Notation. Prozess. Musik.

Patrick Borgeat
*1985 in Öhringen (DE), lives and works in Karlsruhe (DE)

»Notation. Prozess. Musik.«
2017, Video presentation and interactive station

»Normally notes are points and lines on the two-dimensional surface of a piece of paper. The notation of the tone sequences is made up of signs on a surface. Nonetheless, these notes are interpreted as a temporal sequence, a chronological order. This is why music is considered the mother of all the time-based arts.«[1]   

In an algorithmic composition, the composers do not directly write a musical score, but rather describe a process with an outcome that can be heard directly. A musical notation can also emerge as an intermediary step, which is in turn interpreted by musicians. The tonal result of an algorithmic composition can be identical every time or can be completely different each time if it is influenced by the artists’ chance decisions or interventions in the process it is running or by changing external factors. The music can also be stretched out temporally to become infinite through repetitions or jumps in the process description. The computer is the suitable instrument for implementing the algorithms. Understood as step-by-step instructions, however, the command sequences can also be handled by people much as cooking recipes are. Deft arrangement of the algorithms can enable highly complex tonal structures – which in many cases were never anticipated when the algorithmic compositions were conceived – to emerge through just a few instructions

This idea is systematically taken further in live coding, with the composition process appearing onstage in this case. The algorithms are written and performed live and with frequent improvisation in the form of programming source texts. Those who are programming live enter into a dialogue with the audience and also with the process that is underway. Live coding should be understood not as a musical genre, but rather as a musical performance practice. The programmers determine the musical result, which can touch on every possible genre, from abstract noise music to jazz to electronic dance music, which is currently enjoying great popularity through the label Algorave. The idea that underlies live coding, however, is not limited to the purely auditory – visuals are also a popular medium for live coding.

Through a multi-channel video presentation of »Notation. Prozess. Musik.« on two walls facing each other at the »Open Codes« exhibition, an arc is traced from traditional notation to algorithmic composition to processual live coding by four renowned artists. Exhibition visitors can also make their own first attempts at live coding at an interactive station.

[1] Peter Weibel, »Zellulare und molekulare Musik – Zur Kluft zwischen zwei Tönen,« in: Peter Weibel, »Enzyklopädie der Medien, Band 2, Musik und Medien«, University of Applied Arts Vienna, ZKM | Karlsruhe, Hatje Cantz, Berlin, 2016, p. 383.


Bernd Lintermann
*1967 in Düsseldorf (DE), lives and works in Karlsruhe (DE)

Julia Gerlach
*1967 in Hannover (DE), lives and works in Frankfurt a. M. (DE) and Berlin (DE)

Peter Weibel
*1944 in Odessa (UA), lives and works in Karlsruhe (DE)

2012, interactive augmented reality installation, AR audio database browser for iPad

The IDEAMA (International digital electro-acoustic music archive) was created in 1990 with the aim of globally protecting the most important early works of electro-acoustic music against deterioration, and make them accessible to the public. The IDEAMA basic collection consists of over a hundred hours of music, which is part of the holdings of the ZKM | Media Library.

»SoundARt IDEAMA« presents selected works from the music archive. At four stations, works from the areas of musique concrète, electronic music, computer music, and music for loudspeakers are staged in special ways and made available to visitors. On a beam showing computer-readable codes, four topics from the IDEAMA database are marked out as examples: for each work a square code – similar to the familiar QR-code – is applicated on the floor as well as an oscillograph of the work. With the aid of an on-site rentable iPad, the work can be experienced, heard, and seen in a 3-D simulation as augmented reality experience as soon as the iPad’s camera registers the code. Here, the iPad functions as a pickup which scans the sound carrier.

Concept: Bernd Lintermann, Julia Gerlach, Peter Weibel
Curator: Hartmut Jörg
Software: Bernd Lintermann
Technical coordination: Manfred Hauffen
Production: ZKM | Institute for Visual Media