TOPLAP CDs

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We only released one CD. There are other live coding related albums released by chordpunch though.

TOPLAP001 - A prehistory of live coding

Track Listing

  1. Ron Kuivila: Water Surface (1985, reconstructed 2007)
  2. The Hub: Hub x 6 (1986)
  3. Julian Rohrhuber: West Nile (2001, reconstructed 2007)
  4. Fabrice Mogini and Nick Collins: excerpt from a sixty minute live coding CD (2002)
  5. Julian Rohrhuber, Volko Kamensky: Alles was wir haben (2003)
  6. Dave Griffiths: Queens Woods (2004)
  7. Ge Wang and Perry Cook: On-the-fly Counterpoint (2005)
  8. slub: 20060401folded (2006)
  9. Click Nilson: lc4aug (2006)
  10. redFrik: aug19 (2006)
  11. Julian Rohrhuber: elementary_house (2007)
  12. aa-cell: Bowerbird (2007)
  13. Akihiro Kubota: Sonic Melting Pot #2 (2007)
  14. Renate Wieser: L'éspion (2007)
  15. Powerbooks Unplugged: at TUBE, munich (2007)
  16. IN SAND: human computation (Click Nilson 1975, realised 2007)

Liner notes

1. Ron Kuivila: Water Surface (1985, reconstructed 2007)

This work used live FORTH programming; Curtis Roads witnessed and reported a performance by Ron Kuivila at STEIM in 1985; the original performance apparently closed with a system crash...

2. The Hub: Hub x 6 (1986)

The six Hub members here are: Chris Brown John Bischoff Mark Trayle Phil Stone Scot Gresham-Lancaster Tim Perkis

The consensus seems to be for this track, which was made in 1986 when the group first started playing together. It was the first track of the second side of a cassette release called "Hub Music", that included several pieces by smaller subsets of what eventually became The Hub, and this one track which supposedly contains all of us playing. We can come up with a blurb to explain better how it does and does not relate to the live-coding thing -- but let us know if you think this track would be appropriate.

3. Julian Rohrhuber: West Nile (2001, reconstructed 2007)

(2007 reconstruction of some moment in the concert in Polar Bear Club @ Subtonic, Tonic, New York, 9/7/2001). This piece sonifies the first part of the aminoacid sequence of the west nile virus genome, live coding different melodic interpretations, rewriting of instruments and algorithmic ambient sounds (the term "live coding" did not exist at the time, one of the code files used says "ascii music / concert programming").

4. Fabrice Mogini and Nick Collins: excerpt from a sixty minute live coding CD (2002)

Fabrice and Nick used to live code together in London, using SuperCollider 2. They recorded a whole CD worth of material in 2002; this excerpt is the first public release from those sessions. It is possible that one of them invented the term 'live coding', probably Fabrice, though there may also have been some discussion on the SuperCollider list at the time.

5. Julian Rohrhuber, Volko Kamensky: Alles was wir haben (2003) Mastering Alberto de Campo et al.

Excerpt from the sound track of the documentary "Alles was wir haben" ("All that we have", Volko Kamensky, 2004). Rewriting the running program allows to find algorithms that resemble natural sounds. In avoiding to model physical processes by implementing assumed physical laws, but rather by following the scent of their perceptual trace, live coding is part of a process of concept formation and concrete abstraction. This excerpt consists of algorithmic sounds which have been programmed from memory and negociated in conversation.

6. Dave Griffiths: Queens Woods (2004)

Queens Woods is a section taken from a set of long improvised recordings I made in 2004 to test "noisepattern", an algorithmic sequencer designed for live performances. The purpose of the software was to exercise different forms of musical pattern generation - in this case a cellular automata percussion generator, and an L System live coding interface for the melodies.

7. Ge Wang and Perry Cook: On-the-fly Counterpoint (2005)

While the earliest ChucKian live coding performances of Ge and Perry date back to 2003, most recordings of passable audio quality have since been lost (which is probably a good thing). This track features excerpts from a 2005 performance of "On-the-fly Counterpoint" in Princeton University, with Ge and Perry live coding using a still fledgeling ChucK programming language.

8. slub: 20060401folded (2006)

slub are three poor hackers working for a living. This recording was taken at area10, a warehouse in Peckham, South London. Halfway through this performance an angel appeared from a trapdoor and flew around the room, jerking in time with the music. No-one has spoken of it since, although at times you can just about make out her voice in the background. Each member of slub uses his own handmade livecoding environment. Ade has 'pure events', a kind of recursive mod tracker with an embedded scripting language. Dave has 'fluxus', an audio/visual game engine based around a dynamic scheme interpreter. Alex has 'feedback.pl', a text editor for livecoding Perl. They achieve timesync using a local network but otherwise communicate purely by using sounds and eyebrows.

9. Click Nilson: lc4aug (2006)

Extracted from an announcement on the TOPLAP mailing list, 3/8/2006:

Fredrik and I have become convinced that we actually need to do some live coding practice every day like diligent instrumentalists. We have decided to do one session a day of dedicated practice for the month of August. SuperCollider will be our language platform. In order to force ourselves to do the hard work, and to make it accessible to those who might be curious or not believe us, and we will post our text files and any comments in a live coding blog via the TOPLAP wiki and SuperCollider swiki.

I'm curious to see if we will be any better after a month? Personally, my first three aren't very good, and I got hung up on some technical explorations rather than production. Must do better.

10. redFrik: aug19 (2006)

This is an excerpt from a one hour long livecoding practice session done in August 2006. Everything from synthesis to patterns was constructed from scratch within the one hour timeframe. Furthermore, this particular practice session was part of a bigger scope: a one month collaborative effort to get better at livecoding SuperCollider. The code for the complete month is available online (fredrikolofsson.com).

11. Julian Rohrhuber et al.: elementary_house (2007)

This happened in a seminar on mathematical group theory

12. aa-cell: Bowerbird (2007)

Bowerbird (extract) is a work by Australian duo aa-cell (Andrew Brown & Andrew Sorensen). aa-cell have been performing using the impromptu environment (http://impromptu.moso.com.au) since June 2005. Bowerbird was recorded in February 2007 and explores the isomorphisms between musical processes and simple mathematical functions. This is an area of ongoing exploration for aa-cell. Bowerbird employs a number of simple functions such as Markov chains for controlling harmonic structure, recursion for providing temporal progression, trigonometric functions outlining metric pulse, pitch class sets for note selection and linear scaling for motific variation.

13. Akihiro Kubota: Sonic Melting Pot #2 (2007)

Before the performance, I prepared a nonlinear feedback loop whose behavior cannot be predicted intuitively. I call the nonlinear feed back loop "sonic melting pod". For this piece, I prepared the sonic melting pod base on the rjk's chaos. During the performance, I dump in various sounds such as impulses, sinusoids, noises and mic inputs with monitoring sonic waves and spectra. I observe how the sound is mixed, evolved and emerged from the melting pod as if I am a mad scientist. Moreover, I add, edit and modify the code of the melting pod wIth listening the sound.

On the live coding performance, I am part of the programming code.

14. Renate Wieser: L'éspion (2007)

Living room recording of a live coding session, between signal music and abstract beats.

15. Powerbooks Unplugged: at TUBE, munich (2007) (Echo Ho, Jan-Kees van Kampen, Hannes Hoelzl, Alberto de Campo, Renate Wieser, Julian Rohrhuber).

Linked with wireless network, powerbooks unplugged uses the internal speakers of their six laptops. All sounds are algorithmically generated and distributed during the concert: Sitting in the audience space and abandoning the stage, everyone plays on any of the computers, and all code is sent to everyone.

16. IN SAND: human computation (Click Nilson 1975, realised 2007)

Experiment in live coding of human action with Brighton based improv ensemble In Sand. Each musician had a music stand for individual instruction sets. Messages could be passed around and instructions modified during performance; Click Nilson wandered through the room causing algorithmic trouble.

Richard Padley - electric guitar Satoko Fukuda - violin Danny Kingshill - cello Gus Garside - double bass Thor Magnusson - laptop

Review

Review in The Wire, May 2008:

A prehistory of Live Coding TOPLAP CD

Four years ago, in a smoky bar in Hamburg, Toplap was formed -- an organisation dedicated to promoting live algorithm programming. So far, so niche. Defying expectation however, it has since exploded into a fully functioning electronic music scene, with hundreds of practitioners improvising with live coding languages such as SuperCollider and ChucK. That is, writing, rewriting and modifying music software on the fly during performance (often with the rapidly changing code projected on a screen).

The cream of this scene's live recorded output has now been collated on Toplap's inaugural release. Despite superficially geeky origins -- many performers are coders first, musicians second -- the music here is stacked with depth, guts and soul. Opener "Water Surface" by Ron Kuivila is a featherlight study, shimmering with static broken by bursts of bee-like feedback. In contrast, The Hub's "Hub x 6" is an analogue-style fun fest of farty trumpet bursts and spaceship noise. RedFrik's ticklish "Aug 19" is Luke Vibert-style acid, but with enough rhythmic aberrations to take it beyond twee. "20060401folded" by scene forerunners Slub is a compelling, edgy slice of rollercoaster Techno. In truth, it's hard to believe much of the music here is essentially freewheeling software reined in by finger tapping humans. Live coding has so far flourished, but under a bushel. Perhaps it's time the rest of us got a look in.

Susanna Glaser