“I’ve always had this kind of unique interest in combining sound with code,” Hodnick said. “I don’t look to create something with a catchy melody or a hook. I like to create things that are very dense, rhythmically. Whether that’s layers of rhythms that interact with each other, or something that’s extremely fast and dense and creating sounds that way.”
Hodnick happened across McLean’s Haskell-based Tidal live coding environment, gravitating toward the intuitive, rhythm and pattern-centric nature of Tidal, learning live coding as he corresponded with McLean and other Tidal users over in the U.K. The result is a project called 365 Tidal Patterns, a Tumblr in which Hodnick live codes a new Tidal pattern each day, both to hone his craft and to give people in the Twin Cities an idea of what live coding can be.
A live coding evangelist of sorts, Hodnick recently formed a community and mailing list called the Twin Cities Computer Music group. He has even reached out to local teachers about performing a classroom live coding demo to introduce students to programming, and spoke about live coding at the Twin Cities Code Camp on April 5, where he gave some impromptu performances for attendees between sessions.
“I’m optimistic that I’ll be able to exponentially expose people to live coding and that word will get out,” he said. “Whether it’s people in the Twin Cities or if word spreads elsewhere, I think there’s a lot of potential that programmers and musicians will be interested. I just hope somebody will notice and spread the word.”
A worldwide movement
In November 2012, Griffiths and McLean travelled to Mexico City for the International Live Coding Symposium; Collins had previously attended the Transitio Festival there in 2010. There they were introduced to a vibrant live-coding community and one of its organizers: musician and live coder Alexandra Cárdenas.
“A year or so ago in Mexico City, we had the first international symposium of live coding, and [The National Center for the Arts] invited the guys,” Cárdenas said. “We met them and it was so good for our community to get their opinions on live coding. It opened our horizons and we realized we could do many more things than we thought.”
Cárdenas, who is currently getting a master’s degree in sound studies from the University of the Arts in Berlin, moved from Colombia to Mexico City in 2000 to be a composer and guitarist. Once there, she discovered the open-source software scene and began experimenting with live coding.
Cárdenas live coding at the live.code.festival in Karlsruhe, Germany, in April 2013
“When I perform as an improviser, I create my musical instrument here on the computer,” said Cárdenas. “I imagine the sounds and I have the power and possibility to create and transform them as I want.”
Cárdenas has performed live coding in the U.K., Germany, Norway and Slovenia, and was one of the first live coders to start performing in Tokyo. She was also the keynote speaker at an international live-coding workshop in Chennai, India this past January, bringing it to yet another corner of the world.
Cárdenas’ “A woman and a snake”