Pure Data Mini Conference


The second annual Pure Data Mini Conference took place a little over a week ago and I was lucky enough to have been invited back to present again this year. The conference took place over two days with six presentation the first day, a concert that night and two workshops the second day. I was speaking the first day about my ongoing work with Mobile Music, talking about the prototype app that I’ve put together and some of my ideas about composing for smartphone. All the audio programming for the app is created using the libpd library which allows Pd to be run on smartphones, which was my connection to the conference.

Some of the other speakers on the day included Ricky Graham, who gave a talk about how he uses Pd as part of his hexaphonic guitar practice. Softday, consisting of Mikhael Fernstrom and Sean Taylor, gave a presentation about some of the was they use Pure Data to create music and Ruch Duckworth discussed his creation of an instrument which uses the Bohles-Pierce scale talking about how he programmed the tuning and having to create a custom keyboard that is intuitive to play the scale on.

Two other speakers on the day were Keith Hennigan and Andy Farnell. I was very surprised how close some of the topics they covered were to my own work with Mobile Music. Keith gave a talk about creating music whose mood could be changed by altering the parameters of the music Allowing a listener to hear the same melody with a variety of different moods. This seemed similar to what I presented on as it looked at the idea of making music that is dynamic and could be matched to the listener’s circumstances. He spoke as well about having a continuum of parameter to move through and some of the artistic challenges that this might pose. This is really interesting to me as I think a major challenge for this type of music is artistic. When I interviewed Robert Thomas a while ago he used an interesting quote which I used as part of my presentation on the day:

Roger Ebert says that “no video gamer now living will survive long enough to experience the medium as an art form.” I think interactive music is at a similar stage, the limitations aren’t technical, they’re artistic. We just haven’t evolved it enough, yet.

Andy, who I didn’t know at the time worked with RjDj, presented on the non technical challenges of creating generative music including the artistic considerations and some of the legalities of producing this type of music. (Something which I hadn’t even considered when thinking about this type of music.) His talk ended with an open discussion with everyone there contirbuting to the discussion.

This was the second year of the conference and it was amasing to see how far it has moved in that time. Both years I’ve only been able to attend the first day of the event, so I have yet to make it to the workshops or the conference, but the speaking day has doubled in size in that time. Thanks to Rich Duckworth for organising the conference and to Jenn Kirby for helping out on the day. It was a really great event and a leap forward from last years conference. Here’s hoping next year can be better again.