I cannot recommend this talk enough. First off, he was way ahead of the curve on this, tech-wise. For this article to not mention him is frustrating.
Secondly, Giles was both hilarious and inspiring. His presentation kept people in rapture; 10 minutes into lunch, not one person in the room left.
Not diminishing how awesome Giles is, but it wasn't original in '08. It may not have been original in '98.
Oh please; there is a very long history of algorithmic derived music before computers and just after they appeared up to present day.... "All this has happened before, and all of it will happen again."
The YouTube audio links in that article sound just like what it sounded like 10 years ago. I ralphed when the live coding manifesto was released... I've been a long time SuperCollider user too....
I mean continue... It's just nothing new or that compelling in this format / live coding, etc..
edit: Giles can be fun though, but it's been a while.. I attended a presentation of his back around then on his efforts.. :)
It's interesting because some things have changed. There are more tools like SuperCollider, and they have become easier to install and on more platforms. And devices have become more powerful, reducing latency and unintended glitches due to processing requirements.
There also seems to be more languages people can use for this.
And more people seem to know about it.
So with all that you would expect to hear of more interesting things being done.
It feels, though, that the practitioners are prone to getting caught up in the pseudo-novelty (novel, at least, to them) of how it is done at the expense of creating music that presents some engaging development arc.
Reminds me of music created by some aleatoric process (Cage's I Ching stuff, perhaps). Interesting to think about and to discuss, less interesting to actually listen to for very long.
It probably wouldn't come with any surprise that I favor Harry Partch over Cage as far as modern American iconoclast composers go.. :)
>It feels, though, that the practitioners are prone to getting caught up in the pseudo-novelty (novel, at least, to them) of how it is done at the expense of creating music that presents some engaging development arc.
Indeed, this is the crux of the matter / critique as that was very apparent from the get go of the live coding (LC) movement. I think LC is a tool which can be useful at times for exploring different sounds, but is not well suited as a performance mechanism. There is no or little apparent composition process involved in what I have seen over 10 years of LC. The mechanism in itself does not make lasting art, but if used at bare minimum via the process of selection as part of a larger compositional process it is valid. I'm sure somewhere in the LC community this is happening, but it certainly isn't how the status quo operates or how LC is presented at large.
In regard to TOPLAP et al; if you need to lead a "movement" with a manifesto to justify the musical output you're doing it wrong... Or in other words this movement like many before with leanings toward the avant-garde does not address that at the end of the day it's a handful of folks performing for other LC aficionados and no one else. One shouldn't need to buy into the manifesto to appreciate LC as art.
In many ways by elevating LC to "movement status" it can capture and beguile a generation of computer musicians including HN readers who are new to computer music concepts & generative / algorithmic music. It's not the only game in town so to speak though I do have general respect for the immediatism aspect of LC as far as it aligns with the mechanism and performance in regard to just getting out there and "doing it".
My experience and lifes work on the coding / performance side could be considered an antithesis to the LC movement; it's been a solo journey for me so far. My work has not been released yet though I may have been one of the first to build an alternative client / framework for SuperCollider ('02). It all started there and work continues today though it's branched beyond solely music / audio control, but I do hope to get back to music / performance applications and heck performing once the larger effort is released (and shock / gasp perhaps I'll make income to support the art side of things and future music-tech efforts).
I've already commended LC on immediatism aspects and this also includes community development. I question if large audiences have been found.
Technically I'm not against LC or experimental electronic music... I'm against folks elevating the technique as a thing beyond just another basic tool in the toolbox.
I guess by your estimation this is a tiny audience with no musical composition involved.
Are you seriously declaring that your own work is more compositionally developed than any of the 100s of live coders working over the past ten years? While clearly knowing little about the movement or the events we put on?
And do you think the manifesto is particularly serious? Have you read it?
It's in a large hall with nice projections and apparently still no one dancing.. Plus it's in Germany (so maybe someone is dancing!) and _part of a much larger multi-day city wide festival that was well attended_; in other words.. nice try. Give it a go in the US sometime at a non-festival based event and good luck with that... I'm sure most of the one off LC events are of average non-mainstream club going size, 100 if lucky, and composed of mostly performers and their significant others + handful of chin scratching friends.
In regard to "no musical composition...", well if I had to guess there is probably plenty of basic _production_ involved, but well before the performance as part of a basic selection process. This selection process being no more advanced per se than most electronic music production using off the shelf software. Advanced composition... not so much...
In this case the aspect of replacing turning a knob on a controller or hitting a key on a keyboard by choosing pre-determined (when things actually sound good!) algorithmic sequences by a small code change effectively does nothing to move live performance forward. Technically without having more insight into the linked performance I'd argue that there is a high chance it's also not truly "live coding".
The REPL as the new keyboard is not novel and should not grant the music created in this direction any extra staying power or attention.
>While clearly knowing little about the movement or the events we put on?
What makes you think that especially when it comes to the technology involved? I personally would enjoy a LC event and if I'm ever nearby one I'd probably actually check it out.
The whole LC movement if you will seems more like an excuse for various artists to get involved with a meme who otherwise would not be given any attention at all; a relatively good thing for your average computer music student within or just out of academia I guess. Smoke and mirrors basically...
>And do you think the manifesto is particularly serious? Have you read it?
No, it's ridiculous, and indeed I read it when it first came out ~10 years ago.. I assume it's not less ridiculous now?
>Are you seriously declaring that your own work....
Uh, no, you're erroneously suggesting that, but that was my only mistake in this dialogue because it's the only thing you apparently can attack while avoiding a sound critique of LC. I took note of live coding capabilities and put them in the toolbox and continued on my way...
Like I said LC is a very basic technique and one of many in the toolbox. I use it at times, but just not up on stage or as an excuse as to why my process is worth paying attention to over any other.
from a previous yaxu post:
>"This is not the future of electronic music, but now we've given it a stupid name people seem to be more interested."
We agree on something... :)
Would you agree that there is a fairly high percentage of artists performing under the LC banner that indeed precompose the majority of their performance?
You seem to realize the actual situation and you must understand you are not trying to convince someone who is new to the domain / computer music or someone who doesn't write their own extensive software for creative coding.
It was all hype then; it's all hype now... This doesn't mean live coding as a tool is invalid; just that it's being used at worst by tools to justify why they are special and the music isn't.
At the end of the day one could argue that any attention by the larger public to computer music derived tools & techniques (SuperCollider, Chuck, Max/MSP, etc.) is a good thing, but there will be those like myself that will throw up a little in our mouths behind the scene...
LC still doesn't solve the public appreciation / performance gap for computer music; it's still a perplexing problem and one that is going to require moving beyond LC to continue making progress.
Live coding brings up interesting aesthetic and political issues (see 'speaking code', MIT press), as well as research questions and potential wider impacts (both recently validated via intensive research council blind peer review). If you're a computer music person, check the upcoming Spring issue of Computer Music Journal for some interesting perspectives.
Algorave comes into the category of 'serious fun', and we have attracted audiences in the 200 range.
"Algorave is the future of electronic music" is a ridiculous statement by a sub-editor. Algorithms are part of the history of electronic music, and part of the future, but we're not striving to replace existing EDM production techniques or anything.
There have been pretty big international festivals dedicated to live coding in a few different countries. Last month I live coded in front of hundreds of non-live coders at a diverse range of events. The biggest was probably in Denmark, in the hundreds.
I wasn't there, but understand that Mandelbrots gig is outside, playing at midnight headlining a big stage. It's clearly a polished performance, but I believe they did four performances during that festival, half of which were blank slate.
Some pre-compose parts which they manipulate, some (including myself) go from a blank page. I thought you were in favour of composition, personally I love to improvise as much as possible live.
"Give it a go in the US sometime" - woah, you are special, aren't you? I don't know why live coding hasn't caught on so much in the US, it could be something to do with the top-down laptop orchestra model there, I don't know though, I've never been. Things seem stronger in Canada though and Mexico probably has the most vibrant live coding scene going.
You mean I have to cancel my bumper sticker order with this phrase:
Those who can code, code; those who can't "live code"...
tongue in cheek (sort of?)... geez... ;P I should mention I didn't exactly jump into the comments here to discuss LC or the algorave event in particular. I'm all for it essentially, but squeamish when LC is used as a generic banner / buzz word to promote things to the larger public.
My comments below are not directed at you personally as we seem to share the lack of interest in hype or misuse of LC in event or self-promotion, etc. I might mention I like your music and a portion of other LCers too.
>Some pre-compose parts which they manipulate, some (including myself) go from a blank page. I thought you were in favour of composition, personally I love to improvise as much as possible live.
Keeping in mind that I'm still using real-time synthesis engines, mostly SuperCollider server, there is an awful lot of more interesting compositional possibilities _and_ improvisational mechanisms when one can custom code a control and visualization client versus using built in standard control mechanisms of a more generic interface like sclang or even overtone (haven't looked at it).
While somewhat tongue in cheek as this is informed from my observation, mostly 5-10+ years ago, is that the LC movement if you will originated from language / client environments where "the REPL" for most investigating the tech was where folks ended up because they lacked the ability to effectively custom code things in sclang let alone create their own client. That at least is the surrounding situation from my perspective that spawned the LC movement and more so a reason for a manifesto to "cover up" / justify said inability.
Technically most LCers don't start with a "blank slate". One is piecing together by code / REPL pre-arranged control mechanisms of any given client environment. One doesn't exactly create wholly unique control structures on the fly. At best one may be able to create a composition of pre-existing control structures built into the environment or as you say pre-made / composed by the artist. The LC aspect is just a superfluous by product of the type of client and not actually what is happening in regard to on the fly creation of wholly new control structures improvisationally or otherwise.
Aesthetically I perceive it as born of artificial constraints due to the inability by the initial round of purviewers. This doesn't mean there isn't some original really cool stuff happening with LC. I've yet to find it though, but totally support folks who wish to travel down this route.
As I mentioned before LC is a valid and useful tool in the larger toolbox of techniques. I also fully admit I need to get caught up on the LC community regarding advances that I may have not been paying attention to over the years (specifically last 5).
I'd posit that 80% if not more of what goes on at an "algorave" is not "live coding", but I suppose that depends on any given lineup. "LC" as applied to a larger event which is not wholly dedicated to LC artists does just become a catchy phrase. Getting any deeper opinion wise gets a little too nuanced for a HN comment discussion.
>"Give it a go in the US sometime" - woah, you are special, aren't you? I don't know why live coding hasn't caught on so much in the US, it could be something to do with the top-down laptop orchestra model there, I don't know though, I've never been.
The US is strange for electronic music let alone computer music. Despite a fair amount going on in a handful of metropolitan areas I call it the "ass end of the world" as far as anything off the beaten path is concerned even for traditionally oriented electronic dance music that is much more accepted abroad let alone experimental electronic music / computer music. That statement is also informed by the 10 years I spent trying to promote somewhat experimental dance music. I don't exactly want to get trapped by personal anecdotes, but that is kind of where that statement is coming from per se; hopefully the "next guy / gal" has more success. As far as the top-down laptop orchestra model goes that seemingly is more of a side-effect of the cloistered / mostly closed off academic bubble for computer music in the US.
LC and the algorave concept certainly benefits from the general European festival scene I'm sure, so does more traditionally aligned offbeat electronic dance music which receives a firm outsider place in the larger US scene which is extremely stratified. Out here if you don't fall into 1 of ~6 well defined buckets then forget about it; don't even try to straddle between 2 of the buckets because it just doesn't fly... Basically there is no industry over here let alone scene for this kind of stuff whereas in Europe seemingly there is wider acceptance in general. It's interesting to hear about more acceptance in Canada / Mexico for LC though from a scene based perspective.
In the US with the views above taken into consideration, but also including the associated economics of the situation (dire / you're on your own) then one can see why not much has changed historically in regard to the US being the land of the independent maverick composer / performer especially for those outside the academic sphere of things who are experimentally minded.
I don't think people get into live coding because they're inadequate in some way, but I suppose that's a personal quality judgement. If you're talking about the first wave of supercollider live coders you're talking about people like Julian Rohrhuber, Nick Collins, and Alberto de Campo. These are wonderful people, core supercollider contributors, and highly respected in their field both as practitioners and researchers.
The focus on liveness rather than planfulness is certainly not just a minor technicality. Here's a short article about the relevance across disciplines.
Nice overview article. As you can tell my impressions were set from the relatively early stages of LC at least as a movement over the last 10 years. There always will be smart folks operating in any niche and I did run into Alberto de Campo back then, but unfortunately I didn't have much opportunity for deeper conversations at the time.
Thanks for the discussion and I'll definitely try and update my thinking towards LC as certainly things have progressed a bit over the last 10 years. I'm all for folks working on specialized clients / language environments which increase the expressiveness of LC in dealing with more complex abstractions and perhaps where applicable less piecing together of fairly standard control structures. I think that is the big tester for LC from a tech / performance environment perspective. The data sets one may operate over may have to be planned in advance, but use LC to dynamically choose immediate results, etc.
Ah a bit anecdotal, but puts some things in perspective:
I started with SuperCollider 2 and when 3 hit it was a liberating experience as it freed me up to deal with the synthesis server directly and immediately the day or two after I fired up SC3 I jettisoned usage of sclang and started on my own client which turned into quite a bit more. It is still in active development every moment I can get in on it though for a long time it's been much broader than just an SC client.
A lot of the compositional abstractions that interest me aren't really possible to realistically control in performance with live coding and certainly are tremendously aided by visualization especially during performance. I suppose my approach is a combination of planfulness which exposes a refined interface that makes liveness possible sans the need for LC while maintaining plenty of improvisational opportunities. One could always combine this route with LC though where applicable. Mostly the stuff that requires planfulness has to do with large scale 2D / 3D spatialization, but also real time synthesis for game audio / 3D engines is a completely different area of my R&D.
I have a studio which features a 32 speaker hemisphere of speakers (talk about a crazy hacker den). As things go though it's been an outright struggle maintaining things over the last 5 years and this has pulled me away from almost all computer music oriented audio R&D let alone performance / composition which is terribly frustrating because it took me years to build and self-fund the studio and now that I have access to what I need; well, you get the idea... It doesn't help that I've also been doing all of this in more or less isolation for the most part especially last 5 years. That is good and bad and is definitely not the recommended course to take for most, but I had an idea of what I was getting into from the get go. The final results will be unique, but a challenge on many levels to get there. I had to disengage from the local scene / stop promoting as part of financially covering obligations of keeping the studio operational. It looks like I'll lose 2014 to this route as well, but I may finally have a major product breakthrough (next gen Android video engine) that could finally relax the financial burden; after 10+ years of bootstrapping... ::oomph::
So, yeah.. Hopefully in the coming years I can get back to more audio R&D and back on the live performance horse so to speak and perhaps even drop into / by the algorave scene.. :)
'Algorave' Is the Future of Dance Music (if You're a True Scotsman)
Because that's a stronger claim -- that it is the future of Dance music for everyone.
> why does it have to be "if you're a Nerd".
Because with that qualification, its a weaker claim -- for the rest of the universe, it may not be the future of dance music.
Or maybe they mean, what nerds think the future of dance music is.
Yes, it is.
> Either it's the future of dance music, or it's not.
This statement excludes many possibilities.
> The future of dance music is the same for everyone.
This is not necessarily true. Different subcultures can, and often do, have different dance music. Its quite possible for the "future of dance music" to be different for different subcultures.
EDIT: Though, there are multiple different plausible interpretations of "This is the future of dance music (if you're a nerd)", and I've been focussing on the interpretation that could be rephrased as "This is the future of dance music for nerds".
Other possibilities include "This is what nerds see as the future of dance music" and the distinct-but-closely-related "If you believe that this is the future of dance music, you must be a nerd".
In those other cases, its not a weaker claim but a completely different claim than the plan "This is the future of dance music" claim.
Nope. Dance music has what we call "genres" (and target groups).
Nothing will be the future of ALL dance music, except if all people decide to adopt one dance genre.
By claiming "if you're a nerd", they're creating a class distinction where one group can and does ascertain truth, while the "others" cannot and will not.
So not only is it the future of dance music, but you'll only know if your privilege and knowledge can allow you to. A modern day hermetics of sorts.
But you know, thats just, my opinion man...
To listen to and to create algorave you need to be an absolute hopeless nerd.
That much is implied by the title and it is true.
They are just creating electronic music using a horrible user interface. And its not cool.
Is it more fun to listen to than listening to a group of solid amateur performers?
Moreover are amateur performers converting to the algo scene in droves?
If one of the above answers is no, then my point stands and will keep standing indefinetly. As it stands I would, hands down, prefer listening to Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber over algorave.
Because, as mentioned upthread, it's not really good enough to stand alone as dance music. It's only worth listening to if you're interested in the generative aspect.
This is a fun play on the words of the 1994 Criminal Justice Act, which criminalized the huge underground rave scene in the UK. (It's 'repetitive beats' in the text of the Act).
Knowing that wouldn't really have changed the article much, but it's not as po-faced a definition as the author might have thought.
That's two players side by side: Andrew Sorensen, and Ben Swift. It is a thoroughly entertaining 20 minute set. Plus reading how they are modifying the code is really neat. I only have a passing familiarity with scheme so I only get the gist of what's happening.
That said it was REALLY enjoyable for me as part of my dissertation at uni was about generative music and live coding, it was really cool to see it properly in action with a crowd of people enjoying it.
Anyways, interesting and fun, not new but so what; new for some people is still good.
I wonder how the author of the article missed that, heh.
Anyway, obviously, this live-coding is not "The Future" any more than anything else is, nor is it 100% new; There have been experiments since the beginning of computer music trying to make live compositions---
NEVERTHELESS, I think this article is great because it documents and celebrates how much technology we've leveraged w/r/t to music. We can now analyze and compose with great effect and detail. I mean, there are over 160 APIs for music on the web alone now:
Now that understanding of parsing and programming and algorithms is growing, we should expect to see our knowledge reflected in the field of music! Yay!
I'm not a huge fan of the "algorave" moniker but I can attest to the experience of the author at such events. It's pretty tepid. There's not much to dance to. The "future" it is not but perhaps an alternate history or sub-culture it perhaps is (or once was... not sure if coverage in Vice lets you keep that status).
That being said I love it. :)
Article title currently is:
'Algorave' Is the Future of Dance Music (if You're a Nerd)
So html coders are nerds?
Based on the screenshots, they seem to doing this in Haskell, which is a far cry from HTML. I guess the article authors have no idea about what programming actually consists of, so used "HTML" to mean any kind of code.