[chuck-users] live-coding resources

Kassen signal.automatique at gmail.com
Wed Oct 12 19:13:10 EDT 2011

On 11 October 2011 18:46, Renato Fabbri <renato.fabbri at gmail.com> wrote:

> Dear ChucKists, ChucKers and alike,
Hey Renato,

> We are going to do some live-coding performances in November here in
> Brazil,
> at São Carlos, and we wish to use ChucK as much as possible!

> It would be great to hear from you all about your live-coding experiences
> with
> ChucK: how you did it, which codes did you use, what was the outcome, what
> would you do different etc..
I'll share some ideas that things that I found, these are just my opinions,
others might think the exact opposite (in that case I'd like to hear

First of all; set out to have fun. Clearly livecoding involves a display of
skill but that -imho- shouldn't be more important than the fun that should
be the core of musical performance. Music is, after all, a form of
entertainment, not of competition or whatever.

That said; practice is quite important in any instrument and livecoding is
far from a exception. If you practice for a hour each day even for just a
month you'll see yourself progress by leaps and bounds. With practice you'll
be more relaxed when there is a actual audience and that's good; under
stress people get less creative (typically). Sometimes record your practices
and always time how long it takes you to go from 0 to something interesting;
it's fun to see that time go down.

Pick a good environment to work with. I like the MiniAudicle because you can
use the hotkeys to control the VM from inside of the editor. IMHO that's far
more convenient than reaching for a mouse. Sadly on Linux the hotkeys to
switch between text buffers don't work and when creating a new buffer it
won't get keyboard-focus without touching the mouse, Linux users may want to
pick a different editor for livecoding and probably map some of their own
hotkeys. Whatever you pick; stick with it while practicing.

As part of your practice regime; look for some strategies that create nice
music/sounds for little code and practice variations of those. I wouldn't
try try to memorise a multi-page program to enter that and have The Perfect
Track play just as the audience has left. Instead look for something that
will sound ok in its most basic form and get progressively more interesting
as you flesh it out. As you build up a repertoire of these you'll be able to
re-combine them in different ways. This keeps your practices more exciting
and by doing things in different (slightly) ways each time you avoid the
risk of a single accident throwing off your plans during a performance.

If you use samples keep them in a set directory with a set naming
convention; you only need to set that up once and it'll save a lot of
confusion and annoyances in the future.

Things like libraries for scales and clocks and things are nice, but I found
that keeping everything as simple as possible often works at least as well
and it's less effort :-).

Using random functions is easy but ultimately leads to pieces with little
sense of progression. I tend to have a random value or two in the first
version of the code that I write, then replace it with something more
interesting as I flesh it out.

The STK instruments in ChucK are a nice place to start with for
sound-generators that take little code to sound nice. Bonus points for
finding new ways to use them that are unlike their intended purpose.

Hmmm, I think that's about it for the general tips. That's probably a good
moment to repeat how important practice is; experience with writing larger
ChucK pieces in a non-live setting is helpful but not the same as specific
practice. Oh, and the bit about the "fun", that's important too.

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