Nyquist Property List Tutorial

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Revision as of 19:54, 13 January 2019 by Stevethefiddle (talk | contribs) (*TRACK* CLIPS Property)
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Variables and Property Lists

In general terms, a variable is a symbol which contains a value. The symbol can be any valid name, and its value may be changed (hence "variable"). In Nyquist, the value may be of any data type (for example, a number, a character, or even a sound) and may be changed from one data type to another. Unlike some programming languages, variables do not need to be declared before use - they can just be set, and then they exist.
In addition to the value of the variable, one or more "properties" may also be attached to the symbol. Each "property" has a name and a value. The properties are known collectively as the symbol's "property list".

Setting the value of a symbol "binds" the value to the symbol. A symbol that has no value (not even "nil") is said to be "unbound".

In addition to the value of a symbol, we can also attach properties. This is a way of associating a list of items, each with their own value, to a single variable. Each item is called a key or indicator, and we can give each key a value. This list of items is called a "property list" (or plist for short).

To get the value of a property, we use the GET command.

When getting the value of a property, we do NOT want to evaluate either the variable (symbol) or the key symbol, so we must "quote" both symbols to prevent evaluation.

  • Lisp syntax
(get 'varaiable-name 'property-name)
  • SAL syntax
set v = get(quote(varaiable-name ), quote(property-name))


The following examples may be run in the Nyquist Prompt.
For the full list of global property lists, refer to the Nyquist Plug-ins Reference.

*TRACK* NAME Property

When the type of a plug-in is process or analyze, Audacity sets the value of *TRACK* to the currently selected audio, and sets a lists of properties related to that track. The plug-in processes one track at a time in sequence, and the *TRACK* variable is set each time for the track that is being processed.

The value of *TRACK* provides direct access to the selected audio, and its property list provides access to other properties of the track. The NAME property provides the name of the Audacity track that is currently being processed. To access the value of the NAME property, we use the GET command.

;codetype lisp
(get '*TRACK* 'NAME)
;codetype sal
return get(quote(*TRACK*), quote(NAME))

The GET command returns the value of the property (the name of the track), which may be assigned to another variable and used elsewhere in the code. For example, to print a pretty message:

;codetype lisp
(setf track-name (get '*TRACK* 'NAME))
(format nil "The name of the current track is ~s." track-name)
Warning icon See also Property List Functions in the XLisp manual.

*TRACK* CLIPS Property

This property contains a list of start and end times of each audio clip in the track. This property is more likely to find uses in Nyquist Macros than in standard Nyquist plug-ins.
Note that this property refers to the entire selected track, and not only the selected portion of the track.

*TRACK* CLIPS data for mono tracks

For mono tracks, the CLIPS property is a list, containing a two element list for each clip in the selected track. A mono track with two audio clips will look like ((s1 e1)(s2 e2)) where s1 and s2 to are the start times of the two clips, and e1 and e2 are the end times.

This code snippet will print the start and end times of the first audio clip in a mono track:

(setf track-clips (get '*track* 'clips))
(print (first track-clips))

It is important to remember that Nyquist sees the start of the current selection as "time=zero". Thus if we wish to actual track times in Nyquist, we must offset the times by the start time of the current selection. We can create a point label at time=0 with (list (list 0 0 "")), but this is relative to the start of the current selection. If we want to create a label at time=zero as shown in the Timeline regardless of where the selection starts, then we must offset the label times by the start time of the selection.

Fortunately it is easy to find the absolute start time of the selection by using "START" property of the *SELECTION* variable: (get '*selection* 'start). We can create a label at an absolute time (relative to Audacity's Timeline) like this:

(setf label-time 10) ;the absolute time for the label is at the 10 second mark
(setf offset (get '*selection* 'start))
(list (list (- label-time offset)(- label-time offset) ""))

We can now put this all together and create a label for each audio clip in the selected track:

;type analyze
(setf track-clips (get '*track* 'clips))
(setf start (get '*selection* 'start))

(let (labels) ;initialise "labels" variable with NIL value.
  (dolist (c track-clips labels)
    (setf label
      (list (- (first c) start)
            (- (second c) start)
    (push label labels)))

*TRACK* CLIPS data for stereo tracks

Just as stereo sounds are represented as an array of sounds, so the track "clip" data for stereo tracks is an array of lists (one list per channel). A stereo track with two audio clips in each channel will look like: #(((s1 e1)(s2 e2))((s3 e3)(s4 e3))) where s1 to s4 to are the start times, and e1 to e4 are the end times.

This code snippet will print the start and end times of the first audio clip in the left channel of a stereo track:

(setf track-clips (get '*track* 'clips))
(setf left-channel (aref track-clips 0)) ; the list of clips in the left channel
(print (first left-channel))

In a similar manner to the mono example, we can create a label for each clip in a stereo track:

;type analyze
(setf track-clips (get '*track* 'clips))
(setf start (get '*selection* 'start))
(setf labels ())  ;an empty list

(defun add-labels (data text)
  (dolist (c data)
    (setf label
      (list (- (first c) start)
            (- (second c) start)
    (push label labels)))

(multichan-expand #'add-labels track-clips #("Left" "Right"))
labels ;Reurn labels