This is the project website & blog of MIRLCAuto: A Virtual Agent for Music Information Retrieval in Live Coding, a project funded by the EPSRC HDI Network Plus Grant - Art, Music, and Culture theme.
As a follow-up of the workshops to be held in London (IKLECTIK), Barcelona (L'Ull Cec) and Leicester (Leicester Hackspace), the original plan was to hold three on-site concerts in London (IKLECTIK), Barcelona (Phonos), and Leicester (MTI^2, De Montfort University). Due to the pandemic, we adapted the original idea to what was possible with an emphasis on the online experience.
Leicester MTI2 #
Dirty Dialogues #
Monday, 17 May 2021. PACE (De Montfort University). Organised by MTI^2 (De Montfort University) in collaboration with l'ull cec.
This concert was pre-recorded due to COVID restrictions.
Dirty Dialogues is an encounter between Dirty Electronics Ensemble, Jon.Ogara and Anna Xambó in a free music improvisation session after a long pandemic lockdown. Thirteen musicians on stage combining analogue and digital instruments, acoustic and electronic materials, live coding and DIY sound-making techniques. An intense polymorphic journey of sonic exploration and chaos, which is especially recommended for noise music lovers. This showcase contains the performance and the interview in two separate videos.
John Richards (Dirty Electronics Ensemble) explores the idea of Dirty Electronics that focuses on shared experiences, ritual, gesture, touch and social interaction. In Dirty Electronics, process and performance are inseparably bound. The ‘performance’ begins on the workbench devising instruments and is extended onto the stage through playing and exploring these instruments. Richards is concerned with the performance of large-group electronic music and DIY electronics, and the idea of composing inside electronics, and he has come to consider these activities as a holistic action that he refers to as performance-installation. His work pushes the boundaries between music, performance art, electronics, and graphic design and is transdisciplinary as well as having a socio-political dimension. He has also written numerous texts on DIY practices and performance within electronic music, and object-orientated and material approaches in relation to sound art.
Amit D Patel, aka Dushume (Dirty Electronics Ensemble) is an experimental noise and sound artist, influenced by Asian underground music and DJ culture. His work focuses on performing and improvising with purpose built do-it-yourself instruments, and recording these instruments incorporating looping, re-mixing and re-editing techniques. Lack and loss of control are central to his work. He has a PhD in Music, “Studio Bench: the DIY nomad and Noise Selector” (2019), from the Music, Technology and Innovation Research Centre, De Montfort University, Leicester, UK. He is a member of the Sound/Image Research group at the University of Greenwich, London, and Principal Investigator for the AHRC Research Grant “Exploring Cultural Diversity in Experimental Sound” (2021-23).
Zach Dawson (Dirty Electronics Ensemble): I am a composer-performer based in Shropshire (UK). I release music under the experimental electronic duo 7balcony, co-organise a research series, and co-curate experimental concerts for Post-Paradise Series. I have self-produced singles, EP’s, and albums and performed my work at many festivals and concerts nationally and internationally. Recent highlights; debut album under 7balcony (supported by AHRC, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, distributed by NMC Records), presenting work at NIME 2021, a site-specific performance-installation presented on Zoom, and performances at Ten Acres of Sound, Thinking/Not Thinking, Supersonic Festival, Ideas of Noise Festival, Centrala Art Gallery, and Eastside Projects (Birmingham). I’m currently undertaking my PhD, titled ‘‘x For y Hours’ – Music’s Ontological Status After the Internet’, at University of Birmingham, with cross-institutional support from De Montfort University, and support from AHRC’s Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Partnership.
Robin Foster (Dirty Electronics Ensemble) is a musician and performer from Bristol. His work explores ideas of physicality and viscerality in performance, particularly in noise music. He is currently undertaking a PhD at De Montfort University, exploring ‘rummaging’, the performance practice he developed with Henry Collins in 2013.
Ben Middle (Dirty Electronics Ensemble) is a musician, sound artist and instrument builder from Leicester. Often working under the umbrella term Scrounging Sound, much of his work revolves around hands-on approaches to DIY electronic music making and explores tactility, feedback, noise, sculpture, resourcefulness, sustainability and inconvenience. Alongside his practice as a maker of electronic and electroacoustic instruments, installations and devices, he has also recently cofounded Leicester’s Virtual Ground record label collective, through which he has released music both as a solo artist and as a member of the improvised punk group Snutch.
Jacob Myer Braslawsce (Dirty Electronics Ensemble): American sound-artist Jacob Braslawsce (b. 1998) explores his abounding curiosity with individual experience, self-exploration, dissociation, subconscious and visceral experience in his music. A performer of his own work, Jacob’s experience as both a classically trained musician and a live-electronics performer has inspired him to push the boundaries of gesture, agency, and interaction in both his research and practice. He is concerned with the creation and implementation of practice at the intersection of interactive installation systems, improvisatory performance, sculpture, media and politics. Jacob holds two degrees from Bowling Green State University: a B.M. Performance (Saxophone), and a B.M. Composition. Currently, he is studying at De Montfort University in the pursuit of the M.A. in Music, Technology and Innovation.
Audrey Riley (Dirty Electronics Ensemble) is a cellist and improvising musician, active in contemporary and experimental music since the 1980s. She was a performer with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company (2001-2011) and since 2014 has been undertaking performance-based research as part of the Music, Technology and Innovation Research Centre, De Montfort University, Leicester, UK. She has recently completed her doctoral thesis, an autoethnographic perspective of the music practices experienced with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. She is a member of the Gavin Bryars Ensemble, cellist and music director of Icebreaker, and is a lecturer in Advanced Ensemble Skills and Composition (MMus and BMus) at ICMP, London.
Matt Rogerson (Dirty Electronics Ensemble) is a neurodivergent musician, sound artist and performer based in Leicester (UK), currently undertaking an MRes in Music/Sonic Art at De Montfort University. His research, entitled ‘Sensory Overload: Noise, Mind, Emotion’, investigates ideas pertaining to performance interface, audio-visual viscerality, provocation, incorporeal embodiment and intersectionality mediated by the practice of EEG/Biofeedback performance. In addition, his research assigns primacy towards interdisciplinarity alongside his own lived experience as a person diagnosed with an ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder); in order to broadly inform and augment the associated ideas therein. He holds a BA degree in Music, Technology and Performance from De Montfort University, in addition to accommodating for his musical heritage as a guitarist by engaging in rock, experimental and improvisational ensemble projects.
Harry Smith (Dirty Electronics Ensemble) is a producer, composer and sound designer from Essex; under the moniker Fermata Ark Harry uses field recordings, instrumental improvisations and processed cello to create transcendental noise/punk ambient music that revolves around ideas such as autoethnography and information overload. Harry has worked alongside other like minded composers/improvisers such as Mark Wastell, Valgeir Sigurðsson, Ben Frost, and Bruce Russel, and is also a member of the Leicester based improvised punk band SNUTCH, and is the in-house masterer/mixing engineer for the independent electronic label Virtual Ground. Outside of music Harry works as a sound designer/foley artist for audio documentary and film, specialising in non-diegetic sound design intended to represent the internal world of the characters.
Sam Topley (Dirty Electronics Ensemble) is a sound artist and educator from Leicester (England, UK). She works with textiles to create handmade electronic musical instruments and interactive sound art work, including giant pompom musical instruments, knitted or ‘yarnbombed’ loudspeakers, and ‘craftivist’ musical instruments with e-textile interfaces. Topley is a doctoral candidate at the Music, Technology and Innovation – Institute for Sonic Creativity (MTI2), De Montfort University, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (Midlands3Cities Doctoral Training Partnership.
Sam Warren (Dirty Electronics Ensemble) is a musician and researcher that creates and devises electronic music for contemporary dance. He is interested in the way that a performer can react and embody electronic sounds through movement and gesture. His work explores improvisational techniques and dance for film. A central theme, which emerged during his projects, has been the creation of ‘environment’, as an holistic approach to sound and dance. He has an MRes in Music, “Relationships between Electronic Music and Movement Practice” (2019) from the Music, Technology and Innovation Research Centre, De Montfort University, Leicester, UK.
Jon.Ogara: I started my musical path by learning the flute at school and discovered the delights of classical music. I studied electronics at the University of Manchester with a focus on radio communications. At university, I learnt the guitar and started to create more independent rock music, influenced by bands such as The Fall or Cabaret Voltaire. I discovered the saxophone and Jazz and started to bring together ideas of Jazz improvisation into my composition. I have studied Jazz with Nik Weldon at the JazzSchool in Rushden. With the development of the internet and connected devices, I started to explore the world of experimental music and started to share ideas and compositions.
https://allopenelectrics.com/ | https://soundcloud.com/allopenelectrics
Anna Xambó is a Senior Lecturer in Music and Audio Technology at De Montfort University, a member of Music, Technology and Innovation - Institute of Sonic Creativity (MTI2), and an experimental electronic music producer. Her research and practice focus on sound and music computing systems looking at novel approaches to collaborative, participatory, and live coding experiences. She is PI of the EPSRC HDI Network Plus funded project "MIRLCAuto: A Virtual Agent for Music Information Retrieval in Live Coding", investigating the use of a live coder virtual agent and the retrieval of large collections of sounds.
Sam Roig (interviewer): Since 2006, helped by a fuzzy network of collaborators, Sam Roig has been directing l'ull cec, a cultural organization that has produced a wide assortment of public events and artistic projects related to sonic arts and experimental music, as well as dissemination activities around audio technology topics related to these disciplines. He is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Huddersfield.
Barcelona Phonos #
Different Similar Sounds: A Live Coding Evening "From Scratch" #
Thursday, 29 April 2021 at 19.30 GMT. Sala Aranyó (Campus UPF Poblenou). Free access with invitation. Organised by Phonos in collaboration with TOPLAP Barcelona and l'ull cec.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, this event had a capacity of 15 people, who assisted with an invitation.
- Phonos event webpage
- Phonos YouTube Channel of the event
- Different Similar Sounds "From Scratch": A Conversation with Ramon Casamajó, Iván Paz, Chigüire, and Roger Pibernat
- Different Similar Sounds: An Interview with Iván Paz
- Different Similar Sounds: An Interview with Iris Saladino
- Different Similar Sounds: An Interview with Ramon Casamajó
- Different Similar Sounds: An Interview with Hernani Villaseñor
In live coding, the technique called “from scratch” consists of playing live for 9 minutes starting from an empty screen. At the end of the performance all the attendants have to clap no matter the result! From scratch sessions visualize the programming languages at high or low level (try to play from scratch using, for example, Tidal, SuperCollider or Csound) and the tools (classes, functions, data structures, etc.) that allow the livecoder to carry out the different tasks within the performance. These sessions take advantage of the time and the empty screen restriction to explore new possibilities.
MIRLCa is a SuperCollider extension developed by Anna Xambó as part of the EPSRC HDI Network Plus Grant project “MIRLCAuto: A Virtual Agent for Music Information Retrieval in Live Coding”. The system is a follow-up of the also self-built SuperCollider extension MIRLC. MIRLCa combines machine learning algorithms with music information retrieval (MIR) techniques to retrieve crowdsourced sounds from the online database Freesound.org, which results in a sound-based music style. The tool was explored during a workshop co-organised with l’ull cec in collaboration with TOPLAP Barcelona in January 2021.
In this session, four live coders associated to TOPLAP (Ramon Casamajó, Roger Pibernat, Iván Paz, and Chigüire) use MIRLCa “from scratch”, adapting the library to their particular approaches and aesthetics.
TOPLAP Barcelona is a collective that practices and promotes live coding as a sound and visual creation technique, generating a technological appropriation through the use and development of free and open software focused on generating relationships and own discourses. TOPLAP Barcelona aims to be an open space that challenges the existing narratives of the female participation in the technical fields of music technology and computer science. For Toplap, live coding is a form of performing art and a creativity technique focused on the real-time writing of source code and the use of interactive programming, it is a new direction in electronic music, it is improvising and formalizing in public. Live coders expose and modify the software in real time, generating music and/or images, while the manipulation of the code is projected to allow viewing the process. Live coding works in all musical genres, and due to the elements that compose it -art, science and technology- it also configures a social and political discourse.
Ramon Casamajó is a musician and computer scientist. QBRNTHSS (pronounced “quebrantahuesos”, meaning “bearded vulture” in Spanish) is the alias that he uses for his solo works focused on electronics and live coding. As QBRNTHSS has released a split LP (Harry Dean Stanton, Call It Anything Records 2019), and participates in algoraves, sessions and workshops organized by the TOPLAP Barcelona collective, with which he is actively involved. He has participated in online events hosted by the international TOPLAP community and some festivals. He is part of Turing Tarpit, a duet with whom has released several works and played regularly in Barcelona’s experimental underground circuit. He also runs the micro record label Call It Anything Records.
Iván Paz. With backgrounds in physics, music and computer science, Iván Paz‘s work is framed in critical approaches to technology centered around from-scratch construction as an exploratory technique. Since 2010, he has been part of the live coding community and has presented workshops, conferences and concerts around America and Europe.
Roger Pibernat. Graduate in Pataphysics and Doctor in the Philosophy of the Absurd, Roger lives parallel lives in dreamland and wakeland. Obsessed with all things oneiric, recursive, self-referencial and feedback loops, he's constantly in search of new ways to bend and transcend logic. Professional illustrator and luthier aficionado, he joined the Barcelona Laptop Orchestra, and co-founded the Wú collective with whom he has developed several electroacoustic instruments, electrovisual shows and experimental software. He is driven by the principle: “not knowing how something is done is a good reason to do it,” which keeps him on the edge of hysteria and baldness.
Chigüire. Hailing from the valley of Caracas, Venezuela, Chigüire is a multimedia artist interested in the dialogue between humans and machines. Although they have spent much time using computers as crude tool to earn money to survive, they found a calling in live coding and computer art in general. Despite being one of the newest participants of TOPLAP Barcelona, they quickly found a home there, and a place to grow in the art of making computers draw and sing, with the hopes of someday getting them to tell us their secrets.
Similar Sounds: A Virtual Agent in Live Coding #
Two performances and a Q&A panel #
Saturday, 12 December 2020 from 14:00-15:00 GMT. Organised by IKLECTIK.
Two performances by Anna Xambó (De Montfort University) and Gerard Roma (University of Huddersfield) respectively and a follow-up Q&A panel with the two musicians and Iván Paz (TOPLAP), moderated by Sam Roig (L’Ull Cec). The audience is invited to ask questions on the YouTube Live Chat.
Gerard Roma is a musician and music technology researcher from Barcelona. He performs and releases electronic music under different aliases. His music often involves sound databases, processed field recordings and general audio mangling, either via live coding or visual exploration. His work has been presented in Spain, UK, USA, Ireland, Norway and Germany.
Anna Xambó is a Senior Lecturer in Music and Audio Technology at De Montfort University and an experimental electronic music producer. Her research and practice focus on new interfaces for music performance looking at live coding, collaborative and participatory music systems, and multichannel spatialisation. Her solo and group performances have been presented internationally in Denmark, Germany, Norway, Spain, Sweden, UK and USA. To date, she has released three solo recordings: “init” (2010, Carpal Tunnel), “On the Go” (2013, Carpal Tunnel) and “H2RI” (2018, pan y rosas.
Iván Paz studied physics and mathematics at the National Autonomous University of México (UNAM). During this time, he also experimented with music and photography. His main interests involve science, art, technology, and how their interactions can create new aesthetic, conceptual and thinking directions. In 2006 Iván started working as an audio engineering professor. From this process, in 2011 he conceived and leaded a seminar in mathematical methods applied to music composition at UNAM. The activity developed there, produced several collaborations and working processes, for example live coding sessions in collaboration with the National Centre of the Arts of México (NCA). His current work involves artificial intelligence methodologies for the study of musical features and parameter spaces exploration of generative systems. Iván Paz is currently member of TOPLAP Barcelona.
Sam Roig. Since 2006, helped by a fuzzy network of collaborators, Sam Roig has been directing l'ull cec, a cultural organization that has produced a wide assortment of public events and artistic projects related to sonic arts and experimental music, as well as dissemination activities around audio technology topics related to these disciplines. He is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Huddersfield.