Live Coding and Locative Sound Projects

The Musical Score: The System and the Interpreter by Thor Magnusson/ Creating Fixed Media Works out of Site-Specific Compositions through the Use of Spatial Responses and Physical Resonances by Marinos Koutsomichalis/ NUZUH: A corruption of folk music by Peter Zinovieff/ Participatory art as inner city workshop: The Urban Remix sound project by Michael Nitsche, Carl DiSalvo, and Jason Freeman
Friday, 16 September, 2011 - 17:00 - 18:20
Chair Person: 
Basak Dilara Ozdemir
Thor Magnusson
Marinos Koutsomichalis
Peter Zinovieff
Michael Nitsche
Carl DiSalvo
Jason Freeman

The Musical Score: The System and the Interpreter

by Thor Magnusson

This paper introduces live coding as a new path in the evolution of the musical score. Live coding practice accentuates the score, and whilst being the perfect vehicle for the performance of algorithmic music, it also transforms the compositional process itself into a live event. A continuation of 20th century artistic developments of the musical score, live coding systems often embrace graphical elements and language syntaxes foreign to standard programming languages. The paper presents live coding as a highly technologized artistic practice, shedding light on how non-linearity, play and generativity will become prominent in future creative media productions.

A careful investigation into the history of the score will illustrate that the score is not a simple object whose nature can be easily defined. It has had multiple functions in the various traditions at different time periods. But the score is more than encoded music. It is also a compositional tool, where composers are able to externalize their thoughts onto a medium that visually represents the sonic data. The score in its various forms is a mnemonic device that enables more complex compositional thinking patterns than those we find in purely oral traditions. This paper will consider live coding as a new evolution of the musical score. It will investigate the background of diverse scoring practices as applied in live coding, where the score is written in the form of an algorithm, either graphically or textually, yet always encoded in the functionality of a programming language.

Creating Fixed Media Works out of Site-Specific Compositions through the Use of Spatial Responses and Physical Resonances

by Marinos Koutsomichalis

Site-specific compositions exist solely within a very specific time-space. It is totally inconsistent with the idea of site-specific art in the first place to try to remove or detach such a work out of its accommodating space. On the other hand, fixed media music - at least in theory - is composed in such a way it will sound nice in a variety of different listening set-ups. It is made to be portable in the first place. Would it, however, be possible - and in what way - to commence from a site-specific composition and somehow end with a fixed medium work that would still make sense outside the original context ?

The author answers yes. The composer has to confront his own work as if a found soundscape to be actively interpreted. Using carefully selected equipment and advanced phonographic techniques and by recording the way actual space responds and resonates, he has some control on very crucial qualities of sound. Then, it is perfectly valid to select those recordings that sound interesting, rearrange them and end up with a meaningful fixed media work that would make sense outside of the original context.

This might sound totally inconsistent with the idea of site-specificity in the first place, but the author does not claim that this way the original work is ‘captured’ on some medium or anything like that. What one comes up with is another work - a brand new one - that has to be confronted on its own terms. The two works remain explicitly but not implicitly associated. The site-specificity of the original work is definitely ‘documented’ in a sense (the one derives from the other after all) so the link is never lost, but we still retain all the potential to create a stand-alone piece of music by creatively working on our original material and to deliver a totally different work in terms of scope and aesthetic impact.

In this paper the author describes his practice in detail referring to actual projects he has already undertaken in the past.

NUZUH: A corruption of folk music

by Peter Zinovieff

A description of the processes and techniques used in a computer composition played in Istanbul 2010.  This manipulatrd Turkish folk songs recorded by Bela Bartok into a 54-channel ambiosonic sound sculpture, The Morning Line, in Eminönü Square from May to September 2010.

Participatory art as inner city workshop: The Urban Remix sound project

by Michael Nitsche, Carl DiSalvo, and Jason Freeman

UrbanRemix is a collaborative and locative sound project to reinvigorate inner city communities through their participation in a public art event. It grows from within these communities and their specific surroundings. UrbanRemix enables participants to explore, develop and express the acoustic identity of communities, based on sounds they discover, record and remix in their neighborhood.
The project consists of mobile and web-based software applications that allow users to document the obvious, neglected, private or public, even secret sounds of the urban environment. The collected sounds, voices and noises provide original tracks for musical remixes that reflect the community in a novel form.

All events are designed around existing communities. Each event typically begins with a period of sound and image collection during which citizens explore their neighborhood anew. After collection is complete, DJs prepare a public performance in the neighborhood, using only the contributed content in their remix. In parallel, the public is invited to explore and remix the content online, both during and after the event. Final sound mixes, from DJs and other participants, can be shared online.

UrbanRemix stands in the tradition of other pioneering locative sound projects such as Sonic City, Tactical Sound Garden Toolkit, or [murmur] but focuses on the participating citizen on every level from sound recording, to mixing, to shared listening. This emphasizes the role of participatory digital art practice as reinvigorating process in urban neighborhoods.

The paper reports on the design and implementation of the software and on the results of various artistic installations. This includes an overview over the web, Android, and iPhone applications. The discussion of artistic results includes performances in collaboration with Glide Memorial Church, an active community church in San Francisco, projects with public schools in Atlanta and with the Beltline project, a major inner city transportation development in Atlanta. They present examples for public participatory sound art and how its production as well as its results reframe existing urban spaces.