Scientists make music #2: Live coding.

BBC News reveals the latest tactic in the war to make live electronica performances a little more of the moment: Have the musicians write their sound-making code on the fly:

Live coding has its own, custom-made programming languages, some of which are as simple as a 1970s computer interface, with lines of code entered onto a black screen.

Others might be more visual, with musical directions encoded as shapes that are arranged freehand on a screen.

“It might not be any easier to understand but it’s visually more interesting than just text,” Dave says.

“But then there’s also something nice about the purity of just having lines of code.”

Chris is a fan of the more visual software, but he follows the live coding purist’s tradition of starting off with a blank screen.

As he adds shapes corresponding to sounds, filling them in with numbers that finely tune their timbre or frequency, his stage fright is not in evidence.

He says that live coding is like building the computer programs that are commonly used to make electronic music; it is “one more level of abstraction” from the music itself.

“I’ve done all sorts of things with a computer and a stage, but [live coding] feels like it’s really native to computing,” says Matthew [Yee-King].

“It’s like a virtuosic exploration of the guts of the machine, in the same way that a piano virtuoso engages with the machine they’re using.”