A twitter. An SMS. That’s the challenge. Writing a piece of electronic digital music using only 140 chars of code.
It started as a curious project, when live coding enthusiast and Toplap member Dan Stowell started tweeting tiny snippets of musical code using SuperCollider. Pleasantly surprised by the reaction, and “not wanting this stuff to vanish into the ether” he has recently collated the best pieces into a special download for The Wire‘s online readership here.
Of course, to satisfy such a constraint, you need a very compact programming language and SuperCollider is the best choice (see also here). It is an environment and programming language for real time audio synthesis and algorithmic composition. It provides an interpreted object-oriented language which functions as a network client to a state of the art, realtime sound synthesis server.
SuperCollider was written by James McCartney over a period of many years, and is now an open source (GPL) project maintained and developed by various people. It is used by musicians, scientists and artists working with sound. For some background, see SuperCollider described by Wikipedia.
You can listen to all the pieces or download the whole album on this page and also look at the code snippets here. Note that many of these pieces are actually generative, so if you have a working SuperCollider environment and re-run the source code you get a new (i.e. slightly different) piece of music.
The artists notes are here.