The Laptop Orchestra and the Network Music Festival


Every self-respecting university music department now has a laptop orchestra, or similar form of LIve GRoup COmputer Performance (LIGROCOP) activity. Many of them are primarily live coding outfits, including Benoit and the Mandelbrots in Karlsruhe DE, HELO in Huddersfield UK, the Cybernetic Orchestra in Hamilton CA, BEER in Birmingham UK and of course the venerable PLOrk in Princeton US.

The second Network Music Festival (NMF; organised by members of the BILE laptop orchestra) is happening  in Birmingham UK, 22-24th February. Laptop orchestras are manifestations of the slightly longer tradition of the network band, and this year’s NMF makes an exciting connection with The Hub, who formed in the late 1970s as the world’s first computer network band.  The Hub are occasionally cited as live coding precursors, and while there are clear parallels, The Hub themselves question this, as they only edit code on stage when they’re forced to fix bugs.

The NMF features a number of live coding acts including Powerbooks Unplugged, Slub and members of Benoit and the Mandelbrots, and will create further connections with sound poetry, installation art and audiovisual performance.

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