Archive for April 24, 2012

Designing a language for programming with musical collaborators in front of an audience

If you were going to build a programming language explicitly for musicians to use when programming live with collaborators and in front of an audience, what would you build into it?  What should  musicians have to learn about computer science in order to use this language? There’s a special issue of Computer Music Journal coming out, focused on these themes. What a fascinating set of design constraints, and how different from most programming languages!

We are excited to announce a call for papers for a special issue of
Computer Music Journal, with a deadline of 21st January 2013, for
publication in Spring of the following year. The issue will be guest
edited by Alex McLean, Julian Rohrhuber and Nick Collins, and will
address themes surrounding live coding practice.

Live coding focuses on a computer musician’s relationship with their
computer. It includes programming a computer as an explicit onstage
act, as a musical prototyping tool with immediate feedback, and also
as a method of collaborative programming. Live coding’s tension
between immediacy and indirectness brings about a mediating role for
computer language within musical interaction. At the same time, it
implies the rewriting of algorithms, as descriptions which concern the
future; live coding may well be the missing link between composition
and improvisation. The proliferation of interpreted and just-in-time
compiled languages for music and the increasing computer literacy of
artists has made such programming interactions a new hotbed of musical
practice and theory. Many musicians have begun to design their own
particular representational extensions to existing general-purpose
languages, or even to design their own live coding languages from
scratch. They have also brought fresh energy to visual programming
language design, and new insights to interactive computation, pushing
at the boundaries through practice-based research. Live coding also
extends out beyond pure music and sound to the general digital arts,
including audiovisual systems, linked by shared abstractions.

2014 happens to be the ten-year anniversary of the live coding
organisation TOPLAP ( However, we do not wish to restrict
the remit of the issue to this, and we encourage submissions across a
sweep of emerging practices in computer music performance, creation,
and theory. Live coding research is more broadly about grounding
computation at the verge of human experience, so that work from
computer system design to exposition of live coding concert work is
equally eligible.

Topic suggestions include, but are not limited by:

– Programming as a new form of musical exploration
– Embodiment and linguistic abstraction
– Symbology in music interaction
– Uniting liveness and abstraction in live music
– Bricolage programming in music composition
– Human-Computer Interaction study of live coding
– The psychology of computer music programming
– Measuring live coding and metrics for live performance
– The live coding audience, or live coding without audience
– Visual programming environments for music
– Alternative models of computation in music
– Representing time in interactive programming
– Representing and manipulating history in live performance
– Freedoms, constraints and affordances in live coding environments

Authors should follow all CMJ author guidelines
(, paying particular
attention to the maximum length of 25 double-spaced pages.

Submissions should be received by 21st January 2013.  All submissions
and queries should be addressed to Alex McLean

April 24, 2012 at 9:45 am Leave a comment

An explanation for U. Florida’s CISE actions: A move towards Liberal Arts

Maybe this is just rationalization, but it’s particularly interesting from a “computer science as a liberal art” perspective.  The Dean of Engineering at U. Florida is described below as saying that these changes would encourage more liberal arts students to study computer science which is what local employers want.  Most of the explanations I’ve read for the change were more about strengthening computer engineering and tying CS and EE together more strongly.

Abernathy said she expects the changes actually would boost the computer science program’s enrollment. She said she has talked with MindTree about its employment needs and said the changes would help achieve its goal of hiring liberal arts students also studying computer science.

via Engineering College chairman blasts cuts as wrong time, wrong place |

April 24, 2012 at 9:42 am 1 comment

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