Live Coding and Algorave
What is your perception of programming? Is it problem solving and automation? Or is it something we use to build products and services? Perhaps it is something that helps people to express their creativity? The answer is all of the above and that’s exactly how we use code in our everyday life.
However, do you think software development and programming has limits? It’s a very profound and interesting question for our society but many people, including me think that it does not have limits same way human imagination does not have limits. This is exactly where Live Coding becomes very important topic in software engineering and programming in general. So what exactly is Live Coding and how is it used?
Live Coding is a technique and a form of art that is used to create sound and visual based digital media, dance and poetry. It is called “Live Coding” because artists write source code and algorithms on the spot and they improvise it in front of the audience. One of the most popular form of live coding is making music or as it is known, “Algorave”.
In 2011, Alex McLean has put two words Algorithms and rave together and created the term Algorave. It was influenced and inspired by contemporary art and development in computer science. Algorave is a movement and underground electronic music event series that take place in 18 different countries and its community is growing everyday. It is a way to experience something as abstract as code with your mind, body, and feet. Often times there is a projection showing how artist is adding or modifying code that makes music. Much of the time software will use key words to play music, like any other programming language and usually there are different kinds of libraries and frameworks used to do so. Music often employs repetitive patterns, loops, if statements, logical branching and algorithmic-like methods just like in any web application code.
However, what really differentiates Live Coding and specifically Algorave from any other programming practices is that it is never permanent. The point is not to create a perfect single product but to share every key press on the spot. Therefore, many artists delete any code they write while performing. In my opinion, that is the reason why live coding is never problem solving process. As Alex McLean says “in software engineering we have a problem which is a process and by applying code we engage into problem solving process. On the other hand, Live coders are much more interested in causing problems rather solving them.” In a way in algorithmic music you are coming up with a tool to make a function. However, more importantly you can change those tools fundamentally which means to have the range of unlimited possibilities.
Finally, it is true that with programming skills we have no boundaries or limits as to how far we can take our imagination. A Code can be source of automation as well as source of art.
Thanks to brilliant community of developers, just as any programming practices, Live Coding gives us opportunity to easily get started and learn. There are many open source softwares, libraries and frameworks that are available for free such as TidalCycles, SuperCollider, Gibber, Fluxus, ChucK and PureData.
What on earth is live coding?
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