Tanja Busking

Algoraves: Writing Code (Live) is the Newest Way to DJ

Artists throughout dance music work to try new and interesting ways to perform for their audiences. Writing code live, code built to do actions that are just like playing instruments and synths, is now on the list. It’s called algorave.

Featured in a short documentary as part of a running series by The Guardian, algorave is gaining some recognition for its underground style. The term algorave has been around since 2011. But, the genre and community keep themselves far from the mainstream, while still managing to grow.

Algorave is defined as “sounds wholly or predominantly characterized by the emission of a succession of repetitive conditionals.” It’s a take on the definition of “rave music” according to the United Kingdom’s Criminal Justice and Public Order Act of 1994.

Essentially, artists are developing algorithms live and on-the-fly to create the music you hear and the visuals you see. For example, rather than turning a dial to change the length of a delay, they change the milliseconds in the code they’ve written while on stage.

They do this using specific programs, not altogether different than your typical DJ. The difference is that these programs allow for the creation of algorithmic music and visuals. So, artists are able to compose their set utilizing those algorithms, writing the necessary code live, and making adjustments along the way.

The term algorave was coined in 2011 by composer/programmers Alex McClean and Nick Collins. From there, the creation of different programs led to various algorave events developing in 2012. Since then, they haven’t slowed down. From the UK to the US, to Canada, Estonia, and beyond, algoraves in 2017 are taking place across the globe.

As much as algorave is a new way to enjoy music, the avenue for new performers is the most important aspect of the movement.

“Really it’s just a tool. It’s not a genre. It’s a way of making.” – co¥ᄀpt via The Guardian

Whether you have a background in music, or any experience making music at all, isn’t the vital aspect of algorave. If you’re comfortable in front of a code editor or integrated development environment (IDE), you’re closer to being a DJ than you may think. Even if that isn’t the case, algorave is a new way for people from different backgrounds to come together to create and enjoy music.

What are your thoughts on algorave? Should we have such a show in the Northwest?! Comment below, on Facebook, or reply on Twitter!