The Longest Night

I’ve been teaching some of the composition students at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland how to livecode in Estuary, and we’re going to do a short set as part of The Longest Night. Here’s the test I just did for that, which sort of counts as another one of my tiny estuary jams – not a very interesting one!

Tiny Estuary Jams

I seem to have started doing that thing where I post a small piece of work each day: so far, four very short jam sessions in Estuary:

Gamelan sounds in GarageBand on iPad

This posting shows how I was able to get the sounds of the pelog half of the Spirit of Hope gamelan here in Glasgow to work in GarageBand on an iPad.

First install an app called ‘SoundFonts’ from the App Store: it’s £4.99.

Go to this link, and download the file called SoH Gamelan balungan pelog.sf2

The file should end up saved in the Downloads folder in iCloud Drive.

Open the SoundFonts app and click the + button.

This took me straight to the correct file in iCloud Drive: you might have to browse to find it though. Select the file to import it to the SoundFonts app.

Once you select the sound called ‘balungan_pelog’ you should be able to play it. You might need to change octave to get all of the sounds, there should be slenthem, demung, saron and peking.

Repeat the process above to download the other soundfont, that includes gongs, kenongs, kethuk and drums. Here is the link

To use the sounds in GarageBand, you need to find – I don’t know what it is called, this track browser thing! – and select the ‘External’ pane.

Select the SoundFonts icon

And you can now play and record tracks using the gamelan samples in GarageBand!

Looking back over the year

The tempation to ‘share’ on proprietary online platforms means that I don’t document my work here as frequently as I should! So, here’s a roundup of some things I’ve produced this year: as much a reminder to myself as anything else.

Gamelan samples

This is just a quick post to pull together links to a number of places online where I have offered up gamelan sounds for download. It’s all a bit chaotic! Most of these are from the pelog Spirit of Hope instruments in Glasgow, sometimes retuned. Some of them may be from other sources that I’ve forgotten about.

From my perspective, these are all inteneded to be CC0 ‘No rights reserved’ – you can do what you like with them!

If I’ve accidentally uploaded someone else’s sample here and you want me to take it down, please let me know.

Sound from SuperCollider to OBS on macOS

The principle here is that sound is sent from SuperCollider to the virtual audio driver BlackHole, and from BlackHole to OBS. You then listen to the sound through OBS.



Set the mac sound output to ‘BlackHole 16ch’ using the widget in the menu bar:

Boot or reboot the server in SuperCollider – this is a key step, the SC server will not pick up a change of audio device without a fresh boot or a reboot:

After boot, check that the SC post window says ‘”BlackHole 16ch” Output Device’:

(If you’re using Tidal you’ll need to run SuperDirt.start here again.)

In OBS, click on ‘Settings’ and go to the ‘Audio’ pane. Set ‘Mic/Auxillary Audio’ to ‘BlackHole 16ch’ and ‘Monitoring Device’ to ‘Built-in Output’:


In OBS, look for a gear icon for settings in the Audio Mixer panel select ‘Advanced Audio Properties’:


Under Audio Monitoring select ‘Monitor and Output’:


Play a sound in SuperCollider. In OBS, turn up the slider in the Audio Mixer Panel, and you should see the Mic/Aux slider picking up sound:

Sound should now be playing from SC into OBS and through into your speakers/headphones. Adjust volume as usual from the widget in the menu bar.

Update: it seems that on macOS 10.15 you may need to go back to the volume widget in the menu bar and select the output you want to hear there. (I can’t test this directly, I’m still on 10.13).

Subsonic workshop and algorave

Claire Quigley and Miriam Iorweth are curating a ‘Subsonic’ workshop and algorave at the Scottish Submarine Centre on Friday 20 March as part of the Euleroom Equinox 2020 livecoding event.

There is an introductory workshop 1930 to 2030, followed by an algorave 2030 to 1030. The workshop is free, the algorave is pay what you want.

If you’d like to take part in the workshop or are interested in performing at the algorave, contact Miriam:


Subsonic Algorave 2020.pdf
Subsonic Algorave Workshop.pdf


That syncing feeling

In order to be able to work up sketches for ‘Perang Gagal’ at ICLC in Limerick, I wanted to use Logic to compose demos of the material for the live players that I could then improvise with in SuperCollider. This poses the problem of how to sync the pulse and tempo between the two programmes, which proved annoyingly difficult to accomplish!

Ideally, I would have liked to set the tempo in SuperCollider for Logic to follow. A straightforward way to do this would have been for SC to send MIDI clock and have Logic follow but, annoyingly, Logic does not support slaving to MIDI clock.

According to the Logic help, it should be possible to sync to an audio click from Logic. I couldn’t get this to work, and nobody on the Logic Users Group seemed to be able to help either.

The eventual solution was less than perfect. I used Logic to send MIDI clock, and had SuperCollider slave to that. This involved using the MIDISyncClock extension from H. James Harkins ddwMIDI quark. Not perfect, but got the job done.

What did work very well indeed was the recently released Blackhole tool for passing audio between mac applications. I’d definitely recommend this as a replacement for Soundflower!

Livecoding gamelan

The work that I will be taking to ICLC 2020 in Limerick is entitled ‘Perang Gagal: a Series of Inconclusive Battles’, and is a collaboration with Professor Mel Mercier at the Irish Word Academy of Music and Dance. I will performing livecode in SuperCollider as part of a small gamelan ensemble let by Mel. Here’s the demo video I submitted to the conference call:

I had thought that the eventual piece would be straightforward to devise, but it is proving trickier than I thought. There are couple of limitations. We won’t have access to a full gamelan for the conference. I had hoped to visit Limerick to work with the players in advance, but that has not proved possible: instead, I am going to send sketches of the material I am working on to Mel, and we will put the piece together during the conference.

The third limitation is around pulse. I want this piece to be rhythmic, but I do not feel confident about trying to get SuperCollider to follow the tempo and pulse of a live ensemble of gamelan musicians. Consequently, I am having to devise material where SuperCollider establishes some sort of groove that the live players will follow.

So far I have four potential sections for the piece. As ever, I am reworking existing materials. ‘fibblesticks’ and ‘Adrift & Afloat’ are ‘counting pieces’ that employ numerical frameworks to allow performers to play together in time, while leaving pitch inderminate: or rather, when working with the gamelan, projecting the entire complement of available notes, pelog in this case.

I have on a number of occasions performed a sort of quasi-Javenese gamelan texture in SuperCollider, using samples of the Spirit of Hope instruments here in Glasgow. For Limerick, I have reworked this by adding a balungan part for the live players.

The fourth section for the piece is new, and is based around a couple of musical ideas that occured to me in a dream and that were still in my head on awakening:

Many of my musical ideas originate in this way!

Livecoding brass

As 2019 draws to a close, I’m spending some time getting ready for the International Conference on Livecoding in February in Limerick. I put in two proposals. The first of these was to be called The ‘All-Pressure No-Method’ System, and would have involved me working with four live brass players. I say ‘would have’: this has had to be abandoned, we were not able to fund the travel and accomodation for the players.

The central idea, however, is one I’d like to return to. Inspired particularly by the work of Kate Sicchio in livecoding dancers, the intention was to livecode the brass players by means of a repertoire of typed and projected instructions. Here’s a demo video of the concept: