Csound for Mac OS Classic

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Csound is a highly flexible and portable music synthesis software environment that runs on Linux, Unix, Macintosh, and Windows computers. From 2003 to 2008, I maintained the Csound “port” for Mac OS 9 and earlier (the “Legacy Mac OS” or “Classic Mac OS”) which used to be called “Mills Csound”. Below is information about various Mac versions of Csound 4 and Csound 5 plus several other related applications and utilities.

The versions of Csound described here run on PowerPC-based Macintosh computers with System 7.5, OS 7.6, OS 8, or OS 9. If you are looking for Csound for Mac OS X, I strongly encourage you to install one of the official Mac OS X packages of Csound 5 or 6 available from the official project website.

History and Credits

Csound was originally written by Barry Vercoe of the MIT Media Lab. Mills Csound is a Power Macintosh version that was created at Mills College by Matt Ingalls, Mike Berry, and Dave Madole. They were working from a version of MIT Csound for 68k Macs created by Bill Gardner and Dan Ellis with assistance from Richard Boulanger. For a time, Mills Csound was updated and supported by John ffitch of Bath University. In 2004, I released Mills Csound 4.23f12, the result of a year-and-a-half of maintenance and updates. Most recently, I ported and supported Csound 5 for Mac OS 7-9 and developed the Mac OS front end CsoundFront which is heavily based on the Mills Csound codebase. Csound 5 was developed by a collaborative team from around the world including John ffitch, Istvan Varga, Michael Gogins, Victor Lazzarini, Steven Yi, Andres Cabrera, John Ramsdell, and myself. Csound includes the contributions of countless other individuals.

Since 2003, public Csound has been free software released under the terms of the GNU LGPL 2.1 license. Csound continues to be developed by an international team of programmers, researchers, and teachers using an open-source development model hosted at github.com/csound.

Csound 5 for Mac OS

Announcement June 8, 2009

Because of diminishing interest in using Csound with the Classic Mac OS, both my own and others, development and maintainence of new versions of Csound for the Legacy Mac platform have stopped.

Read more …

Csound 5.08 released on March 17, 2008

Csound 5.00 was released in February of 2006 and several updates have been released since then. The last version available for Mac OS 7-9 is Csound 5.08 and no new versions are expected at this time. Csound 5 packages for the Legacy Mac OS are available below since they have been removed from the Csound Sourceforge project. They include the Csound system as a set of shared libraries plus the Mac OS Classic front-end redesigned for Csound 5 and now called CsoundFront.

Csound 5 is highly recommended for all users — it has many improvements, new features, and advantages over the previous Csound 4.xx series. Version 5.04 for Mac OS fixes the most significant issues of version 5.01 (such as the utilities not working) and begins to implement many new features in the front end. With version 5.05, CsoundFront can now run multiple non-real-time renders simultaneously. Version 5.06 ensures that appropriate file types and icons are assigned to all new files written by Csound and version 5.08 fixes numerous Mac OS bugs and restores real-time audio input and xyin opcode functionality.


Below are all of the “official” releases of Csound 5 for Mac OS 7-9. The “user” packages contain everything (except the Csound reference manual) that most people will need including the Csound 5 library, CsoundFront front end, MIDI to Csound and Mr. Tweaky utilities, examples, etc. The “developer” packages contain complete source code for Csound, the front end, all dependencies, and extras, which are useful to programmers wishing to use the API, develop plugins, write Cscore programs, or to recompile Csound.

Release Date User Developer
Mar 17, 2008 Csound 5.08 5.08 source
Oct 4, 2007 Csound 5.07 5.07 source
Jun 6, 2007 Csound 5.06 5.06 source
Mar 8, 2007 Csound 5.05 5.05 source
Nov 10, 2006 Csound 5.04 5.04 source
Mar 17, 2006 Csound 5.01 5.01 source
Feb 1, 2006 Csound 5.00 5.00 source

It is no longer necessary to keep Csound 4 on your computer. If you do desire to keep it around though, the Csound 4 packages available below are the ones that I recommend using the most.

Mills Csound development preview

New February 23, 2005

This package is a snapshot of the final development work that I did on Csound 4 for Macintosh computers running System 7 through OS 9. The snapshot is based on Csound 4.23f12 and is a preview release that includes new features which were in the experimental stage of development. These features were not all finished for this release and many of them (but not all) have been incorporated into Csound 5. The main applications (Csound and Perf) are stable enough for everyday use, but other included software may be tempermental.

This package will be useful to any Csound user who wants a complete set of utilities. The analysis utilities are fully functional and the other utilities are included as separate console applications (most of which work). If you download and use any version of Mac OS Csound, I would really appreciate your feedback.

Download binary release: Csound-20050223.img.bin (2.7MB)
Download source code: Csound-source-20050223.img.bin (3.2MB)
Read the Release Notes

Changes in this snapshot:

  • Creates sound files owned by SoundHack again with proper file types as well.
  • Added Victor Lazzarini’s GEN 43 for use with the pvsbasic opcodes (available as part of Opcode Plugin Pack A below).
  • New menu items for “Keep sorted score” (-t0) and “No PEAK chunks” (-K)
  • New opcode plug-in libraries including Matt Ingalls’ pconvolve, some table opcodes from CsoundAV, and the ATS resynthesis opcodes.
  • Several other interface and cosmetic changes.

Opcode Plugin Pack A

Updated February 7, 2005

This is a package of new opcodes for Csound 4 packaged as “plugins.” The libraries in this distribution are designed to be used with Mills Csound 4.23f12 and the development snapshots on this page. They do not work with Csound 5 or MacCsound. Many of the included opcodes are now a part of Csound 5 though (and, by extension, the latest versions of MacCsound). The following opcode libraries have NOT been added to Csound 5 yet because they are flawed or deemed not useful enough (by me): chosclib, spirallib, shapelib, and hardsynclib. Please send me an email if you use them and would like them added to Csound 5.

Plugin Pack A adds a collection of new opcodes from several different authors to your Csound resources. There are 7 plugin libraries with a total of 22 new unit generators. Included are: pvsbasiclib, newfilterslib, and syncgrainlib by Victor Lazzarini; chosclib by John ffitch; spirallib from Bradley Bell; and shapelib and hardsynclib by Anthony Kozar.

Examples, documentation, and source code are included.

Download Mac package: OpcodePluginPackA1.0.smi.bin (949K)
Download platform-independent sources: OpcodePluginPackA1.0.tgz (577K)

Mills Csound development preview (old)

New September 10, 2004

This is the previous preview release of Mills Csound 4. The same caveats apply as for the above release.

Download binary release: Csound-20040910.img.bin (2.1MB)
Download source code: Csound-source-20040910.img.bin (3.0MB)
Read the Release Notes

This snapshot includes:

  • Csound front end with ability to easily select between multiple Perf engines
  • Perf 4.23f12 with enhanced features:
    • Cscore plug-ins: a new experimental feature only on the Mac which allows you to load cscore programs from shared libraries in the Perf folder instead of having to recompile Perf in its entirety. Use the “–cscore-lib=” command-line flag to load some of the example plug-ins (e.g. “–cscore-lib=DoubleDurations”). An SDK (software development kit) with details on how to create your own Cscore plug-ins is available below.
  • New Perf64 application
    • Uses 64-bit double-precision floating-point numbers for internal calculations.
    • Runs a little bit slower but provides greater accuracy in rendering your files.
  • Standalone versions of utilities from Unix-based Csound:
    • Score Sort (scsort)
    • Score Extract (scxtract)
    • Scot (Score translation language)
    • Envelope Extract
    • Scale Soundfile
    • SndInfo
    • Hetro Export
    • Hetro Import
    • LPC Export
    • LPC Import
    • PV Export
    • PV Import
  • Plug-in libraries for the opcodes pans, metro, splitrig, and timedseq.
  • Cscore example plug-ins: Double Durations, Quad Stretch, and Parallel Fifths.
  • Everything should now run on Systems 7 & 8

Csound 4.23f12

The last “official” version of Csound 4

New August 19, 2004

Csound 4.23f12 was the last version of canonical Csound 4 for Mac OS.  Binary and source code packages are available below.

This is an update of the Mills College version of Csound developed by Matt Ingalls, Dave Madole, and Mike Berry. It includes Perf 4.23f12, fully updated with the latest canonical code including all bug fixes that were in CVS as of Aug. 18th, 2004. This release also includes Csound 1.5.4, a new version of the Mac graphical front-end which includes numerous bug fixes and feature updates that allow it to take advantage of recent changes in canonical Csound.

Download binary release: MillsCsound4.23f12.smi.bin (1.1MB)
Download source code: MillsCsound4.23f12src.smi.bin (2.8MB)

See the release notes on Sourceforge or the information in the distribution itself for full details of the changes in Csound 4.23f12 for Macs.

Mac Cscore SDK

New July 20, 2004

A software development kit for making Cscore standalone programs and Cscore plugins for Mac OS 9 and earlier. Version 1.1 of the SDK adds support and project files for CodeWarrior Pro 4 or later. This file is a self-mounting disk image.

Standalone Cscore programs will work with any version of Csound. Cscore plugins only work with the Csound 4 snapshots on this page (for now). Csound 5 includes an updated Cscore API but it is still buggy at this time. Once it is stable, I will try to provide a new SDK.

Download: MacCscoreSDK1.1.smi.bin (784K)

New July 7, 2004

The first release, version 1.0 of the SDK only has projects for CodeWarrior Pro 8 or later. This file is a self-mounting disk image.

Download: MacCscoreSDK1.0.smi.bin (632K)

Score Changer

The Score Changer software has moved to my music software page.

Mr. Tweaky

This is a very old (1996) utility written by Dave Madole for importing and exporting Csound analysis files as text. For example, you can export a hetro analysis file as text and edit the amplitude values by hand, then import it back to the hetro format for use with Csound. Includes support for heterodyne filter analysis, LPC analysis, phase vocoder, and convolution (impulse response) data files. Comes with C source code.

Download: MrTweaky.img.bin (132K)

Istvan Varga’s Score Utilities

This package is a Macintosh port of three Csound score utilities written by Istvan Varga. The utilities are Midi2Score, ScoreProc, and TempoMod. The ports of very minimalistic and require an understanding of the command-line usage of the originals. Full source code and CodeWarrior projects are included.

Download: ScoreUtilities1_0_0.smi.bin (384K)

Other Csound tools for Mac OS

  • AC Toolbox – Lisp-based composition with a graphical interface.
  • athenaCL – A composition environment with Python-scripting.
  • Bol Processor 2 – Composition software using formal grammars
    Last release for Mac OS 9: June 2007.
  • Cecilia – An alternate front end for Csound.
  • CMask – Stochastic score generator
    Last release for Mac OS 9: January 2013.
  • Common Music – Lisp-based composition environment.
  • CornBucket – A score generator for granular synthesis
    Last release for Mac OS 9: December 2006.
  • Csound Massage – Hypercard stack for manipulating and generating scores.
  • Curve Control – Another granular score generator with envelope editors.
  • Envelope – Graphically edit GEN 7 f-tables.
  • Midi to Csound – Convert Standard Midi files into Csound scores
    Last release for Mac OS 9: February 2007.
  • Midi to Csound – (older 68k Mac version).
  • nGen – A score generator à la CMask and Score11.
  • Spliner – Graphically edit spline curves for use with Csound.

If any of these links become inaccessible, please email me and I will send you a copy of the software.

Sending Feedback

I am always happy to hear from people who are using my work but note that I am no longer working on this software. Feel free to leave a public comment below or send other feedback via the email address on my contact page.


2 thoughts on “Csound for Mac OS Classic

    1. Anthony Post author


      Thanks for your interest and question regarding Csound for Mac OS Classic.

      The latest version available is Csound 5.08 and the downloads are at


      To get the Csound applications & library, download the file named “Csound5.08-OS9.smi.bin“. If you want the source code, download “Csound5.08-OS9-src.smi.bin” in addition to the applications. The manual is available separately from this page:


      You will need a utility such as Stuffit Expander that can decode the MacBinary format in order to open these downloads. (If you download from a web browser on Mac OS Classic, that step may be done automatically). Decoding will remove “.bin” from the filenames, leaving you with self-mounting Disk Copy disk images that you can open by double-clicking.

      Please let me know if you have any more questions!


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