New Impromptu screencast and a few lessons learned

Initially this song was called 'Voices Slowly Talk To Me' - then.. as usual.. I lost control of its direction! So I don't know anymore how much the title would apply. Anyways, it's my second experiment with recording an Impromptu performance (by the way I also played it live the other night at the Shunt in London, with various mistakes and delays, but somehow I got to the end - thanks to the toplap crew for their support!).



Livecoding practice: lessons learned

Somehow I'm becoming wiser with doing this type of stuff, you know, just trying to learn from past experiences. So here're a few tips I matured in the last weeks:

  • keep it simple. Especially when playing live. Long and convoluted functions are a giant source of errors especially when you're a bit tense
  • use 'paste' templates. Stuff like the pb:cb function that comes by default with Impromptu. At the beginning I thought it wouldn't look too good, cause you've gotta show that you're coding the whole thing from scratch. But actually, when you're livecoding time is very very precious and what you want to focus on is sound, primarily (well at least this is what I like to do). It's also important to remember that many other environments for live performance are much much higher level than Impromptu - meaning that it's quicker to emit sounds or musical structures and change their properties... so let's make sure we're not comparing apple and oranges here!
  • make variations often. Even if they look stupid to you, change something, add another melody, double the drumkit, stuff like that. The audience is more interested in new audio-visual things happening that in seeing you code a Bach's prelude.
  • exercise a lot. I initially felt weird about this, mainly because playing with Impromptu means coding, and when I code I usually take my time and think. But livecoding transforms the coding practice into a musical performance. Which means that you don't have time to think, things should just come out automatically and sound good. Only then you can take the freedom of 'jamming' without a plan. I play guitar, and that's exactly how it works there... I must have forgotten about it. When playing a song I can't lose time trying to remember how to lay out the fingers on the neck, that has to happen automatically.

That's it for now - I'll touch base again about this when the next live coding performance will happen! Rock on live-coders!

Cite this blog post:

Michele Pasin. New Impromptu screencast and a few lessons learned. Blog post on Published on Oct. 7, 2009.

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