Algorave at Radiophrenia

This week I’m taking my algorave work in a new direction. In collaboration with Bill Whitmer, we are going to be presenting a half-hour show called ‘Radio Automata Live in the Studio‘ as part of Radiophrenia, a temporary art radio station broadcasting from the CCA in Glasgow.

The idea for the show is: if the last remaining creative decisions in broadcast radio were entirely automatic, would anyone notice? Bill has been experimenting with algorithmically generated text and chatbots for the spoken part of the show. For my part, I’m going to be creating cut-up mashups using the slicing techniques I’ve been developing in SuperCollider.

In previous work along these lines, I’ve always used source material that was either explicitly open source, or, at least, grey-area material that I was unlikely to be sued for, like old TV themes and midi module demo songs.

In this show, for the first time I’m taking a so-sue-me approach, using… well, I won’t give the game away, but some *very* well known material indeed, arising from ‘suggestions’ ‘made’ by the bots Bill has been working with. In early experiments this is sounding very interesting indeed. Watch this space, or rather, listen to this wavelength!

  • 23rd May 2019
  • 1100-1130
  • 87.9FM across Glasgow

Callout for Scottish algo-ravers 16-2-2019

I’m looking for music and/or visual artists working with live code who are interested in joining me for an improvised algorave as part of Sound Thought 2019.

‘Livecoding’ is a practice where creative artists who work with computer code perform live, often producing music and/or visuals, with the audience typically able to watch the evolution of the code on a projected screen. ‘Algorave’ is a subgenre where the aim is to produce beat-driven music and/or visuals for dancing.

Examples of the kind of software we’re talking about include:

Music:
Sonic Pi http://sonic-pi.net/
TidalCycles http://tidalcycles.org/
FoxDot http://foxdot.org/
SuperCollider https://supercollider.github.io/
Troop https://github.com/Qirky/Troop
Estuary http://intramuros.mcmaster.ca:8002/
Gibber http://gibber.cc/
ChucK http://chuck.cs.princeton.edu/
Pd https://puredata.info/
Overtone http://overtone.github.io/

Visuals:
Hydra https://github.com/ojack/hydra
LiveCodeLab https://livecodelab.net/
VEDA https://veda.gl/
PraxisLIVE https://www.praxislive.org/
Processing https://processing.org/
fluxus http://www.pawfal.org/fluxus/
The Force https://videodromm.com/The_Force/
LiveCoder http://livecoder.net/

More about algorave https://algorave.com/ and livecoding https://toplap.org/

Drop  me an email on js.vanderwalt@rcs.ac.uk if interested!

werk stadig

Here is the piece I contributed to the Sounding Nature project on Cities and Memory:

https://clyp.it/btdilbxd

It is a reworking of an audio file called ‘093 SOUTH AFRICA savannah polyrhythms’. As someone who spent part of their childhood in South Africa, the bird sounds in the source recording are very familiar to me: most particularly the distinctive monotonous call of Streptopelia capicola, the Ring-necked Dove, or, as I used to call it, the Cape Turtle Dove, the name given in the edition of Roberts’ Birds of Southern Africa that I owned at the time. In the current edition of Roberts the call is transliterated as ‘work harder’, but in the older volume it is given in Afrikaans as ‘werk stadig’ which, given the slightly harsher sound of that language, actually works rather better.

I always thought ‘werk stadig’ meant ‘work steadily’ but it seems a more accurate translation would be ‘work slowly’. Whichever way: for several years now I have been working steadily, or slowly, through a process of learning the SuperCollider programming language. This composition is to some extent a study in that language: yet another attempt to use livecoding approaches as a means to develop a fixed piece. New ideas in this work include FFT as a means of cleaning up the original recording, and the use of a Routine to script JITLib objects in time.

Interview at Sheffield Algorave

A short interview that Reverb Magazine did with me at the Sheffield Algorave 01/09/2018 – talking about combining livecoding, gamelan samples, and trumpet playing.

Raving the netbook again

Once again happily proving to myself how possible it is to work with open-source software on basic hardware. Just upgraded to Ubuntu Studio 18.04 on a refurb 11″ Dell Inspiron netbook, and built SuperCollider 3.9.3 from source. Here’s an algorave-ish test track made using this setup:

https://clyp.it/5d3lo4na

Some new code idioms:

Plazy({Pseq((0..15).scramble,4)}).repeat(inf)

is easier to type than

Pn(Plazy({Pseq((0..15).scramble,4)}))

and similarly

Pseq([2,6,4,7],inf).stutter(32)

instead of

Pstutter(32, Pseq([2,6,4,7],inf))

also

Pseq((0..15).scramble,inf).clump(3)

 

Livecoding Erraid

watching sunset from the observatory

On a number of occasions I have used sounds collected at a particular location as a coherent set of resources for a livecoded set. For the last week I’ve been in retreat on with the community on the isle of Erraid, which has been a welcome break from the city!

One of the features of the island is the ‘observatory’. This is a circular tin structure, about two meters across by three high: a restored remnant of the building of the Dubh Artach lighthouse that took place there between 1867 and 1872.

The sound world inside this unusual structure is distinctive. I took some recordings (available on freesound.org, or they will be once the finish uploading), that I am going to be using in a livecoded SuperCollider improvisation this Monday during one of the Sonic Nights series at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, where staff and students diffuse new electroacoustic works on a multi-channel sound system. If it seems practical, I may stream the performance as well.

Not algorave

I’m interested in now taking the SuperCollider livecoding techniques that I’ve developed in the context of algorave and applying them to the creation of fixed media sound works. Here is one, using some prepared piano samples that Dr Kurt James Werner has been kind enough to put online.

It’s not perfect: there is still a strong element of improvisation in this way of working, and there are places in this track where, on listening back, I might have wished to have performed differently. A compromise, perhaps, between the raw and the cooked.