Sonic Writing: Technologies of Musical Expression, Notation and Encoding

Lead Research Organisation: University of Sussex
Department Name: Sch of Media, Film and Music

Abstract

The practices of creating, sharing and listening to music are changing. New digital media recast age-old technologies and introduce new avenues of musical expression. This project uses the novel concept of 'sonic writing' to encompass the making of musical instruments, the design of symbolic musical notation and the invention and use of sound recording technologies. Under the rubric of 'sonic writing' the research will undertake the first media theoretical investigation into how new musical media can be genealogically traced from historical inscription practices. Such a wide-ranging approach to the analysis of musical media has not been developed until now.

The project engages with the current pivotal moment in the music industry where a complete rethinking of established work practices and economic models is required. New instruments, notational techniques and media player technologies are emerging, representing an uncertain and fleeting technological situation where novelty and experimentation can be perceived to override concerns of sustainability and tradition. Whilst this transformation can be exciting, serious concerns are expressed by practitioners regarding the longevity and critical understanding of new musical work. This project will outline a clear vision and future direction for composers, performers and the wider industry in terms of compositional approach and technology design.

The primary output of this research is a monograph to be published by Bloomsbury in the Sound Studies series. A detailed programme of events underpins the research for the book, designed to establish a new research agenda in music technology research, as well as providing the PI with a significant opportunity to develop and exercise leadership skills in the research field. The two-year research programme is split into four work packages, which map to the research and writing of respective chapters in the book:

WP1 - Materialised Theories: Design Concepts in Musical Instruments
WP2 - Abstracting Sound: Symbols and Process in Musical Notation
WP3 - Encoding Sound: Phonography and Machine Listening
WP4 - New Musical Media: Writing Music with Algorithms

Each work package is undertaken through a partnership with a leading international research institution, investigating a bespoke area of sonic writing where key activities provide the basis for research methods, knowledge exchange and dissemination. These include:

- a residency
- a symposium
- two workshops
- archival research
- international conference
- extensive literature review

The project will map new developments and clarify an increasingly complex media landscape. By building up a strong online presence - through a website, mailing list and social media - the project enables interested parties to participate in a dialogue and partake in well-documented activities and outputs. The project establishes a collaborative and open approach that invites people from diverse fields, from leading researchers or industry people to music software users or listeners, to discuss research and development in this rapidly changing field.

For over 15 years, the PI has had an impactful career in developing free and open source musical software, publishing results widely in academic journals and conferences. He is the co-founder of the ixi-audio project, well known in the world of electronic music for its series of open source music software and knowledge exchange workshops in interactive sound programming. Building upon a strong network of academic partners and software users, this project will shape a new collaborative research agenda in the area of sonic writing, impacting on new music research and the future of sonic media. In alignment with the PI's past dissemination practices, this project will benefit other researchers, professionals in the music industry, aspiring younger musicians and the musically interested public.

Planned Impact

This research project will provide a clear understanding of how digital media transform traditional sonic writing practices in the areas of instrument making, notation and recording. The project directly responds to wide concerns of reproducibility and sustainability, as well as cultural memory and tradition. How is new music to be written with concerns of longevity? How can all cultural traditions be supported by new music technology? The danger with the digital transformation, where we reduce objects and practices of the physical world into abstract concepts in the digital domain, is the loss of tacit knowledge and cultural traditions. The project will launch a programme of knowledge exchange activities (see Pathways to Impact) designed to establish routes to impact by engaging with the following groups:

* Practitioners

Composers and performers will gain a clear understanding of the problems involved in designing and writing for new and future instruments. The project explores how musical works can be notated such that they can be ported to new platforms and re-interpreted in future technological contexts, as well as preserved and archived.

The research will map out instrumental ergonomics and design patterns that are transformed into new digital applications. By addressing cultural practices and the need for global traditions to be represented in new digital technologies, the project will be relevant for musicians at a global scale, provide guidance on open source approaches to hardware and software design, documentation and knowledge exchange.

Practitioners within all musical genres will, through the monograph and online media, have a joint resource and reference when engaging in the composition and interpretation of new musical scores. They will benefit from a historical view tracing evolution from early musical scores to current techniques such as animated, interactive and generative notations.

* Media and Industry

Journalists, critics, developers and manufacturers of new music technologies will benefit from the clear analysis and mapping of past, current and future practices in sonic writing. In the longer term, this will inform approaches concerning the representation of new instruments, compositional systems or file formats by manufacturers, online traders, galleries and museums.

Musicologists, journalists, critics and other writers on music will benefit from the taxonomical work defining this new field. The research will establish a much-needed common language for describing the work of composers, performers, technologists and instrument makers. New concepts in machine listening, computational creativity and interactivity will be outlined within this scope.

The project will have a longer-term impact on business models and policy for software houses and open source culture by presenting novel ways of creating and disseminating musical content. We currently lack commercial categories for diverse digital media content (for example, there is no 'generative music' category on the iTunes store).

* The Broader Public and Cultural Organisations

Cultural organisations, institutions, music venues and festivals will be able to engage more easily with a fast changing terrain in terms of how they define and specify resources, equipment and performance requirements. They will gain tools to analyse public interest in work of this kind.

Museums, galleries, libraries and other archives will acquire a better understanding of archival methods and priorities relevant for new media works. The problem of cultural memory in music technologies will be raised and investigated.

This research project will establish a unique platform where composers, performers, instrument makers, technologists and archivists come together for discussion, experimentation and collaboration on topics at the heart of the debate: issues of technology, composition, performance, making, coding, sharing and collaborating.

Publications

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Magnusson T (2016) Writing with shaky hands in International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media

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Magnusson T (2019) Echoes of other worlds: sound in virtual reality in International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media

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Magnusson T (2017) Musical Organics: A Heterarchical Approach to Digital Organology in Journal of New Music Research

 
Title Algorave in Brighton 
Description The Algorave club night in Brighton was held the night before our Live Coding and the Body symposium, as a way of welcoming the participants to the city, to the symposium. Some of the symposium participants performed in the event. The event was attended by diverse people, and included a strong group of international performers. 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2014 
Impact After the club night, we had various enquiries from the public regarding how to get started in live coding. 
URL http://algorave.com/brighton/
 
Title Brain Dead Ensemble: An Acoustically Networked Feedback Quartet 
Description The Brain Dead Ensemble are an acoustically networked feedback quartet/assemblage in which the structural, acoustic feedback pathways within and between "open" instruments create a fundamentally distributed musical agency. The current ensemble consists of two feedback cellos, a feedback bass and a Threnoscope, acoustically coupled to form a multi-instrument, multi-channel system - an expanded music interface. The feedback cellos and bass are electro-acoustic-digital resonator instruments. Each instrument has pickups under each of its strings and one or more transducers built into the acoustic instrument body, inducing electromagnetically-controlled feedback which can be subject to digital processing. The classical model of a bowed instrument is inverted: the player no longer controls and excites the strings to produce sound, but negotiates with an ongoing, lively, self-resonating instrument. The threnoscope is a software system created by ixi audio for drones, live coding and microtonal, spatialised composition. All the instruments are networked acoustically: the seven channels of the threnoscope are diffused to a quadraphonic PA plus the integral speakers of the string instruments. The acoustic result of these feedback processes is characterised by a variety of sonic colours including airy microtonal micro-melodies, serene yet colourful drones, complex spectral gestures, and vast explosions surfacing gradually or unpredictably into screams. Performances are improvised; an emergent, negotiated form of performance which involves the steering and shaping of evolving, distributed, sonic energies rather than the instigation and exchange of discrete musical ideas. No one is in control, although everyone is playing. 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2018 
Impact This performance resulted in us getting media attention, for example Reuters contacting my colleagues Chris Kiefer and Alice Eldridge and interview them about their feedback cellos. 
URL http://www.liveinterfaces.org/2018/
 
Title Fermata/Völuspá 
Description Colliding the worlds of live coding and ancient Nordic literature, Thor Magnusson presents a new work featuring old Norse kveding from author Bergsveinn Birgisson, free improvisation from vocalist Sofia Jernberg and guitarist Michal Matejka, and spatialised microtonal drones from Thor's unique instrument the Threnoscope, for a late night immersion in sound. The Threnoscope is notated through live coding, with sounds represented on a large projected graphical score. Its visual appearance illustrates the harmonics of a fundamental tone, as well as speaker locations, and musical notes move around the spectral and physical space, long in duration, and sculptable by the performer. 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2017 
Impact Students began using the Threnoscope in their work during our workshop. We also found out that the use of the Nordic Völuspá poem had encouraged many young Norwegians to begin reading this ancient poem from the 10th century. 
URL http://www.borealisfestival.no/2017/threnoscope-thor-magnusson-2/
 
Title Live Coding a Marimba player 
Description Thor Magnusson composed a piece via live coding by writing code that was be interpreted by the marimba player Greta Eacott. This was an experiment in how code can be used as a notational language for human interpreters. 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2015 
Impact The CMN - code music notation - system devised by Thor Magnusson for this performance has been used by other people. The code is open source on github. 
URL https://github.com/thormagnusson/cmn
 
Title The Threnoscope / Fermata 
Description Thor Magnusson performed with Peter Herbert (AT)/Hannes Löschel (AT) at the Media Sonorum concert, which was part of Ars Electronica. 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2018 
Impact Contacts made, resulting in an invitation for external examining at Linz university. Students using the Threnoscope software. 
URL https://ars.electronica.art/error/en/medium-sonorum/
 
Title Threnoscope live coding performance at a Brighton Club 
Description This club event was organised by a local Brighton organiser. Thor Magnusson performed with the latest version of the Threnoscope software. This software is one of the outputs of the Sonic Writing research project. 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2016 
Impact There were composers in the audience who wanted to use the software to compose their own music. Names were registered, as the software will be released to composers first. 
URL http://auraldetritus.blogspot.no/2016/02/blog-post.html
 
Description A large part of the Sonic Writing project focussed on engagement activities. There have been various workshops and public presentations, but the project involved the organisation of key events:

- Musical Organics Symposum and Workshop at STEIM, Amsterdam
- New Notations Symposium and Workshop at IRCAM, Paris
- The 3rd International Conference on Live Interfaces, Sussex, Brighton
- Arts Research Seminar at the Festival of Algorithmic and Mechanical Movement, Sheffield
- Residency and seminar at CNMAT, University of Berkeley
- Residency and workshop at CMC, Columbia University
- Residency and seminar at C4DM, Queen Mary University

These events have focussed on diverse research questions integral to the Sonic Writing project. Questions of technological agency in instrument design, changes of notation with digital technologies, of technology as prosthesis, and the role of algorithmic notation in artistic work have been the key questions studied in the respective events.

In the second year, the focus was more on establishing networks, interviews and doing residencies in the US, UK and Switzerland, primarily with the aim of supporting the monograph research.

The objectives of the award have been met. A journal article has been published in the Journal of New Music Research, and the TENOR journal, conference papers have been presented, and the Sonic Writing monograph was published by Bloomsbury Academic in February 2019.

The key findings of the project were developed into a monograph: Sonic Writing explores how contemporary music technologies trace their ancestry to previous forms of instruments and media. Studying the domains of instrument design, musical notation, and sound recording under the rubrics of material, symbolic, and signal inscriptions of sound, the book describes how these historical techniques of sonic writing are implemented in new digital music technologies. With a scope ranging from ancient Greek music theory, medieval notation, early modern scientific instrumentation to contemporary multimedia and artificial intelligence, it provides a theoretical grounding for further study and development of technologies of musical expression. The book draws a bespoke affinity and similarity between current musical practices and those from before the advent of notation and recording, stressing the importance of instrument design in the study of new music and projecting how new computational technologies, including machine learning, will transform our musical practices.

Sonic Writing offers a richly illustrated study of contemporary musical media, where interactivity, artificial intelligence, and networked devices disclose new possibilities for musical expression. Thor Magnusson provides a conceptual framework for the creation and analysis of this new musical work, arguing that contemporary sonic writing becomes a new form of material and symbolic design--one that is bound to be ephemeral, a system of fluid objects where technologies are continually redesigned in a fast cycle of innovation.
Exploitation Route There are various ways in which the findings of the current work can be used. For example, in terms of the new digital organology proposed by the concept of "musical organics", we might find an impact on museum collections, online repositories, and musical education. The concept proposes to look at digital musical instruments from a new perspective and situate them uniquely along other musical instruments. The project also developed a phenomenological terminology for the analysis of ergonomic objects, such as musical instruments. The terms "ergodynamics," "ergomimesis," and "ergophor" have been described in journal papers and are reaching impact.
Sectors Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

URL http://www.sonicwriting.org
 
Description The two years of the Sonic Writing project focussed on engagement activities related to instrument design, new notations, and the study of digital musical instruments. Online tutorials have been published, workshops have been held, and the research team has been active in presenting work at conferences and symposia. The Sonic Writing project has organised a few key events in this first year of activity: - Musical Organics Symposum and Workshop at STEIM, Amsterdam (impact report: http://users.sussex.ac.uk/~thm21/sonicwriting/MusicalOrganicsImpact.pdf) - New Notations Symposium and Workshop at IRCAM, Paris - The 3rd International Conference on Live Interfaces, Sussex, Brighton (impact report: http://users.sussex.ac.uk/~thm21/sonicwriting/ICLIImpactReport.pdf) - Arts Research Seminar at the Festival of Algorithmic and Mechanical Movement, Sheffield - Residency and seminar at CNMAT, University of Berkeley - Residency and workshop at CMC, Columbia University - Residency and seminar at C4DM, Queen Mary University These events have focussed on diverse research questions integral to the Sonic Writing project. Questions of technological agency in instrument design, changes of notation with digital technologies, of technology as prosthesis, and the role of algorithmic notation in artistic work have been the key questions studied in the respective events. At all of the above events, people report that networks have been formed, research collaborations, artistic collaborations, and invites. After two years of working on the project, the theoretical results have materialised in journal articles, conference papers, invited presentations and a monograph. The impact of this work is now slowly emerging with citations, further invitations and inclusion into international academic networks. I will report on this impact in the next year's impact narrative.
First Year Of Impact 2016
Sector Creative Economy,Education,Electronics
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

 
Description Grants for the arts
Amount £4,530 (GBP)
Organisation Arts Council England 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2016 
End 07/2016
 
Description Centre for Digital Music - Queen Mary University 
Organisation Queen Mary University of London
Department Centre for Digital Music (C4DM)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I lead a research seminar at C4DM, interviewed researchers, and recruited composers to compose for my Threnoscope software.
Collaborator Contribution We enthusiastically support Dr Magnusson's proposed research, which includes a work package that addresses machine listening, its historical origins and its applications to instrument design and musical notation. His findings on this project will be relevant to our own research. During the weeklong residency, tentatively scheduled for autumn 2016, Dr Magnusson will be invited to give a seminar and an interactive workshop on his research. These events will be promoted internally within C4DM and externally via the UK-wide Digital Music Research Network mailing list. Dr Magnusson will also have discussions and interviews with researchers and students. C4DM academics and research fellows whose work is particularly relevant to the proposed project include Dr Bob Sturm, Dr Dan Stowell and Dr Emmanouil Benetos (machine listening), Prof Mark Sandler (semantic media and DSP), Prof Geraint Wiggins (computational creativity), Prof Elaine Chew (musical expression), Dr Andrew McPherson and Dr Nick Bryan-Kinns (instruments and interaction). His primary host during the residency will be Dr Andrew McPherson.
Impact Interviews for my book. Composers composing for the Threnoscope.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Residency and Symposium collaboration with IRCAM, Paris 
Organisation Institute for Research and Coordination in Acoustics/Music
Country France 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution In collaboration with IRCAM we organised the New Notations Symposium (http://www.sonicwriting.org/ircam.html) and engaged with local general public.
Collaborator Contribution IRCAM provided an office, access to archives, people, and technicians.
Impact The participants in the workshop formed a network that is still active. Further collaborations are materialising.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Residency and Symposium collaboration with STEIM, Amsterdam 
Organisation STEIM: Studio for Electro-Instrumental Music, Amsterdam
Country Netherlands 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution We organised a symposium and a workshop at STEIM in May 2016. The workshop was international and attracted people from diverse institutions, as well as local public.
Collaborator Contribution STEIM hosted a residency for Thor Magnusson. He had access to a recording studio, internet, archives and the people working at STEIM.
Impact Participants in the symposium have begun collaborations, such as Andrew McPherson working with Marije Baalman on SuperCollder for the Bela Platform (http://bela.io), Hans Johannsson and Halldor Ulfarsson collaborating on luthiership, Sarah Nicolls engaging with the Icelandic Academy of the Arts, and many further examples.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Residency and a Symposium at CMC - Columbia University 
Organisation Columbia University
Department Computer Music Center
PI Contribution As part of his residency, we would like for Dr. Magnusson to present a day-long symposium covering his work as well as more informal presentations to our graduate and undergraduate classes during his stay. We also expect to arrange individual meetings with some of our faculty and students while Dr. Magnusson is here. He is a well-known and respected musician and researcher, and there is a high degree of interest in his work in the New York area. We would be honored to serve as his "base" for a time. .
Collaborator Contribution We will be able to provide Dr. Magnusson with full access to our studios and our archive of equipment and documents (dating back to the early 1950's), as well as provide him with general access to the Libraries and facilities of Columbia University during his stay. We will also provide the necessary space and technical support for Dr. Magnusson's symposium and presentations, as well as any technical support he may need for his work while in New York. For the purposes of his grant application, I estimate the value of this support to be $3400.00 (I can provide a more detailed break-down if required)
Impact Collaborations with composers who will compose with my software. I interviewed composers and performers at CMC and they will be part of my monograph and also video documentary.
Start Year 2016
 
Description 2nd Make, Do and Bend Day 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact After a Make, Do and Bend Lab event Thor Magnusson, Eleonora Oreggio, Andrew Hugill, Claudio Molitor, Marko Donnarumma and Steve Polymorou got funding to develop ideas further. These were demonstrated at the next Make, Do and Bend event at Central St. Martin's in London.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CnHVP7_WgAAbBoI.jpg:large
 
Description A paper on Generative Music at the Alternative Histories of Electronic Music International Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I presented a paper on generative music at the Alternative Histories of Electronic Music conference. The conference is organised by James Mooney, in relation to the AHRC-funded Hugh Davis research project. This three-day international conference was staged as part of an AHRC project exploring the work of the English musician and musicologist Hugh Davies (1943-2005). The project was led by Dr James Mooney (University of Leeds) in partnership with Dr Tim Boon (Science Museum). Further information on the project itself can be found on the project website.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://ahem2016.wordpress.com
 
Description Algorave in Sheffield 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This Algorave, hosted by Access Space in Sheffield, was a warm up evening before the International Conference on Live Coding (also organised by our network). The evening was well attended and we streamed the performances online. Both Thor Magnusson and Alex McLean performed during the event.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL https://www.facebook.com/events/1421854724792689/
 
Description Arts Research Symposium at the Festival of Algorithmic and Mechanical Movements, Sheffield 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The AlgoMech Arts Research Symposium took place within the Festival of Algorithmic and Mechanical Movement, on the 13th November 2016 at the Sheffield Hallam University in Sheffield, UK. AlgoMech celebrates a resurgence of making in performance, where creative processes are made visible during a live event. Rather than presenting technology as seamless, we pick at the seams, exposing its innards as human-made and reconfigurable. We will also go beyond fashionable notions of technology to take the long view; bringing together mechanical, kinetic, electronic, and software arts, from periods spanning the stone age to present day, building a picture of the human maker as both digital and analogue, thinking and feeling, embodied yet reaching beyond what is bodily possible. The festival will take place across Sheffield, and will include concerts, talks, hands-on workshops, and a club night.

The arts research symposium focused on the latest developments in this field, drawing on both academic and artistic perspectives. We invited proposals for artist talks and academic papers in the form of short abstracts, describing the theme and structure of the research presentation or the artist talk. As an inclusive, cross-disciplinary symposium, we were open-minded about the form of the talk and proposal.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://miptl.org/site/musical-instruments/arts-research-symposium-at-the-algomech-festival-call-for-...
 
Description Creative Data Club - Sound and Music project platform 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Alex McLean and Thor Magnusson presented their live coding projects at Sound and Music's (http://www.soundandmusic.org) Creative Data Club at Somerset House, London. The event was open for the general public. After the talks Alex McLean, Alexandra Cardenas and Thor Magnusson performed as part of the Big Bang Data (http://bigbangdata.somersethouse.org.uk) exhibition.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.soundandmusic.org/creativedata
 
Description Designing Interfaces for Creativity Panel 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Performance and panel discussion at the Designing Interfaces for Creativity event at the Sussex Humanities Lab. Thor Magnusson partook in a panel on The Concept of Virtuosity in Musical Instrument Design, and also performed on the threnoscope with Thanos Polymeneas Liontiris (double bass) and Alice Eldridge (cello).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://desinc.mfm.sussex.ac.uk
 
Description DiDIY Maker Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact We organised a DiDIY Maker Workshop at the University of Sussex. The workshop is part of the DiDIY research project into maker culture and digital do it yourself (DiDIY). The event was free and took place in the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/didiy-maker-workshop-at-university-of-sussex-tickets-26679962486
 
Description Ergomimesis in instrumental design: Of material, symbolic and signal inscriptions 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presenting new research that resulted from the work on the Sonic Writing book, at the Sonido y Acción Symposium at Bilbao University.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.azkunazentroa.eus/az/ingl/activities/simposio-sonido-y-accion/al_evento_fa
 
Description European Researchers' Night 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Presenting work on new music and AI at the Visindavaka science night in Reykjavik. Also got a booth, and I look forward to meet people and talk about new music
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://visindavaka.is
 
Description Experimental Music Lab Presentation at the Brighton: Music City/Digital City event hosted by the Digital Catapult Centre 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Thor Magnusson, Chris Kiefer, and Andrew Duff presented the Experimental Music Technologies Lab at the Brighton: Music City/Digital City event hosted by the Digital Catapult Centre. We talked about and demonstrated some live coding, feedback cellos, and modular synths. The presentation was about the Experimental Music Technologies Lab at Sussex and through this engagement with industry people we have gained new potential collaborators, for example exploring a Knowledge Transfer Partnership with a local Brighton IT company.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.digitalcatapultcentre.org.uk/event/brighton-music-citydigital-city/
 
Description Expert panel on Machine Creativity at the IASPM conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Thor Magnusson chaired a roundtable on machine creativity at the IASPM conference held at the University of Sussex in September, 2016. Panel members were: Elaine Chew, Rebecca Fiebrink, Andrew McPherson, and Bob Sturm.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://www.iaspm.org.uk/conference2016/
 
Description Fermata - Musical Performance and talk at the NEXT festival in Bratislava, Slovakia. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A collaboration with Sofia Jernberg, Robert Kolár and Michal Matejka at the Next Festival in Bratislava. I live coded with the Threnoscope. This event lead to further collaboration and the same team performed at the Borealis Festival of Experimental Music, Bergen, Norway, in March 2017.

Founded 2000 by the Atrakt Art label and association, NEXT Festival is the leading festival of exploratory music in Slovakia. From electronic experiments to free-form improvisation and audiovisual projects, it brings together musicians that are pushing the boundaries of music.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://2016.nextfestival.sk/en/
 
Description Fermata/Völuspá Performance at the Opening Night of the Borealis Festival, Bergen, Norway 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Colliding the worlds of live coding and ancient Nordic literature, Thor Magnusson presented a new work featuring old Norse kveding from author Bergsveinn Birgisson, free improvisation from vocalist Sofia Jernberg and guitarist Michal Matejka, and spatialised microtonal drones from the unique instrument the Threnoscope, for a late night immersion in sound.

The Threnoscope is notated through live coding, with sounds represented on a large projected graphical score. Its visual appearance illustrates the harmonics of a fundamental tone, as well as speaker locations, and musical notes move around the spectral and physical space, long in duration, and sculptable by the performer.

For Borealis, the drones of the Threnoscope were combined with a reading of the Völuspá - an Old Norse poem from the Poetic Edda, an anonymous collection that underpins Nordic heritage that is performed in a style that falls somewhere between reading and singing. On top of this there will be interventions on the Nykirken organ and the textural and guttural improvisation of Sofia and Michal, bringing ancient musical traditions together with the wild energy of free improvisation.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.borealisfestival.no/2017/threnoscope-thor-magnusson-2/
 
Description Interagency in Technologically Mediated Performance 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact In this talk, Thor Magnusson discussed the concept of music technology, aiming to redefine it as something we do, as opposed to something we consume. Live coding was used as an example of activities that redefine technology and frame the user as the maker and master of technological processes that eventually yield creative outputs.

This was primarily an academic gathering, but it resulted in a strong network of people who will continue working together, for example through a workshop that will run as part of the International Conference on Live Interfaces (a biennial conference that is strongly related to this current project, initiated by Co-I Alex McLean in 2012, run in Lisbon in 2014 and will be hosted at the University of Sussex in 2016, chaired by the PI, Thor Magnusson).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL https://www.eventbrite.com/e/interagency-in-technologically-mediated-performance-tickets-19600034230...
 
Description Interfacing Sound: Visual Representation of Sound in Software - a talk at Brighton Music Technology Collective 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Thor Magnusson presented theories of visual design and notation experiments in the area of sound software at the monthly Open Sound Collective events in Brighton's Kemptown. The OSC have a monthly meetup for electronic musicians and more info can be found on their excellent webpage.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://opensoundcollective.com
 
Description International Conference on Live Coding 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The research network hosted the 1st International Conference on Live Coding. We had about 120 participants who presented papers, performed and gave workshops. The daytime concerts and evening performances were open to the public.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://iclc.livecodenetwork.org/2015/
 
Description International Conference on Live Interfaces 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The 3rd International Conference on Live Interfaces was held at the University of Sussex's Attenborough Centre between June 28th - July 3rd. The conference focusses on the role of the live interface in the performing arts. The keynotes this year were magician Stuart Nolan, instrument maker Kristina Andersen, and puppeteer Roman Paska.

The conference took take place at the University of Sussex in June, 2016. This biennial conference brought together people working with live interfaces in the performing arts, including music, the visual arts, dance, puppetry, robotics or games. The conference scope was highly interdisciplinary but with a focus on interface technologies of expression in the area of performance. Topics of liveness, immediacy, presence (and tele-presence), mediation, collaboration and timing or flow were engaged with and questioned in order to gain a deeper understanding of the role contemporary media technologies play in human expression.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.liveinterfaces.org
 
Description Keynote on music software and live coding 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact In this keynote Thor Magnusson discussed work in composition, performance and the development of audiovisual software - from small instrumental applications to live coding systems. Exploring concepts of affordances and constraints, the ixi lang and Threnoscope live coding environments were presented as examples of limited systems that frame the musician's compositional thoughts. Both are systems that engage with the visual as an integral element of musical composition, equally as prescriptive and representative notation for musical processes.

The talk examined how music software development goes hand in hand with music research; where the digital system's requirements for specifications and completeness inevitably forces a strong understanding of the source domain. Such musical practice, when expressed through performance or composition, derives from a rigid research process, yet exists separately from it.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.iscmme.leeds.ac.uk/past-iscmme/#programme-1
 
Description Live Coding Performance at the University of Edinburgh 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Collaboration with Pete Furniss (clarinet). The Fermata is a piece written for a microtonal drone instrument called Threnoscope and an acoustic instrument. It is a framework for improvisation of microtonal music, where both the live coder and the instrumentalist contribute equally to the piece's development. The Threnoscope is notated through live coding, with sounds being represented on a graphical score next to the coding terminal. Its visual appearance illustrates the harmonics of a fundamental tone, as well as speaker locations. Musical notes move around the spectral and physical space, long in duration, and sculptable by the performer.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Live Coding Performance at the xCoAx conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Collaboration with Pete Furniss (clarinet). The Fermata is a piece written for a microtonal drone instrument called Threnoscope and an acoustic instrument. It is a framework for improvisation of microtonal music, where both the live coder and the instrumentalist contribute equally to the piece's development. The Threnoscope is notated through live coding, with sounds being represented on a graphical score next to the coding terminal. Its visual appearance illustrates the harmonics of a fundamental tone, as well as speaker locations. Musical notes move around the spectral and physical space, long in duration, and sculptable by the performer.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://2015.xcoax.org
 
Description Live Coding Presentation and Workshop at MediaLab Prado, Madrid 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Medialab-Prado in Madrid regularly organises live coding events. Thor Magnusson presented his work on live coding research and notation: ixiQuarks, ixi lang and Threnoscope software demonstrated, and then a SuperCollider workshop.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://medialab-prado.es/article/visitantes-de-live-coding-en-madrid
 
Description Live Coding Workshop at MediaLab Helsinki 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Workshop in live coding with ixi lang, Sonic Pi and SuperCollider for the MediaLab Sonic Research group, Helsinki. This was a week-long workshop.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Live Coding and Collaboration 
Form Of Engagement Activity Scientific meeting (conference/symposium etc.)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation workshop facilitator
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Second research symposium in Birmingham, focussing on live coding in collaborative, ensemble and network audio/visual performance. The symposium started with a doctoral colloquium the day earlier.

Doctoral students got engaged and involved in the live coding network.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.livecodenetwork.org/live-coding-and-collaboration-a-report/
 
Description Live Coding and the Body Symposium 
Form Of Engagement Activity Scientific meeting (conference/symposium etc.)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation workshop facilitator
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact First research workshop in Brighton on live coding, focussing on relationships between code and the body in live performance arts. The event was held after the NIME conference in Goldsmiths, London, and we were fortunate to have a strong international presence at the symposium, e.g., from Australia, Japan, Mexico, USA, Europe. The event connected diverse people and institutions who had not met before and the objective of the event was fulfilled as diverse connections and future plans were made.

The symposium was public, open to anyone, but had a strong academic presence. We also organised a club event with live music at a Brighton nightclub. This was a successful event that attracted people from the city.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.livecodenetwork.org/body/
 
Description Live Coding talk at Queen Mary University 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact In this talk, Thor Magnusson gave a quick introduction to live coding and his ixi lang system, but then moved on to the context of code as musical notation, the problem of the score, and how/why one would perform writing code. Thor introduced the improvisational features of his Threnoscope software, which implements a micro-language for drone-based microtonal and spatial composition.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.eecs.qmul.ac.uk/events/view/live-coding-notation-and-improvisation-seminar-by-thor-magnus...
 
Description Musical Instruments in the 21st Century 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The German 3DMIN project organised a Symposium on Musical Instruments in the 21st Century. The symposium was be held in Designtransfer Berlin and presented work that is part of a Springer book publication ("Instruments in the 21st Century: Identities, Configurations, Practices"). Thor Magnusson has a book chapter in that publication.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.3dmin.org/symposium/
 
Description Musical Live Coding Performance at the Sussex Humanities Lab 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact In this performance, Thor Magnusson introduced the field of live coding and performed with his Threnoscope live coding system.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Musical Organics Symposium at STEIM, Amsterdam 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The Sonic Writing project team is organising a symposium on musical instruments design at the central studio for the study of electronic instruments, STEIM in Amsterdam. The symposium includes 12 key presentations, 6 musical performances and plenty of discussions about musical instrument design. Find information about the Musical Organics symposium on the website, and you are welcome to register and join us during the day. The symposium is followed by workshops the next day.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.sonicwriting.org/steim.html
 
Description New Notations Symposium at IRCAM, Paris 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The New Notations Symposium at IRCAM explored current notational practices in the writing for new instruments and media. The aim was to study the changes in notational strategies that are brought forward with new music technologies, where graphics, animation, and algorithmic techniques offer extended compositional possibilities. Musical notation and instruments evolve in parallel, and we find that in much contemporary work, the notation system becomes part of the instrument, or even an integral part of the musical piece itself. Processor-based media enable dynamic score systems that are applied to generate musical events in real-time or respond to instrumental performances in ways traditional media are not capable of.

Furthermore, with the increased analytical power gained with machine listening technologies, we find that auxillary notations of timbre, gesture, and affect become important aspects of the "writing" of a musical work. Contemporary composers study this potential of new notation, and this symposium looks into the design of new instruments from ergonomic and timbral perspectives and studies how musical notation develops in concert with these changes.

Symposium topics included musical notation for new instruments, secondary notation, graphic or algorithmic notation, live and animated notation, usability, sustainability and legacy, tradition, issues of learning, audience communication, and more. The symposium consisted of presentations, performances, and discussions. It was an open event involving the Parisian public, practitioners, and an invited group of international researchers.

The symposium took place over two days, where the first day was presentations, performances and discussions. The second day consisted of workshops and discussions.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.sonicwriting.org/ircam.html
 
Description Organisational Kick-off Seminar in London 
Form Of Engagement Activity Scientific meeting (conference/symposium etc.)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation workshop facilitator
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact Organisational Meeting - Kick-off meeting including a music performance event at the Centre for Creative Collaboration (http://creative-collaboration.net), involving investigators, steering committee and key participants.

The symposium involved defining the current context and planning the future of the research network. We discussed social engagement in diverse forms, and collaboration with other research projects.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.livecodenetwork.org/launch-report/
 
Description Presentation at Embodied Intelligence in Music - Live (or EIM-Live) network 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact EIM-Live is the meeting point of embodied cognition, artificial intelligence, music composition and performance, game and software philosophy, and R&D for the entertainment industry. We aim to develop the parameters of a new field of research, and kickstart a longer-term project.

EIM-Live is a new network of trans-disciplinary researchers and practitioners in computational intelligence, creative computing, embodied cognition in music, software philosophy, media cognition, computer game theory, composers, improvisers and performers.

EIM-Live is a HEIF funded project based at De Montfort University.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://eim-live.our.dmu.ac.uk
 
Description Presenting the Threnoscope at the TENOR conference. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This talk explored live coding environments in the context of notational systems. The improvisational practice of live coding as combining both composition and per- formance is introduced and selected systems are dis- cussed. The author's Threnoscope system was described, but this is a system that enables the performer to work with both descriptive and prescriptive scores that can be run and altered in an improvisational performance.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://tenor2015.tenor-conference.org/program.html
 
Description Research Talk at the Icelandic University of the Arts 
Form Of Engagement Activity Scientific meeting (conference/symposium etc.)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation keynote/invited speaker
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The presentation introduced live coding activities in the UK, and the activities of this AHRC research network was discussed. The presentation also introduced various live coding systems, many who are created by members of this research network.

After the talk, we did a small workshop in ixi lang. ixi lang has now been adopted as part of music curriculum at the academy.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://lhi.is
 
Description Sonic Writing workshop at Lydgalleriet, Bergen 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact At the Borealis festival in Bergen, Thor Magnusson collaborated with author Bergsveinn Birgisson on a Sonic Writing workshop at Lydgalleriet, Bergen. The workshop focused on topics related to the Sonic Writing research project, namely instrument design, new notations and performance. The workshop was offered to students at KIB (Kunst- og designhøgskolen i Bergen), Architecture, Creative writing (Skrivekunstakademiet i Hordaland) and The Grieg Academy (Griegakademiet), as well as the general public. The workshop explored the way we write with particular focus on sound. Abstract poetry like sound-poetry or after-language poetry, textual musical notation, algorithmic notation, secondary musical notation, sound poetry, concrete poetry, and graphic notation are all forms of writing that we will engage with during the workshop. We made musical instruments, considering how their design is a process of writing. The workshop was highly interdisciplinary - with participants from institutions of divergent practices - and we considered approaches in thinking about writing sound, about composing instruments, writing algorithms, speaking notes, drawing sound.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.lydgalleriet.no/?p=1744
 
Description Sound Work: Composition as Critical Technical Practice 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Thor Magnusson gave a talk called "How I wrote one of my pieces", with a focus on the Threnoscope at the Sound Work research seminar at the Orpheus Institute in Ghent, Belgium.

The 10th Orpheus Research Seminar offered the opportunity for contributors from around the world to gather and explore the theme of composition as critical technical practice.

This seminar - convened by Jonathan Impett - considered composition as a research activity - a process informed by theory and intuition, constraint and contingency, expectation and experience. It is a continuous iterative process of inscription and reflection in which its models, metaphors, aspirations, obligations, tools and technologies all play a part. This process is distributed temporally, socially and materially. The artefacts of composition - however notated, improvised, virtual, embodied or technologically implemented - are hybrid technical objects. Neither pure 'inspiration' not unmediated formalism account for what they contribute. We might rather consider composition as a design process, and study its dynamics and decisions in the spirit of critical technical practice - a term coined by Philip Agre in his work on the creation of the artefacts of artificial intelligence.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.orpheusinstituut.be/en/events/sound-work-composition-as-critical-technical-practice
 
Description Symposium on Live Coding in Education at Cambridge University 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact The third symposium in our research network series took place in Cambridge on January 9th. Hosted by Pam Burnard, an education specialist, the event had the theme of "Live Coding in Education." This was our smallest symposium, designed to be a dialogue between secondary school teachers and live coders, exploring how to respond to new IT curriculum.

For us live coders the event was very interesting and educational. Topics ranged from discussions of how to teach creativity with code as means, to improvisation, conversation with code, coding as performance, the reversion back to Smalltalk, feminism, sharing of repertoire, and the role of live coding in IT education. It seemed that the biggest hurdle for introducing live coding in schools is the limited scope teachers have for exploring extracurricula topics: they need all the time they can get to get through the most basic things they are supposed to cover.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.livecodenetwork.org
 
Description Touching Sound Symposium 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation of work and a performance with Petur Jonasson, guitarist. The participation was good for networking and I got in touch with many UK-based composers and practitioners who I plan to work with in the future.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://sparc.london/touch-symposium
 
Description York Research Seminar 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact In this lecture Thor Magnusson presented recent research which explores how contemporary music technologies trace their ancestry to previous forms of instruments and media. Postgraduate students at York contextualised the Sonic Writing theory with their own work, resulting in new understanding of own practice.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.york.ac.uk/music/news-and-events/events/research/2018-19/spring-week-6/