Live Coders and more "old-fashioned" Instruments

#1

Inspired by a post in another thread and my own history as a musician, I was wondering what the relationship between the live coders and more “old-fashioned” Instruments is. I know there’s many coders who play in bands or as solo instrumentalists as well, and some even do mixed sets.

Did you play an instrument before you became a live coder? Do you come from a technical background? Did you maybe even start playing an instrument later on, because live coding inspired you to make music?

If you played an Instrument before, how did that experience shape your coding ?

Personally, i played music in bands, projects, even orchestras (without being able to read sheet music … go figure) for more than a decade before coming into contact with live coding (even though i on some occasions did perform as a laptop musician before with PD or DAWs).

Some of the key motivations to go into computer music were probably born out of frustration with bands. Your computer doesn’t go AWOL for band practice, and your programs don’t threaten to punch each other. So while I recently figured out that collaborating with other coders can be fun, the fact that I can do it on my own was one of the key selling points.

I’d say it shaped my general sense for musical dynamics. I alos learned that making music for me is much more about dynamics and/or rhythm as opposed to, say, harmonic progressions.

Nowadays i miss playing the drums, but not enough to get a new drumkit (yet).

How about you?

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#2

Interesting topic!

I’m a traditionally very analog instrumentalist: woodwind/guitar/keys/bass guitar (bass being my primary focus for the last ~decade).
I got into live coding incidentally through musical networks on twitter, and as a tertiary qualified programmer it immediately appealed to me as an instrument that I perhaps didn’t need to struggle through the journey with as much as I find I do with an analog instrument.

At this juncture in my life, time is short so I’m really only scratching the surface right now but this (and interfacing computer hardware and software in general) is really tickling my musical senses.

I’ve got a project band I’m trying to get off the ground that we just lost the drummer for, so it seems like a good opportunity to insert tidal cycles as the percussion section. I really like the idea of being able to use it in a mixed setting, ala Adam Neely/Sungazer type setup (not necessarily style/genre) so hopefully I can get my chops up enough to make it work :slightly_smiling_face:

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#3

I also played instruments before getting into live coding (which I still consider myself as ‘getting into’). I’ve had lessons in piano, guitar and (thankfully briefly) the recorder. Live coding, for me, is an extension of my interest in generative music, and building upon the experiments I’ve enjoyed making within Max/MSP and Pure Data. It also serves as a fun way to learn some coding principles that will also carry across into audio implementation coding for games.

I’m still early on in my live coding journey, but I am already realising that my musical background is going to force me to learn certain coding methodologies more quickly than others, as I have musical ideas that I want to implement, and have to work out how to achieve them in code. This is perhaps an advantage over being guided by the coding environment too much, and just doing (musically) what comes most naturally from the functions and syntax I learn as I get more comfortable with coding. Time will tell.

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#4

I played cello before getting involved into electronic music, so I have a “technical” background, but I don’t use it so much. Now I’m playing bass, but I really want to combine live coding with traditional/“old-fashioned” instruments. I’m thinking of 65daysofstatic, a post-rock band that uses Tidal Cycles to compose.

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#5

Hmm while it’s tempting I’ve always backed away from that idea. I’ve played around with extensive combinations of instruments, loopers and effects pedals, but my impression always was that the more you have to divide your attention, the more limited you are in your opportunities to explore. To the point that nowadays even looking at people like Binkbeats stresses me out a bit …

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#6

I was working on a livecoding “language” that was going to be input via pitch recognition of tuba playing, but I got extremely distracted. Obviously the reliability of this would be extremely low. The language commands were loosely based on Solresol.

I should really pick this back up some time. https://github.com/celesteh/Domifare

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#7

Well I’d say you have to practice a lot until you can actually play with it and not just struggle with the system …

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#8

The additional problem is reliability of pitch detection, especially of low notes on the tuba.

I went through a phase of working on virtuosic/unplayable systems and this was a part of that. There was a brief trend of systems designed to encourage error.

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#9

Reminds me of this :smiley:

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