Performative, improvised, on the fly: live coding is about how people interact with the world and each other via code. In the last few decades, live coding has emerged as a dynamic creative practice gaining attention across cultural and technical fields—from music and the visual arts through to computer science. Live Coding: A User’s Manual is the first comprehensive introduction to the practice, and a broader cultural commentary on the potential for live coding to open up deeper questions about contemporary cultural production and computational culture. This multi-authored book—by artists and musicians, software designers, and researchers—provides a practice-focused account of the origins, aspirations, and evolution of live coding, including expositions from a wide range of live coding practitioners. In a more conceptual register, the authors consider liveness, temporality, and knowledge in relation to live coding, alongside speculating on the practice’s future forms.
About the Author
Emma Cocker is a writer-artist and Associate Professor in Fine Art at Nottingham Trent University.
Geoff Cox is Associate Professor and Codirector of the Centre for the Study of the Networked Image at London South Bank University.
Thor Magnusson is Professor in Future Music at the University of Sussex and Research Professor at the Iceland University of the Arts.
Alex McLean is Research Fellow of the Then Try This independent research studio and instigator of the TidalCycles software and Algorave movement.
Table of Contents
List of Figures vii
Series Foreword xi
1 Introduction to Live Coding: A User's Manual 1
2 Partial Histories 13
3 Expositions 39
4 Notation 125
5 Live Coding's Liveness(es) 159
6 Time Criticality in Live Coding 181
7 What Does Live Coding Know? 205
8 What Does Live Coding Want? 229
What People are Saying About This
“This book situates live coding as the soul of programming: an intensely human activity, where immediate feedback encourages creativity, sensemaking, and intersubjectivity. It enables the programming of music, while revealing the music of programming.”
—Robert Biddle, PhD; Professor of Computer Science and Cognitive Science, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada
“Here is computer programming as a multimodal, performative, artistic act. This detailed account explains what live coding is, where it came from, its culture, why it's great, and where it is going.”
—Steven Tanimoto, Professor, University of Washington
“A perspective-changing book giving voice to the live coders who are re-inventing the relationship between humans and computing.”
—Mark Guzdial, Director, Program in Computing for the Arts and Sciences and Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, University of Michigan
“Through historical and speculative reflection and richly illustrated live-coder accounts, these five co-authors work skilfully intertwine the constraints of text with those inherent to their coding subject. An intriguing, informative, and lively read!”
—Sally Jane Norman, Director of Te Kōkī – New Zealand School of Music, Te Herenga Waka – Victoria University of Wellington, Aotearoa
“It is wonderful to see a new volume of artist statements and theory bring together so many interesting voices in live coding, supporting the continual renewal of this quirky field's exuberant existence.”
—Nick Collins, Professor at Durham University; codiscian; and co-editor of The SuperCollider Book