Source code and music notation both seek to provide expressive and
efficient specifications that define the behaviour of systems or agents
over time - be they computers or musicians - for subsequent live,
interactive, or repeatable execution. This workshop looks at the creative
and pedagogical opportunities for notations that draw on and bridge both
programming and musical practices and ontologies. Exploration and
experimentation is supported by the Manhattan music coding environment
(Nash, 2014), which combines a text-based pattern sequencer notation with
spreadsheet formula-style code expressions, enabling a continuum of
musical expression from traditional/manual note arranging to increasingly
algorithmic and generative configurations. With the aid of Sam Aaron,
other technologies that bridge programming and music, such as Sonic Pi,
will also be considered and explored.
Friday May 28, from 12:30 to 15:30
– Welcome and Introductions (15m)
Host and delegates introduce themselves, briefly describing their background and respective areas of interest or expertise.
– Opening Remarks (30m, Chris Nash & Sam Aaron)
Audio/visual presentation with live software examples (e.g. Manhattan, Sonic Pi, Excel, Logic, Max/MSP), highlighting concepts, notations and usability issues in digital music practices or programming language design.
– Initial Questions / Discussion (15m)
Open discussion amongst delegates of the issues raised in the opening presentation, specifically in the context of the delegates’ own experiences and research interests. Used to help frame and guide subsequent interactive sessions.
– Interactive Session 1 (Example Exercises, 45m)
Structured exercises from provided materials, designed to introduce delegates to the fundamentals of the Manhattan tool, while also providing specific examples of programming concepts
(e.g. variables, arrays, iteration, functions, conditional statements) presented in a practical musical context.
– Interactive Session 2 (Experimentation, 60m)
Drawing on and combining their own musical and programming experiences, delegates are invited to join one of two activity groups, both using Manhattan (or other tools, such as Sonic Pi) to experiment with new ideas: Group CM (Code to Music) discusses, explores, and develops musical expressions of ideas from programming or algorithmic / generative music; Group MC (Music to Code) explores the use of formulae to encapsulate traditional music practices, forms, or works (common practice music, MIDI arranging, electronic, folk and popular styles).
- Closing Discussion (15mins)
Brief review of issues and findings (or research questions) that emerged, and call for interest in further research / collaboration.
Chris Nash (principal organizer)
is a professional programmer and composer – currently Senior Lecturer in Music Technology at UWE Bristol, teaching software development for audio, sound, and music (DSP, C/C++, Max/MSP). His research focuses on digital notations, HCI in music, virtuosity, end-user computing, systematic musicology, and pedagogies for music and programming.
Sam Aaron (guest speaker)
is a musician, researcher, and developer at both Cambridge University and the Raspberry Pi Foundation. He is an expert in programming language design and semantics, and creator of the Sonic Pi project, which uses music to engage children and other non-coders in programming. He is an active performing live coder.
Sam Hunt (technical support, recorder)
is a post-graduate researcher at UWE Bristol, currently completing a PhD in music content analysis and generative applications in digital music composition, supervised by Chris Nash.
As an exploration of end-user programming, no specific expertise is required.
However, the workshop would particularly suit people with backgrounds, research interests or experience in:
notation, composition (modern or common-practice), sequencing, programming (usage and semantics),
pedagogy, virtuosity, live coding or usability.
Participants are likely (and encouraged) to bring and use their own laptops, for which software
will be supplied through USB sticks. Participants can retain the software. They should indicate
their preferred OS (OS X or Windows), or whether they need a computer to be provided.
Chris Nash (firstname.lastname@example.org)