Musical Live Coding
Workshop Leader: Thor Magnusson, T.Magnusson [at] brighton.ac.uk
Live coding has become a popular form of performance for audiovisual work in contemporary club and festival culture . In live coding, performers code music or visuals live, whilst projecting their desktop onto a large screen for the audience to follow the proceedings. Various interesting issues are pertinent here, such as the expressivity of the language, musical abstractions, and audience comprehension. Also of interest is the value of this as a performance practice where composition is typically done through an intense improvisation, putting embodiment (and the lack thereof) and/or the skilled practiced body into focus.
This workshop on musical live coding will introduce the diverse live coding systems and show audiovisual material of live coding performances by others. Systems that will be covered are SuperCollider, ixi lang, Impromptu, and LuaAV; with references and introductions to Pure Data, ChucK, Fluxus, and other contemporary and/or historical systems.
After an introduction of live coding, the workshop will introduce sound synthesis in SuperCollider which will serve as a good introduction for a more serious study of this cutting-edge audio programming language. SuperCollider will be contextualized with reference to the other abovementioned systems and small exercises will be conducted with the participants. Finally, ixi lang will be introduced. ixi lang is a live coding language written in SuperCollider aiming at quick and easy musical performance. This workshop will get users up and running in making music in the ixi lang, whose whole vocabulary can be learned in under an hour. At the end of the workshop, participants will be able to jam together through a networked tempo clock, share code, music and ideas in a creative and fun way.
The workshop will suit anyone with an interest in computer music or live coding practises. There are no skills required, but unfortunately the ixi lang is working only on Mac OS X at the moment, although SuperCollider and most of the other systems covered are cross platform.
Examples of ixi lang in performance can be viewed here:
And information on SuperCollider can be found here:
 To engage with this interest, a forthcoming issue of Computer Music Journal is including a DVD on live coding systems, and the International Computer Music Conference (ICMC) this year introduces submission categories for live coding, both in the paper and performance tracks.
Bio of the Presenter
Thor Magnusson is a musician/writer/programmer working in the fields of music and generative art. His PhD from the University of Sussex focused on computer music interfaces from the perspective of philosophy of technology, phenomenology and cognitive science. He is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Art and Media at the University of Brighton but also teaches courses on computer music, algorithmic and interactive systems in the Creative Systems MSc course at the University of Sussex and the Sonic Arts course of Middlesex University. Thor is mainly interested in improvisation, live performances, installations and audio software production. He is a co-founder and member of the ixi audio collective. With ixi he has written various musical software and given workshops and talks in key institutions across Europe on the design and creation of digital musical instruments and sound installations.
For further info on ixi, please visit: www.ixi-audio.net
Thor has presented and performed in various festivals and conferences, such as Sonar festival, Transmediale, ISEA (International Symposium for Electronic Arts), Ertz festival, ICMC (International Computer Music Conference), NIME Conference (New Interfaces for Musical Expression), Impact Festival, Soundwaves festival, Cybersonic festival, Ultrasound festival, RE:New, and Pixelache.