Programming Custom Performance Tools

Welcome to the webpage for chapter 8 of my book “Performing Electronic Music Live”, which is about programming custom performance tools. You can watch the three accompanying tutorial videos for this chapter here.

In the first video, Dr Jon Francombe and Professor Stephen Davismoon break down BBC R&D Audio Orchestrator, a tool that lets you turn your laptop, phone and tablet into a surround sound system. In the second video, experimental sound artist Fracesc Moya builds a generative music performance GUI from scratch in Max. The third video is an introduction to live coding in SuperCollider, presented by Eli Fieldsteel, assistant Professor at the University of Illinois, who hosts his own YouTube channel dedicated to SuperCollider.

Download Francesc’s Max patch here.

Download Eli’s SuperCollider code here.

About the chapter:

Software programming skills can give performers more control over their sound, stage presence, artist image and creative process. This chapter begins with a general introduction to programming and introduces key programming environments relevant for musicians, such as C++ within JUCE. After a series of general, inspiring artist examples, the chapter focuses on node-based programming languages, including  Max and Pure Data, and live coding environments, such as SuperCollider.

When we trade commercial tools for the blank canvas of programming environments, we are no longer biased by the look and feel of popular tools. Instead, we have to critically think about who we are as performers and focus on the essentials. Whether we want to create a sonic result more quickly, present effects parameters in a novel way, make our signal flow more robust or let algorithms inspire us, there are enough reasons to leave our comfort zone.