Live Coding: A User's Manual

Posted by Thor Magnusson on November 24, 2022

Live coding has been an active force in new music since the early 2000s. A few years ago, Alan Blackwell, Geoff Cox, Emma Cocker, Alex McLean and myself got together to work on a book on live coding. A user’s manual we imagined it, a handbook, a reference into the theoretical and technical frameworks that circumvent the practice.

The book is now out on MIT Press, and find further information about open access here.

Performative, improvised, realtime, on the fly: live coding is about how people interact with the world and each other via code. In the last few decades, live coding has emerged as a dynamic creative practice, gaining attention across cultural and technical fields—from music and the visual arts to computer science. In live coding the composition happens in realtime, where performers can communicate via sound, visuals, robotic and human movements, or basically anything that can be controlled. In live coding the instructions, the code, is communicated too, typically projected on a screen for the audience to follow, should they be interested.

Live Coding: A User’s Manual is the first comprehensive introduction to the practice and a broader cultural commentary on the potential for live coding to open up deeper questions about contemporary cultural production and computational culture. The book provides a practice-focused account of the origins, aspirations, and evolution of live coding, including expositions from a wide range of live coding practitioners. In a more conceptual register, the book engages with how liveness, temporality, and knowledge relates to live coding, as well as speculating upon the future of the practice.

Check it out in open access here.

(c) 2016-2022 Þórhallur Magnússon, Thorhallur Magnusson, Thor Magnusson
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