The Myth of the steep learning curve

There’s a common misconception floating around that says that modular languages have a so-called ‘steep learning curve’.

But in fact it’s actually incredibly easy to learn how to operate Kyma. All you have to remember is three words: Point, Click and Space — point at the Sound you want to hear, click to select it, press space to hear it (and press space again to stop it). Dead simple, right?

The myth of the steep-learning-curve may arise from the fact that a modular/recombinant language provides you with basic elements and the means for combining those elements to make new sounds. And that’s an open invitation to learn more about sound, signal processing, music, physics, mathematics, life, and the universe.

So, yes, you can spend your entire life learning new things about sound — and you’ll enjoy every step of the way! Not to mention the satisfaction that comes from achieving each new level of expertise and becoming sought-after as a sound designer, composer, performer, consultant, teacher, or “that person” everyone goes to with their sound design and tech questions.

Ask yourself this: “Do I want to keep buying a fish every time I need a new synthesis or processing algorithm? Or do I want to finally learn how to fish so I can feast at the endless all-you-can-eat smorgasbord of sonic delicacies for the rest of my life?”

Power of recombinance (value beyond measure)

There is the desire of a consumer society to have no learning curves. This tends to result in very dumbed-down products that are easy to get started on, but are generally worthless and/or debilitating.

-Alan Kay, Turing award winner, futurist, inventor of the e-book & tablets, GUIs, object-oriented programming pioneer

Imagine for a moment that you have 100 plug-ins. Now, using a rough estimate of their average cost-per-plug-in, calculate how much 100 of them cost by adding two zeroes onto the average cost per plug-in.

Now imagine the 400 building blocks in Kyma. If you were to combine them pairwise into new signal flow graphs — you’d end up with roughly 160 thousand new algorithms! Realistically, we can’t expect all of those to be brilliant, so let’s be harsh and say that only 1% of them are any good—that still gives you 1600 new sounds.

Of course it’s rare for a Kyma signal flow to include only 2 modules; on average, there are about 10 modules per patch. If you calculate all the combinations of 400 objects taken 10 at a time, the result is


otherwise known as 93 million billion billion or 93 septillion new sound synthesis and processing algorithms.

In other words, power of recombinance is so vast, it’s beyond measure — it is literally priceless.

More about the Kyma software