. Most of these programs were created by a single person, so some of them are not being maintained. Below is a list (certainly not complete, and perhaps not up to date) of front ends available for Csound.

Most often, you'll want to download and install Csound itself before downloading and installing a front end. Some front ends require particular versions of Csound, so if you plan to use a front end, it's recommended that you verify its compatibility before installing Csound.


QuteCsound is a versatile, cross-platform GUI (graphical user interface) which is bundled with the standard Csound distribution. Created and maintained by Andres Cabrera, QuteCsound provides a multi-tabbed editor, graphic widgets for real-time sound control, and an opcode help system that links to this manual. At this writing (2011) QuteCsound is in active development, so the version installed in your system when you install Csound may not be the most current. The most recent version can be found at


A cross-platform composition-oriented front end written by Steven Yi in Java. The user interface provides a timeline structured somewhat like a digital multitrack, but differs in that timelines can be embedded within timelines (polyObjects). This allows for a compositional organization in time that many users will find intuitive, informative, and flexible. Each instrument and score section in a blue project has its own editing window, which makes organizing large projects easier. Blue can be downloaded at Blue Home Page.


Uses Csound, and also incorporates its own score generation language. Not updated since 2004, but should run in Mac OSX and Linux. Available from


A front end for the Macintosh, MacCsound provides a text editor, graphic editing of control signals, and other features. Available at the MacCsound Page. MacCsound requires the Universal version of Csound, not the Intel version, and with OS 10.6 also requires Rosetta, which is located in the OSX installer DVD for 10.6 but is not installed by default.


A convenient front-end for Windows with syntax highlighting. You can get it at the WinXsound Front Page.


Cabel is a graphical user interface for building Csound instruments by patching modules, similar to the approach used in modular synthesizers and graphical programming environments such as Pd. Cross-platform, written in Python. While Cabel seems (as of 2011) not to have been updated in four years, it still works with current versions of Csound. Available from


Csound5GUI is a cross-platform GUI. Formerly part of the standard Csound distribution, it is now available as source code and possibly as a downloadable .exe for Windows. It implements most configuration features of Csound.


This is a simple Java program to play csd files. It is included in the standard distribution, and will be of interest mainly to Java programmers.


Like Csound5GUI, Winsound was formerly part of the main Csound tree. It is now available only as source code. Winsound is a cross-platform FLTK port of Barry Vercoe's original front-end for csound. Some partially sighted or unsighted users report success using Winsound with text-to-speech software.

Csound Editor

Csound Editor is no longer being maintained, but it's still available from Flavio Tordini's Home Page. For Windows systems, includes syntax highlighting.

In addition to the main front ends listed above, here are some other programs that may qualify as front ends, depending on your definition:

GRACE/Common Music:


Python Scripting

You can use CsoundAC as a Python extension module. You can do this in a standard Python interpreter, such as Python command line or the Idle Python GUI.

To use CsoundAC in a standard Python interpreter, import CsoundAC.

      import CsoundAC

The CsoundAC module automatically creates an instance of CppSound named csound, which provides an object-oriented interface to the Csound API. In a standard Python interpreter, you can load a Csound .csd file and perform it like this:

      C:\Documents and Settings\mkg>python
      Python 2.3.3 (#51, Dec 18 2003, 20:22:39) [MSC v.1200 32 bit (Intel)] on win32
      Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information.
      >>> import CsoundAC
      >>> csound.load("c:/projects/csound5/examples/trapped.csd")
      >>> csound.exportForPerformance()
      >>> csound.perform()
      BEGAN CppSound::perform(5, 988ee0)...
      BEGAN CppSound::compile(5, 988ee0)...
      Using default language
      0dBFS level = 32767.0
      Csound version 5.00 beta (float samples) Jun  7 2004
      orchname:  temp.orc
      scorename: temp.sco
      orch compiler:
      398 lines read
      instr   1
      instr   2
      instr   3
      instr   4
      instr   5
      instr   6
      instr   7
      instr   8
      instr   9
      instr   10
      instr   11
      instr   12
      instr   13
      instr   98
      instr   99
      sorting score ...
      ... done
      Csound version 5.00 beta (float samples) Jun  6 2004
      displays suppressed
      0dBFS level = 32767.0
      orch now loaded
      audio buffered in 16384 sample-frame blocks
      SFDIR undefined.  using current directory
      writing 131072-byte blks of shorts to test.wav
      SECTION 1:
      ENDED CppSound::compile.
      ftable 1:
      ftable 2:
      ftable 3:
      ftable 4:
      ftable 5:
      ftable 6:
      ftable 7:
      ftable 8:
      ftable 9:
      ftable 10:
      ftable 11:
      ftable 12:
      ftable 13:
      ftable 14:
      ftable 15:
      ftable 16:
      ftable 17:
      ftable 18:
      ftable 19:
      ftable 20:
      ftable 21:
      ftable 22:
      new alloc for instr 1:
      B  0.000 ..  1.000 T  1.000 TT  1.000 M:     32.7      0.0
      new alloc for instr 1:
      B  1.000 ..  3.600 T  3.600 TT  3.600 M:    207.6      0.1
      B 93.940 .. 94.418 T 98.799 TT281.799 M:    477.6     85.0
      B 94.418 ..100.000 T107.172 TT290.172 M:    118.9     11.5
      end of section 4         sect peak amps:  25950.8  26877.4
      inactive allocs returned to freespace
      end of score.              overall amps:  32204.8  31469.6
      overall samples out of range:        0        0
      0 errors in performance
      782 131072-byte soundblks of shorts written to test.wav WAV
      Elapsed time = 13.469000 seconds.
      ENDED CppSound::perform.

The script shows how to use Python to do algorithmic composition for Csound. You can use Python triple-quoted string literals to hold your Csound files right in your script, and assign them to Csound:

      csound.setOrchestra('''sr = 44100
      kr = 441
      ksmps = 100
      nchnls = 2
      0dbfs = .1
      instr 1,2,3,4,5 ; FluidSynth General MID
      ; Channel, bank, and program determine the preset, that is, the actual sound.
      ichannel		=			p1
      iprogram		=			p6
      ikey	 		= 			p4
      ivelocity 		= 			p5 + 12
      ijunk6 			= 			p6
      ijunk7			=			p7
      ; AUDIO
      istatus			=			144;
      print			iprogram, istatus, ichannel, ikey, ivelocityaleft, aright
      fluid			"c:/projects/csound5/samples/VintageDreamsWaves-v2.sf2", \\
      iprogram, istatus, ichannel, ikey, ivelocity, 1
      outs 			aleft, arightendin''')
      csound.setCommand("csound --opcode-lib=c:/projects/csound5/fluid.dll \\
      -RWdfo ./koch.wav ./temp.orc ./temp.sco")