JSyn - modular synthesis API for Java.
JMSL - Java Music Specification Language
PortAudio - cross platform audio I/O API for 'C'

HMSL - Hierarchical Music Specification Language

HMSL was a popular music language from 1986 to 1996. HMSL was available from Frog Peak Music. The original distribution is out of print. But the source code is available on GitHub and is being ported to modern day Macintosh and Windows.

HMSL is a programming language for experimental music composition and performance. It is an object oriented set of extensions to the Forth language for the Amiga and the Macintosh. HMSL was developed by Phil Burk, Larry Polansky and David Rosenboom at the Mills College Center for Contemporary Music.

Click here for an overview of HMSL.

Click here for downloadable examples, fixes, and the HMSL DSP code.

Listen to Some Pieces


Oct 30, /2015 - The Whitechapel Gallery in London is hosting an exhibit on HMSL curated by Luke Fowler. It contains concert notes, correspondance, documentation, artifacts, videos, and a listenng room. The exhibit runs through Feb 7, 2016.

Call for Contributions

If you are an HMSL programmer and would like to share your software, writings, or HMSL generated General MIDI files on this web site, please contact us here.

External Links

Artifact Records publishes a number of composers who use HMSL in their work including JohnBischoff, Larry Polansky, Chris Brown, and the Hub.  They also have a CD of Jim Tenney's work. Jim's theories on music provide the foundation for much of HMSL.

Nick Didkovsky is an active HMSL composer in New York who has written several articles on HMSL including:

Larry Polansky's
"Works for Performers and  Live Interactive Computer"
Simple Harmonic Motion
Han-earl Park is an active HMSL constructor from Cal Arts. Check out his "io" web site. Han imagines that "if io could describe its cognitive insides, io would describe it as running on the HMSL engine. However, io cannot describe anything."

Nick Peck's thesis "Expressive Electronics: User Interface Design and Timbral Manipulation in the Music of Nick Peck"

Steven Everett has composed extensively with HMSL.