Group Diary: create a 3min piece where every member controls a different aspect of the sound (note the longer duration for group diaries)

This is the first group diary and the first experience with your new “ensemble” of four or five people. Your main task this week is to start developing a way of working with your ensemble. Don’t leave this to the last minute, working with people takes time.

This is a good time to start thinking about how you could use networks to assist with collaboration by sending information in between the individual laptops in a laptop ensemble. This could involve audio and video data (e.g., connecting via Zoom, Teams, or other tools) or control data.

Network connections are used to connect musicians together from different locations, to connect devices together in one studio, and to connect different pieces of software on one computer. This week you’ll explore how to use networks for collaboration in your laptop music making.

One important concept is the that in terms of what you might send over the network, most data streams can be considered either “control” data or “signal” data. This distinction is present in Pd, with the ~ suffix on signal objects and the “thin” vs “thick” cables. These different types of data streams require different tradeoffs (and therefore different tools) when sending them over the network, so this week’s Resources section has subsections for each type of data stream.

Goals for this week

  1. explore the history (and present) of networked music to see what artists have been doing when they’re connected together, and find out about systems for sending musical data over networks

  2. with your group, design and carry out a collaboration workflow which allows you to deliver a 3min diary entry by the week 5 workshop slot

N.B.: option two could involve using hi-tech network connections, or could involve lo-tech collaborative solutions, or could be in the middle. In any case you will have to use some creativity to develop a collaboration workflow that works for your group.

Resources

Control data: Open Sound Control (OSC) & MIDI

OSC is a great way to send control messages between different audio programming environments.

Here are a couple of YouTube videos which explain things further:

For example code, look at the 3-new-interfaces/5-OSC-in-pd.pd patch in the example repo.

Pd didn’t have OSC built in until relatively recently (v0.46), look at the oscformat and oscparse objects which need netsend and netreceive to work. Older videos will show how to import special libraries for OSC—not needed anymore!

MIDI is the other main standard for this stuff, which is a bit older & less flexible, but it’s supported by every piece of musical hardware under the sun.

For example code, look at the 3-new-interfaces/1-MIDI-in-pd.pd patch in the example repo.

Signal data: sending audio over the network

If you want to send audio signal data (i.e., a stream of bits that’s meant to be interpreted as an audio signal and sent to a DAC at some stage) then there are few different options as well.

Creative Notes

  • how is your group going to meet & chat? if it’s going to be online, then you should get it set up for your first discussion ASAP—if you need us to create a separate Teams channel for you then just ask

  • which parts of the collaborative workflow need to be synchronous, and which parts could be async? do you want to collaborate sequentially, or in parallel?

  • have a look at collaborative “parlour games” like layer tennis or exquisite corpse—can you think of ways to adapt them for a LENS context?

  • what’s the collaborative songwriting process of your favourite bands (or art collectives), and are there ideas you can poach from them?

  • what does networked music even mean? did it exist before computers? when looking for famous examples, how far back can you go? if you find anything cool, drop a link in the #inspo channel on Teams

  • remember that you can send control messages over the network, or audio, or both, or a signal that’s somewhere in between, or something else entirely—be creative!

  • think about the specific network music context you’re dealing with; is it lots of musicians in the same room connected via ethernet to the LAN, or is it a couple of musicians on opposite sides of the globe trying to improvise together in real-time? Can you design your piece to minimise the challenges or emphasise the opportunities provided by this specific networked context?

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