Live Coding in a Scalable, Participatory Laptop Orchestra

Author(s)
Year
2014
Volume
38
Issue
1
Pages
17-30
Abstract

Live coding (Collins et al. 2003 and other articles in this special issue of Computer Music Journal) is the central performance practice of the Cybernetic Orchestra, a laptop orchestra at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Inspired by the idea of participatory culture, the ensemble has been made open to a diverse and ever changing roster of participants, and may be likened to a human laboratory exploring this question: How is live coding scalable onto larger groups of people coming from diverse backgrounds? This article presents the practices that have developed during the first three years of the Cybernetic Orchestra's existence, starting with a summary of our human organization and physical infrastructure. The EspGrid software, developed for enhanced network synchronization and sharing, is reviewed before a final section presents the live coding practices that have crystallized around this specific collective of people, equipment, and code.