Solo Diary: Think about the topology of your final performance and sketch out a minimum example of how different data sources can connect. You don’t have to use multiple computers/performers in your sketch, just create multiple patches in Pd or code blocks in gibber and create a simple 1-minute musical example of how information flows between them. If you’re thinking of creating visuals as well as music, now is a good time to try out a first idea!

“Topology” is the way in which a set of things is connected or arranged. In the context of computer music, we can imagine a performance involving connections between different performers, computers, interfaces, audience members, etc.

This week we’ll zoom out and think about the topology of a laptop ensemble performance. We will particularly think about what the topology of your final performance is, and what you might be able to do to make it more interesting.

Before this week’s workshop, have a think about:

  • what are the components of your final gig topology? this includes people (your ensemble-mates, audience), software (Pd, Gibber, Processing, web things) hardware (laptops, midi controllers, Goon-a-trons) and the infrastructure required to connect them all

  • what are the flows of information in this topology? this includes audio signals (both digital and carried over wires, plus what’s coming out of the PA loudspeakers), data/control messages (MIDI, OSC, FB Messenger chats), visual information (HDMI streams, data projectors and audience eyeballs, non-verbal communication protocols you set up with your ensemble-mates)

Goals for this week

  1. to think about how multiple performers in your piece will work together

  2. to think about the parts of your final performance and how they fit together

Resources

This is mostly pointers to things we’ve already covered, but hopefully these are helpful reminders of the things you already know. Also, these are some good suggestions about ways to do things, but they’re not iron-clad rules. If you’re unsure about the best way to achieve your creative goals, discuss it with the rest of your class during the workshop slot.

Code

  • most of you folks must have tried Gabber for a live collaborative music performance and know the joy and pain :)

  • alternatively, manually sharing code through a chat window (which is displayed to the audience) can be fine (great, even!) but still requires some careful thought

Data/control messages

Software

  • OSC (in Pd, js) is probably going to be your best bet for sending data/control messages between pieces of software, especially if you want to do it over a network

Software/hardware

  • if you’re trying to connect a piece of hardware (i.e. a MIDI controller) to a piece of software, then MIDI might be a good option if both “ends” of the connection can speak MIDI (less flexible than OSC, but most musical hardware devices speak MIDI by default, and only the more esoteric ones speak OSC)

Networking (hardware)

  • if you can manage it (i.e. if all the devices have Ethernet ports) then using a simple wired router/switch is the most stable way to connect things, and then just typing in the IP addresses manually (there are usually few enough devices that this manual process isn’t too tiresome)

  • if you need wireless connections (i.e. you’ve got mobile devices involved) then using a separate wireless LAN (with no devices on it other than the ones you need for your performance) is the next best thing—much safer than trying to use the gig venue’s (or ANU’s) wifi

We will provide a wireless + wired router for the final performance. You should make it clear in your technical rider whether your piece requires wired or wireless internet router.

Video

  • video mixing can be done either in software (using OBS) or (by default) hardware (using the LENS’s ATEM Mini Extreme

  • You are able to tell us how the video should appear, i.e., which video inputs should be displayed. The video mixing possibilities of the ATEM Mini Extreme are pretty extreme (e.g., four inputs up in boxes and one input used as a background)

Audio

  • as discussed in week 5 there are several ways to send audio over the network, but (as you also figured out in putting together your week 5 diary) some of them are hard to get working

  • we’ll have a mixing desk at the gig and provide a 3.5mm audio connector for each performer.

  • audio from the HDMI inputs will also be mixed

  • if you want a line in to your machine (e.g. a mixdown of the output of the other participants) then there are ways to handle audio input in Pd/Gibber

Creative Notes

  • you still get to exercise your own creative agency in your diary—you get to select which specific aspect(s) of your classmates’ work you’ll try and pay homage to

  • sketch out a diagram of the flows of audio/code/control messages/visuals/human communication in your planned LENS performance—if you have any questions about how to make it happen (either technically or aesthetically) then now is a good chance to ask them

  • how are the audience going to perceive what you’re doing? are there flows of information you can add (or remove) from your topology to communicate more clearly with your audience?

In-Class Activity: Explaining your topology

The goal of this activity is to clarify for yourself what roles everybody in your ensemble will play and to know what your job will be in each performance with your group.

  1. In 10 minutes, write down what everybody in your group is supposed to do in your piece (as far as you know today)—diagrams encouraged.

  2. Split into performance groups.

  3. Explain roles to everybody else in your performance group.

  4. Other people in the group: If it’s not clear what you are supposed to do in each performance, ask for more details until you know!

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