Recent livecoding in SuperCollider

Over the winter break I’ve been spending some time working on my livecoding/algorave setup in SuperCollider. Here’s a quick practice run, this is how things are going at the moment.

The most recent idea here is the \warp synth, a granulator slowly reading through a choice of soundfiles. In this particular run, I think the .choose threw up a fragment of a Stokowski Bach transcription and perhaps a bit of the theme tune from The IT Crowd as well. A nice background wash of sound behind the rhythmic stuff. For the latter, the samples in the first half of the video are various from here and in the second half of the run, after I exectue ~changesamples, from here and here

The synths I’m using and my initialisation file is up on GitHub at

Layering visuals with SuperCollider

When I was at emfcamp last week, I saw a couple of instances of people layering up visuals with their code. Claudius Maximus had that going with his clive system, SonicPi (and Gibber??) can do it out of the box, and Shelly Knotts  had some sort of setup for (I think?) doing it completely within SuperCollider, with the cool idea of a webcam pointing down at her hands on the keyboard.

After a bit of thought, I’ve come up with this, just a still for now:


How this works: I used a $10 utility called ScreenCaptureSyphon that can amongst other things grab an application window and send it into Syphon. Then, Resolume Arena runs as a Syphon client, which lets me do almost anything including, as in the shot below, pull in the webcam and colorize. Not tried it yet, but Arena exposes its interface to OSC, so should in theory be possible to script visual changes from the SuperCollider IDE.

A reasonably concinnitous hack, if I say so myself. (MInd you, it’s the first thing I’ve ever done with my MacBook Air that turns the fan on full blast the whole time!)

Getting my fingers burned

Sooner or later, I’m going to have to get back to the ‘ol soldering iron:



I have a plan: to reconstruct the PE Minisonic you can see above, that I made while I was in school. I still have some of the boards…

Here’s my screen

Show us your screens! Ok, well at last maybe I’m ready. Here’s five minutes or so of me improvising in SuperCollider that’s not as embarrassing as some of my other attempts:

The code is on GitHub if anyone is madly interested.

Recording from ‘Night of the Earthmen’

Not be much to listen to, maybe, but feels an important moment for me: a new direction after finishing the PhD, satisfyingly far away from score-based contemporary ‘classical’ nonpop, or whatever you call all that stuff. Next up: more of this kind of thing, plus more gamelan. Happy days.

Night of the Earth Men

I’m doing, um, I guess my first ever solo electro-junk improv gig on Friday 5 December. Ulp. Here’s the poster… I’m almost embarrased to say:

Let’s see, the plan includes… a Pd patch running on the netbook, probably SuperCollider running on the (new secondhand) MacBook Pro. The Novation BassStation and the Hammond AutoVari 64, a mixing desk, and a pocket trumpet with a piezo mic inside a harmon mute. That’s what I’ve been experimenting with so far, anyway…

Working on a postlude to ‘Spiricom’

I’ve been working on a piece for this year’s Plug festival at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, which will be in May sometime. The theme this time round is ‘postludes’. Head of Composition Gordon McPherson has invited all the composers here, including staff like myself, to compose something which draws on, or reflects, or comments upon in some way, a piece from a previous Plug festival.

I’ve found myself drawn immediately to one of Gordon’s own pieces from 2007, ‘Spiricom’, part of a trilogy of pieces called ‘Ghosts’ which deal in various ways with death and a possible afterlife. ‘Spiricom’ refers to… we’ll, you can google it, a strange and mad episode in the history of pseudoscience, a couple of cranks who convinced themselves they had built a machine which would talk to dead people.

My postlude will be for solo clarinet and acoustic laptop: by which I mean a laptop operating entirely by itself, using just the internal mics and speakers. I’ve written a patch in Pd which will (quietly) transform long notes played by the clarinet, these long notes being a (very) approximate by-ear transcription of certain passages within Gordon’s original piece. I have Fraser Langton lined up to play the clarinet, and we’ve had a wee try out with the patch: sounds ok.

A frustrating, ugly, boring piece to listen to, I imagine. But it will only be short :)