Events rhino

I just had a total blast at Sonic Pattern and the Textility of Code. I wrote a little bit about it over on Weaving Codes.

It seems people still aren’t getting tired of the word ‘algorave’, now looking forward to

  • xCoAx 2015, in Glasgow. The third edition of this conference which really plugged a gap in my world.. I went to the first edition in Bergamo which was excellent, the very well conceived call for participation drew a wide range of thinkers and makers together. I couldn’t make the second one but am happy to be presenting a paper about live coding collaboration, and performing at the algorave with some greats.
  • Then much of the live coding field descending on Yorkshire for an Algorave in Sheffield and a three day conference in Leeds that I have the pleasure of organising as part of an excellent team.
  • Then thankfully things slow down for the summer, but looking forward to spending some time in Vancouver and playing the ISEA Algorave there together with fine algorave veterans both human and computational.
  • Then to Tilburg with Yee-King for the huge Incubate festival, which includes a little Algorave. It’ll be good to see Leafcutter do his first ‘official’ algorave, although he’s been bringing algorithms to actual raves for quite some time. Stalwarts Sam and Norah will also be there. It’ll be techno.

I’ve also got a load of collaborative alternative hackathons planned, including one at the ODI summit, as well as a public lecture to be announced very soon..

Beat perception

I’m collaborating with Alex Keegan on audio/visual performances drawing from research into beat perception. We’re starting by deliberately breaking the following rules in turn:

1. Any rhythm that follows a pulse formed of regular (isochronous) rhythms will itself, be regular.
2. Any section that has a regular pulse will progress to a following section which also has a regular pulse.
3. The progression of certain characteristic sections will follow each other in sequence, For example a ‘drop’ will always follow from a ‘build-up’.

The idea is to push against the edges of the perception of rhythm and meter, touching into the hallowed ground of frustration and annoyance, using two drum machines and four projectors controlled by Tidal..

Our first performance is tonight at this event at Theatre Deli in Sheffield, we’ll on be in the basement twice, around 9:40 and 11:40. There’ll also be some proper music upstairs, footwork and grime. Then we’ll try it again next week at Access Space, also in Sheffield, as part of the Sonic Pattern night programme.

2nd Workshop on Philosophy of Human+Computer Music

Happy to have the following abstract accepted for the 2nd Workshop on Philosophy of Human+Computer Music, in the University of Sheffield.

Textility of live code
Alex McLean
ICSRiM, School of Music, University of Leeds

Live coding is a practice involving live manipulation of computation via a notation (see e.g. Collins et al, 2003). While the notation is written and edited by a human, it is is continually interpreted by a computer, connecting an abstract practice with live experience. Furthermore, live coding notations are higher order, where symbols do not necessarily represent single events (e.g. notes), but compose together as formal linguistic structures which generate many events. These two elements make live code quite different from the traditional musical score; a piece is not represented within the notation, but in changes to it. Rather than a source of music, the notation becomes a live material, as one component in a feedback loop of musical activity.

There are many ways to approach live coding, but for the present discussion I take the case study of an Algorave-style performance (Collins and McLean, 2014), for its keen focus on movements of the body contrasted with abstract code and the fixed stare of the live coding performer. In this, the live coder must enter a hyper-aware state, in creative flow (Csikszentmihalyi, 2008). They must listen; acutely aware of the passing of time, the structure as it unfolds, literally counting down to the next point at which change is anticipated and (potentially) fulfilled via a code edit. In the dance music context this point is well defined, all in the room aware of its approach. The coder must also be aware of physical energy, the ‘shape’ of the performance (Greasley and Prior, 2013). All this is on top of the cognitive demands of the programming language, manipulating the code while maintaining syntactical correctness.

The philosophical question that this raises is how (in the spirit of Small, 1998), does this musical activity model, allow us to reflect upon and perhaps reimagine, the human relationship with technology in society? Can we include wider perspectives, by drawing upon neolithic approaches to technology such as the warp weighted loom, in this view (Cocker, 2014)?

References

* Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2008). Flow: the psychology of optimal  experience. HarperCollins.
* Cocker, E. (2014, January). Live notation – reflections on a   kairotic practice. Performance Research Journal 18 (5).
* Collins, N. and A. McLean (2014). Algorave: A survey of the history,   aesthetics and technology of live performance of algorithmic  electronic dance music. In Proceedings of the International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression.
* Collins, N., A. McLean, J. Rohrhuber, and A. Ward (2003). Live coding in laptop performance. Organised Sound 8 (03), 321-330.
* Greasley AE; Prior HM (2013) “Mixtapes and turntablism: DJs’ perspectives on musical shape”, Empirical Musicology Review. 8.1: 23-43.
* Small, C. (1998, June). Musicking: The Meanings of Performing and Listening (Music Culture) (First ed.). Wesleyan.

Peak cut postcards

Nice to see some photos + videos of peak cut in action crop up from around the world:

#computerclub This Ep is releaaed on microSD. Yaxu – Peak Cut

A photo posted by Christopher Çolak (@chriak) on

Peak Cut on Bleep

bleepKind words on bleep, who have some of the remaining physical copies of Peak Cut:

“Restricted to just 100 copies, Yaxu’s debut EP comes from Computer Club on a very special USB credit card containing the 6 tracks as well as a collection of over 100 algorithmic Tidal patterns to reshape and enjoy as you wish. As well as challenging the conventional formats for releasing music, Yaxu’s polyrhythmic and hyperreal strand of techno is showcased on cuts like Public Life and Cyclic showing that he is not just testing the confines of how music can be consumed but also how genres can sound. A truly forward thinking influx of material from Yaxu and the Computer Club team.”

https://bleep.com/release/59626-yaxu-peak-cut

Activities

Just to reflect, I’m currently:

  • Finishing a project on Optical Music Recognition
  • Co-editing and writing chapters for the Oxford Handbook on Algorithmic Music, with another book on the horizon
  • Co-editing two journal special issues
  • Co-organising a symposium, international conference + algorave, and many more events on the horizon, as well as upcoming performances, talks and other events
  • Co-leading two research council funded projects
  • Learning to weave, making a language for it, developing designs for a warp weighted loom, and working towards an installation and performance in Munich in May
  • Finishing a range of chapters, journal articles and papers
  • Peer reviewing a lot of things
  • Preparing for a big series of Tidal workshops and an evening course
  • Developing a series of alternative hackathons and residencies over the Summer
  • Giving lectures and supervising student projects
  • Trying to find time to write project proposals/grant applications to try to extend my fixed term postdoc and increasingly part-time contract doing all the above (erp!)
  • Finishing tracks for my next EP, and associated software and linux distro
  • Being a Dad/Husband
  • Other things currently not on the forefront of my mind

So no time to blog, really…