Algoraves have been described as the meeting point between hacker philosophy, geek culture and clubbing. Many of the performers are live coders, but all forms of algorithmic music are welcome, unlike the more narrow focus of a live coding concert.

The first algorave took place in March 2012 as a warm-up concert for the 2012 SuperCollider Symposium, an international gathering of SuperCollider users (one of the original and most popular IDEs for live coding and algorithmic composition). Among the performers were Slub and Sick Lincoln.

Algorave Sheffield

An algorave in Sheffield, U.K. on November 2013 (photo courtesy of www.underyourskinphoto.co.uk)

“I find it a bit bizarre actually these days, because in my mind I’m still somewhere in London in a converted public toilet that has been turned into a bar where there’s only an audience of 25 people,” Collins said. “There’s one really dodgy projector, and you’re trying to play on a really battered sound system. So actually having real music festivals, wanting to have proper club nights of live coding or algoraves, sometimes it’s a little odd… The quirkiness of it keeps it vibrant as a subculture.”

Collins, currently a professor of computer music at Sussex University in the U.K., has done extensive research into live coding and algorithmic music on top of some Web and mobile app development of his own. He’s also been active in developing and maintaining SuperCollider.

A live coder making waves in the U.S.
Live coding has spread to many countries around the world, but it hasn’t quite taken hold in the U.S. Not yet, at least. There are scattered live coders across America, some in New York and California, and some in places you wouldn’t expect.

Mike Hodnick is an independent software developer and live coder living in Minneapolis, where the midsized metropolitan area houses both a growing technology sector and a thriving arts and music scene. The live-coding community is only in its infancy, but if Hodnick has his way, the Twin Cities may well become a hotbed for live coding and algoraves.

“There’s a healthy arts community here, whether that’s galleries or experimental music, and we do have a very healthy programming community as well,” Hodnick said. “So we’ve got the right circumstances, it just needs a little bit of nurturing.”

Hodnick, a veteran C# and .NET programmer and JavaScript Web developer, had no idea what live coding was until this past Thanksgiving. A lifelong drummer and electronic musician, a friend turned him onto live coding and the algoraves going on in Europe, and he’s been going full steam ever since.