Go Guitar // Record Sound

As part of my ongoing project to write a Go program to recognize different guitar chords and get a better understanding of sound processing, a first milestone has been reached: recording a raw sound sample in Go. In this article I’ll walk through the source code to record sounds using a wrapper for PortAudio and visualize the recorded sample in gnuplot. The whole source code for this blog post can be found in the corresponding GitHub repository.

We start with some boilterplate initialization, in particular we import the Go port of the PortAudio library.

package main

import (

In a Go example (which source I unfortunately can’t remember) I saw this pattern to handle CTRL+C in a running program using channels: We create a signal handler which is notified if SIGHUP or SIGKILL is received and stores a value in the newly created channel:

func main() {
    sig := make(chan os.Signal, 1)
    signal.Notify(sig, os.Interrupt, os.Kill)
    fmt.Println("Starting recording, press CTRL+C to abort.")

Before we actually start processing sampling data, we have to initialize the library, prepare the data buffer and create the output file:

    // Initialize library.
    defer portaudio.Terminate()

    // Create buffer for sampling data and open the stream.
    in := make([]int32, 1024)
    stream, err := portaudio.OpenDefaultStream(1, 0, 8192, len(in), in)
    defer stream.Close()

    // Create file to store data.
    f, _ := os.Create("out.csv")
    defer f.Close()

For my readers not familiar with Go: Note the idiomatic use of defer which is a kind of finally-construct in languages like Java.

After these initializations we can finally process audio data. Given our buffer size of 1024 and a sampling rate of 8192 samples per second, our buffer will be filled 8192 / 1024 = 8 times per second:

    // Read sampleRate/len(in) samples per second.
    sampleN := 0
    for {

        // Create the CSV values for this sample and store them in file.
        buffer := new(bytes.Buffer)
        for i, v := range in {
            pos := sampleN*len(in) + i
            buffer.WriteString(fmt.Sprintf("%d,%d\n", pos, v))
        fmt.Println("#samples", sampleN)

        // Check if we should exit?
        select {
        case <-sig:

        sampleN += 1

The function check is a simple helper function to panic on any error, i.e.

func check(err error) {
    if err != nil {

If we build and execute our code with

$ go get
$ go run main.go
Starting recording, press CTRL+C to abort.
#samples 0
#samples 1
#samples 2
#samples 3
#samples 4
#samples 5
#samples 6
#samples 7
#samples 8
#samples 9
#samples 10
#samples 11
#samples 12
#samples 13
#samples 14
#samples 15
#samples 16
#samples 17
#samples 18
#samples 19
#samples 20
#samples 21
#samples 22
#samples 23

a CSV file out.csv will be generated. Each line contains a single sample of a 8192 chunk of recorded audio data, e.g.

$  head -n 1000 out.csv|tail -n 10

We can visualize the recording of me saying Hello, Hello with gnuplot by executing

$ gnuplot
set datafile separator ","
set grid
set yrange [-1e+9:1e+9]
plot 'out.csv'

hello audio sampling

Next steps: To gain a deeper understanding of sound I’d like to understand the physical nature of sound waves better. Afterwards I’ll tackle real-time visualization of recorded sound data in Go before I finally try the recognition of guitar chords.