Live Coding & Live Algorithms
Leuphana University, Institute for Culture and Aesthetics of Digital Media, Lüneburg, DE
This course is a hands-on introduction to live coding, a relatively recent development in live electronic music that takes the classic performer-laptop DJ paradigm of the late 90’s to its natural conclusion. In live coding practice musicians program algorithmic processes on stage as a performative act, reflecting upon the relationship between an artist and their instruments, and even possibly providing a staging platform for the most “intimate portrait of human and machine” [Collins, 2011].
Besides addressing core philosophies and techniques related to the act of live coding, this course serves as an oblique entry point into a broader range of topics such as digital sound synthesis, algorithmic/generative art and questions of liveness in computer mediated performance.
The course concludes with an excursion to Amsterdam, where students attend a full-day workshop program at STEIM and attend Sonic Acts festival.
The goal of this course is for students to become intimately acquainted with the practice of live coding and algorithmically generated music and sound. The primary tool we will be using is SuperCollider, a software synthesizer characterized by its extremely sophisticated and powerful dynamic programming language, resembling a mix of Smalltalk with a C-like syntax.
An objective for the course will be for students to gain an intermediate mastery of this language and become comfortable enough in their knowledge to be able to improvise their own live coding performances and compose generative pieces of music.
Furthermore, this course is an opportunity for students to develop their skills as what Alex McLean calls “artist-programmers”, or “end-user programmers”, programmers who create software not for others to use as tools, but as a means to realize their own work.