Live Computer Music

The potential of computer music is practically unlimited in the studio, but when transferred to the stage, excessive knob-twiddling can often leave audiences somewhat bemused. So what’s the best way to perform a live gig with a digital rig?

Different Approaches, Different Gear


CDM has an article that shares the viewpoint of several computer-based artists regarding live performance. Included in the shakedown are Daedelus, 8-Bit Weapon, The Flying Skulls and Tim Exile.

Although their gear varies quite a bit, they all agree that live sets are far more involved than simply hitting play and waving their hands about.

The Appearance Of Music

Although it is certainly possible to create fresh and intuitive musical performances using electronic instruments, the crucial point seems to be in getting the audience to connect what you’re doing with what they’re hearing.

In a traditional band, the performers interact with one another – and with the crowd – in a coherent and liquid way, creating a dynamic that provides that unique ‘live’ feel. With synths and laptops, this dynamic is harder to recreate, but the development of new interfaces and digital instruments is gradually bringing computer music to life on stage.

The Ideal Interface

Personally, I found that the addition of the Kore 2 interface and trigger pads/pots/faders to my live performance made the set much more engaging. Even if it may not be obvious exactly what I was doing, at least it was clear that I was doing something…!

However, the most recognisable instrument commonly used by computer musicians is the keyboard, and it is this that can really bridge the gap between old and new technologies.

Here’s a fascinating video which illustrates some of the theory and technique behind a lovely piece of music – “Peace Piece” by Bill Evans. This shows how both repetition and improvisation can be used to generate a truly fluid musical performance…



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