Gig Report: The adoration may not be universal

BiLe had two gigs yesterday but I’m just going to talk about the second one. However, first I’m going to talk about some gigs I played a few years ago. One was a cafe gig, or possible several cage gigs. They tend to blend together. I was playing tuba with some free improvisers, including the owner of the cafe. A bunch of people were there talking, we started to play and just about everybody left.
It’s slightly uncomfortable, but it’s well known to anybody who has ever played in a cafe. And there have been times when I’ve meant to have a cup of coffee and talk with friends and then, rather than talk over the music, we’ve moved on when it started. At other times, I’ve been happily surprised by live music and there have been many times I’ve gone out to a cafe specifically to hear the music that was programmed.
The other was in 2004 and I had just started doing live computer pieces in SuperCollider, but they were not interactive, they were live realisations. (I called them “press the button” pieces.) I was testing out a new one at an open mic night at a restaurant. My friend had organised the evening and asked me to play, but it was me and all acoustic guitars. It was a very early version of the piece and it still had some major aesthetic problems, which became glaringly apparent as it played. Many people in the room left to go home over the course of the piece. It was not a cafe, it was a restaurant. People had plates of food in front of them which they apparently abandoned during the longest 11 minutes of my life. (I blogged about this at the time.)
A few things happened as a result of this. One was that a busboy came out and game me a thumbs up, I’m pretty sure because he liked the music, but you never know. Another was that I instantly got much more respect from my colleagues at the university. For my own part, I pledged to become more aware of how listeners may respond to pieces I was working on to try to prevent a repeat of this. And finally, I learned the value of playing things in front of people as part of the path to finishing a piece.
The reasons for the increased respect from my colleagues is slightly complex. Part of it was simple elitism, but I think a part of it was an encouragement to take risks. Being likeable is not enough. Some fantastic music is loved upon first listening. But a lot is hated. A lot of fantastic an important pieces caused riots on their first playing. 4’33” by John Cage, Rite of Spring by Stravinsky and Ballet Mecanique by George Antheil are all well-known examples of this. Of course, causing an uproar does not mean that you’re good. You could just be terrible. But it does mean you’re taking a risk.
Of course, I tend to blunder into risks blindly and be caught a bit by surprise.


Localities can put on their own, independent TED conferences. One in Birmingham decided to invite BiLE and despite having a gig already lined up the same morning, we agreed to to play.
I’d been at the LoveBytes festival in Sheffield (which was excellent) the day before and stayed over. Alas, it turned out that the reason that my hotel room was so cheap was because it was directly over a Reggae club. I think my room must have been right over the bass amp. One song was in the same key as the resonant frequency of the door frame. We woke up early yesterday morning, played a set at a headphone concert at the LoveBytes Festival, and then got on a train back to Birmingham and got to the MAC centre just in time to set up and play another set at TEDx
We waited nervously back stage for our turn, filed in and started to play XYZ by Shelly Knotts. For some reason, there was a lot of crashing. Chris missed the entire piece, trying to recover from a crash. Julien and Shelly both crashed mid-piece, but were able to recover quickly. I did not crash, but I’m the last to come in. It was sparse and a bit stressful, but we got through it. We’ve played that piece a lot previously. It’s not our first piece, but it’s the first we proposed, as we spent our first-ever meeting writing a vague proposal to NIME last year and this was the piece that we played there.
Then we played Sonnation 2 by Julien Guillamat. We’ve only played that piece a couple of times before, but it’s not difficult. I forgot to plug in my faders and spent the first two minutes trying to figure out what was wrong and then recovering, so it also had some sparseness. The end was not as tight as it could be and I smiled a bit at the error, but then it was over and we filed back off stage.
We always have problems with having the right sort of game face for playing live. I’ve been working on my posture, but we still sometimes slip into head resting on arm with elbow on the table. And I should have kept a straight face at the end. I typed some lines into the speech synthesiser to announce piece titles, which is something I’ve seen other bands do at laptop concerts. I have mixed feelings about it. It seemed better than not engaging at all (which is what we usually do, alas) and we didn’t have a microphone.
Afterwards, we went outside to wait for the talks to end so we could break down our gear. It was then that somebody pulled out their smart phone to check Twitter.


The tweets are below in chronological order (oldest first). While it was clear the performance had some technical issues, it had not seemed unusual in any way. We picked pieces that I thought would be accessible. XYZ has computer game elements, including players competing for control of sound parameters and lo-fi game-ish graphics. Sonnations also seems accessible in that is uses live sampling of metallic instruments, something that has worked with Partially Percussive and because it has a physically performative element at the end. Plus it gets nice sounds.
It may be that the difference between reactions to Sonnations and, say, Partially Percussive may have to do with managing audience reactions in some way. The bells do sound nicer than the kitchen hardware, but, because they look like instruments, the audience may be expecting something much more conventionally tonal. They resonances of the metal bowls might be a nice surprise vs the cow bell sounds might be slightly disappointing. Of course, it’s even more likely that the audience would have found the use of kitchen objects to be unbearably pretentious. It may have been better to play Act 2 of the Laptopera as the second piece. It sounds weirder, but the obvious references to spam email, especially the penis-enlargement ones are funny and may have engaged them. Or maybe not. It’s hard to know.
We’re playing at the symphony hall in May and this does have me a bit worried in that I would not have predicted these crashes and I don’t know what caused them. And I’m worried that we might be too brutal for fans of minimalism. It’s caught on much more than other genres of 21st century art music and appeals to a mainstream audience. Just because an audience wants to be challenged a bit, doesn’t mean they want what we do.
On the other hand, as somebody who often specialises in noise music, I’ve never expected to get mass approval or even approval from the majority of people at any given gig. Probably the only exception here is that I’m not usually as directly exposed to audience reaction. And, indeed, there were people who liked it. So maybe it’s a storm in a teacup? It’s impossible to get perspective on things from the stage, as it were.


  • About to find out what a laptop ensemble is at #TEDxBrum @EskimoDalton
  • And the laptop ensemble are (is?) using macbook pros, because they’re the best kind of laptops #ilovemac #tedxbrum @Dr_Bob82 (replies)
  • Oh…it’s BILE! Ha! #TEDxBrum @EskimoDalton
  • What a treat. Watch the bham laptop ensamble being streamed live on #tedxbrum websire now x @JoyOfFengShui
  • Using iphone as a sound control device – motion control + music = electro-weirdness! #tedxbrum @Dr_Bob82
  • It’s like being stuck INSIDE A LAPTOP right now #tedxbrum @Dr_Bob82
  • i got a headache can we get @Flutebox on pls? #tedxbrum @tedxbrum @Flutebox @aerosolali
  • The Birmingham Laptop Ensemble. It could only come out of the University of Birmingham. #tedxbrum #notforme @mrmarksteadman
    • @mrmarksteadman 🙂 @carolinebeavon
    • @carolinebeavon I’m sure it’s all really clever, but just a tad self-indulgent for me @mrmarksteadman
    • @mrmarksteadman I agree. No real musical quality from what I can tell … But then, I went to BCU 😉 @carolinebeavon
    • @carolinebeavon That’s kinda my point! Good, no-nonsense uni 😉 Sad to have missed @flutebox; will defo check out the @civicolive replay @mrmarksteadman
    • @mrmarksteadman yup. They were great. This … Hmmmm, not a fan @carolinebeavon
    • @carolinebeavon Guess you had to be there. Oh no, you are, sorry. And it continues. *sigh* mrmarksteadman
    • @mrmarksteadman let me out!!!!! 🙂 @carolinebeavon
    • @carolinebeavon OH GOD IT’S SO SMUG! I CAN’T TAKE HOW PLEASED THEY ARE WITH THEMSELVES! (Sorry… just… yeah, sorry.) #tedxbrum @mrmarksteadman
  • Not getting the laptop ensemble – will try harder #tedxbrum @mrspicto
  • I was expecting some form of 8bit electro music. This is not that. #tedxbrum @JAWilletts
  • I think the computers have taken over #tedxbrum @dorvago
  • Very impressive technically, although not sure if it’s supposed to be music? #tedxbrum @Dr_Bob82
    • @Dr_Bob82 BiLE = sound art ?! @PostFilm
    • @PostFilm I’d agree that it was ‘sound’ but never been a fan of electro-music 🙂 @Dr_Bob82
    • @Dr_Bob82 sound art: I guess it’s just a matter of taste. You don’t hang someone for not liking coffee, anchovies, or cucumber @PostFilm
    • @PostFilm It’s definitely a matter of taste, although occasionally I have felt socially ostracised for not liking coffee 😉 @Dr_Bob82
    • @Dr_Bob82 harmony, melody, rhythm are culture- and time-specific; but electroacoustic is so broad now that it’s difficult to generalise @PostFilm
  • @BiLEnsemble > visually Kraftwerk/Modified Toy Orchestra minus suits, audibly Aphex Twin via laptops & remote controls. Madness! #TEDxBrum @asmallfurrybear
  • #TEDxBrum Bored already @Keybored_KATz
  • Horrible feeling that this isn’t going down as expected… Please, some melody for the love of god!! #tedxbrum @Dr_Bob82
  • #TEDxBrum Trying to be positive – but really – pass the paracetamol @Pictoontwit
  • Birmingham Laptop Ensemble – using interference to create music! #tedxbrum @CerasellaChis
  • #TEDxBrum I feel very old right now. @Stephen_Griffin
  • It’s like a game, where I don’t know the rules and can’t tell if it’s glitching or not. #tedxbrum @JAWilletts
  • Think there’s some sort of Kinect-type deal going on here as well with controlling the ‘music’ #tedxbrum @Dr_Bob82
  • No, sorry I tried but not for me ( laptop ensemble) #TEDxBRUM @mrspicto
  • somebody pls where is nathan @Flutebox come back pls! #tedxbrum @aerosolali
  • #TEDxBrum can Flutebox come back on please @Pictoontwit
  • #tedxbrum not sure what to make of this music @simonjenner
  • @BiLEnsemble > a possible contender for @supersonicfest 2012 line up? #TEDxBrum @asmallfurrybear
  • nah not for me… Seems too out of control & random…“@vixfitzgerald: I don’t get it #TEDxBrum Birmingham laptop ensemble 🙁 ??” @Soulsailor
  • Like War of the Worlds meets Aphex Twin meets an over-enthusiastic computer geek #tedxbrum @Dr_Bob82
  • Anyone else not got a clue what’s going on? Even the performers look disinterested! Smile and nod, smile and nod… #TEDxBrum @MykWilliams
  • Its getting an interesting Twitter reaction. Not sure whether it’s quite a bit too revolutionary. #tedxbrum @JAWilletts
  • As if my head didn’t hurt enough from all the ideas #TEDxBrum crammed in, BiLE start their intense sonic assault @orangejon
  • Birmingham Laptop Ensemble at #TEDxBrum @stanchers
  • #TEDxBrum that made Kraftwerk look pedestrian Stephen_Griffin
  • Birmingham Laptop Orchestra. Industrial grunge synth from the 70s. A little to atonal for me. #tedxbrum @DaveSussman
  • Please. Melody. Just a little bit. I won’t tell the experimentalist musicians that you did it #tedxbrum @Dr_Bob82
  • Amazing stuff around here. 🙂 #TEDxBrum @CerasellaChis
  • Talk amongst yourselves. #tedxbrum @mrmarksteadman
  • #TEDxBrum I am sure there mothers are very proud – I am now reflecting on the value or otherwise of a University education @Pictoontwit
  • I feel like this needs an explanation #TEDxBrum @chargedatom
  • Hmm sorry but please don’t “play” another “track” /Birmingham laptop Ensemble ;-( #WTF #TEDxBrum @Soulsailor (replies)
  • WE NEED MOAR COWBELL!: #tedxbrum Dr_Bob82
  • …but i do like the guys stickers on his laptop…. #tedxbrum @aerosolali
  • #TEDxBrum the power of social media – and when you die on your feet even faster @Pictoontwit
  • Really not feeling Laptop Ensemble.I’m afraid at #TEDxBrum even they look bored. @carolinebeavon
  • Wouldn’t it be better to just plug an iPod in. #tedxbrum @dorvago
  • The cowbell is a way too understated instrument, let’s get the cowbell trending too! #TEDxBrum #morecowbell @TEDxBrum
  • Is it possible to rehearse this? #seriousquestion #TEDxBrum @chargedatom
    • @chargedatom I think they’re winging it. Most UoB students do 😉 @Dr_Bob82
  • @BiLEnsemble it’s interesting to watch here in the MAC. Physical meets digital, theres so much that could go wrong, it’s working!! #tedxbrum @Ben_R_Murphy
  • If we don’t get more cowbell, we may as well all go home #cowbell #tedxbrum @Dr_Bob82
  • Who spiked my drink with acid? Is this real? #TEDxBrum @craiggumbley
  • I for one, was happy to have #8bit of silence ¦-) #bless RT @mrmarksteadman Talk amongst yourselves. #tedxbrum @Jacattell
  • #TEDxBrum the emperor’s new laptop? @Stephen_Griffin
  • I’m now imagining myself in a rainforest. Away from this. Far away. #tedxbrum @Dr_Bob82
  • #TEDxBrum PLEASE STOP @Pictoontwit
  • Britain ‘s not got talent sorry #TEDxBrum @vixfitzgerald
  • One of them must be checking the twitter feed #tedxbrum #multitasking @dorvago
  • Oh dear twitter generated laughter in danger of breaking out now. At least it is a more positive effect than i expected #tedxbrum @mrspicto
  • Ah, so they played instruments at the start, recorded them, now they’ve digitised and resampled them and are playing them back #tedxbrum @Dr_Bob82
  • I’m not at #TEDxBrum, but finding the tweets about the “Laptop Ensemble” hilarious. It sounds dreadful (but I bet you all clap at the end). @editorialgirl
  • Ordered chaos; #LOVEIT! MT @Soulsailor nah not for me… Seems too out of control & random… /cc @vixfitzgerald #TEDxBrum @Jacattell
  • #morecowbell #lesscowbell would it make a difference?? #TEDxBrum @chargedatom
  • Massive TUNE! #tedxbrum @n_chalmers
    • @n_chalmers will buy u the CD for ur bday! #tedxbrum @J_K_Schofield
    • @n_chalmers going to download this one after for sure @kathpreston1
  • Twitter is my outlet. Can’t keep straight face. #TEDxBrum @karldoody
  • No one said innovation was going to be easy, right? #TEDxBrum @TEDxBrum
  • #TEDxBrum Warming to BiLE – snugly weird. @Stephen_Griffin
    • @Stephen_Griffin Was that smugly weird? #tedxbrum @Dr_Bob82
  • So now the track is on a loop and they’re playing along ‘in real time’ with it. Except it sounds… well… it’s finished now #tedxbrum @Dr_Bob82
  • Balls. #tedxbrum @mrmarksteadman
  • #TEDxBrum …. Laptop Ensemble … Seriously … Is that it 😉 @shuhabtrq
  • I want to see more people preoccupied with the stuff BiLE is doing. #TEDxBrum @CerasellaChis
  • Well I liked it… #TEDxBrum @stanchers
  • Brilliant performance from Laptop Ensemble BiLE – enjoyed watching and listening to them on the live stream #TEDxBrum @PostFilm
  • thinks BiLE upset some #tedxbrum delegates who did not want to open up to sound art and opportunity for digital experimentation @PostFilm
  • Skimmed the #TEDxBrum stream – if that sad reaction to @BiLEnsemble is accurate reflection of audience vibe I’m glad I’m not there. @peteashton
    • @peteashton Actually the reception to it IN THE ROOM in the real world was warm. The dissenters were vocal on Twitter. Go figure. @helgahenry
    • @peteashton We don’t know how much info (if any) was given to the audience about what they were listening to. Tweets sounded… surprised. @editorialgirl
    • @editorialgirl Indeed. I just don’t think I’d enjoy being in an audience which is surprised in that way by their work. Which is fine. @peteashton
    • @peteashton if it’s any consolation at all, I was there, at TEDxBrum & I enjoyed BiLE. New to me, a surprise, yes, but in a good way! @KendaLeeG
  • @hellocatfood I think you v can now legitimately claim to be a misunderstood artist now! The #TedxBrum audience just weren’t ready for you. @AndyPryke
  • @gregmcdougall there was a random laptop music segment that didn’t work for me then more awesomeness #TEDxBrum @Soulsailor
  • for me ‘sound art’ is part of the creative “T” in TED. More radical digitral sonic experimentation please from BiLE #tedxbrum @PostFilm
  • Oddest moment today: watching @BiLEnsemble use modern technology to give the audience a scarily accurate experience of tinnitus. #tedxbrum @catharker
  • #tedxBrum @BiLEnsemble have potential. I heard some cool sounding stuff and was a little jazzy. Maybe mix with instruments/samples/beats? @RenewableSave
  • i see bile at #tedxbrum has caused some controversy. i don’t think any performer has an inherent right to have their performance liked. @simonjgray
    • (& i type this as somebody who has made music which is well far from being universally liked. #tedxbrum ) @simonjgray
  • Really enjoyed playing at #lovebytes and #tedxbrum yesterday… as well as the post-TED discussion 😉 @BiLEnsemble
    • @BiLEnsemble and we enjoyed you! @TEDxBrum, out of interest, was the #lovebytes performance different? @Ben_R_Murphy
    • @BiLEnsemble well done BiLE performing at #tedxbrum !!!! @InterFace_2012
  • @celesteh obvious there were probs at #TEDxBrum, but I enjoyed the pieces – although was brought up on Harvey’s “Mortuos Plango, Vivos Voco” @davidburden
  • BiLE Blog #tedxbrum @PostFilm
  • BiLE’s last piece at #TEDxBrum Quietat points so some mobile signal interference. @Acuity_Design

Press Release

Download PDF

Birmingham’s first Network Music Festival 27-29th January.

For immediate release: 24th January 2011

Birmingham’s first Network Music Festival presents hi-tech music performances from local and international artists.

On 27-29th January 2012 the first Network Music Festival will showcase some of the most innovative UK and international artists using networking technology. Presenting a broad spectrum of work from laptop bands, to live coding, to online collaborative improvisation, to modified radio networks, audio-visual opera and iPhone battles, Network Music Festival will be a weekend of exciting performances, installations, talks and workshops showcasing over 70 artists!

Network Music Festival are working alongside local organisations Friction Arts, SOUNDkitchen, BEAST, Ort Cafe and The Old Print Works and PST/Kismet in order to bring this new and innovative festival to Birmingham.

With 20 performances, 5 installations, 5 talks and a 2 day work Network Music Festival will be a vibrant and diverse festival presenting musical work where networking is central to the aesthetic, creation or performance practice. Acts include: Live-coding laptop quartet Benoit and the Mandelbrots (Germany); algorithmic music duo Wrongheaded (UK), transatlantic network band Glitch Lich (UK/USA) and home grown laptop bands BiLE (Birmingham Laptop Ensemble) and BEER (Birmingham Ensemble for Electroacoustic Research) as well as many more local, UK, European and international acts programmed from our OPEN CALL for performances, installations and talks.

If that’s not enough, we’ll be kicking off the festival early on Thursday 26th January with a pre-festival party programmed in collaboration with local sound-art collective SOUNDkitchen which showcases some of Birmingham best electronic acts, Freecode, Juneau Brothers and Lash Frenzy as well as one of SOUNDkitchen’s own sound installations.

There’s also an opportunity for you to get involved as we’re running a 2 day workshop on ‘Collaborative Live Coding Performance’ led by members of the first live coding band [PB_UP] (Powerbooks Unplugged).

“Birmingham has a reputation for being the birth place of new genres of music,” said festival organiser, Shelly Knotts. “We’re excited to be a part of this and to be bringing the relatively new genre of computer network based music to Brum. Some of these concerts are going to be epic!”

Tickets are available from Day and weekend passes available £5-£25. Workshop £20.

For more information visit our website: and follow us on twitter: @NetMusicFest. To tweet about the festival use the hashtag #NMF2012. We also have a facebook page:

Network Music Festival // 27-29th January 2012 // The Edge, 79-81 Cheapside, Birmingham, B12 0QH

Twitter: @NetMusicFest Hashtag: #NMF2012



On Friday will be a sneak preview of an excerpt from Act 2 of the Death of Stockhausen, the world’s first ‘laptopera.’

First BiLE Performance

BiLE, the Birmingham Laptop Ensemble, had it’s first gig on Thursday, just six or eight weeks after being formed. We played at the Hare and Hounds in Birmingham, which is a well-known venue for rock bands, as a part of the Sound Kitchen series. There were two pieces on the bill, one called 15 Minutes for BiLE by BiLE member Jorge Garcia Moncada and we did a cover of Stucknote by Scot Gresham-Lancaster, which was a piece played by The Hub.
As a first performance, I thought it went rather well. There were the usual issues where everything sounds completely different on stage and the few minutes of sound checking does not give anybody enough time to get used to the monitor speakers. And time moves completely differently in front of an audience, where suddenly every minute gets much longer. But there were also the performing-with-a-computer issues: computers get terrible stage fright and are much more prone to crash. A few people did have their sound engines crash, so the first piece had a high pitched squeal for a few minutes, while messages flew on the chat window, reminding people to be quiet during the quiet parts. Actually, there was quite a lot of panic in the chat window and I wish I’d kept a log of it. (Later the audience said we all looked panicked from time to time. I always look panicked on stage, but it’s not cool.) In the second piece, I forgot to tell my programme to commence sound-making for a bout the first three minutes. I haven’t heard the recording yet, but I bet things sounded ok. Considering that most of us had never done live laptop performance at all before and how quickly we went from our first planning meeting to our first gig, I think we got a good result.
Jorge’s piece was complicated but Stucknote seems deceptively simple, so we did not try running through it until the day before the gig. In retrospect, this was clearly an error, because the piece, like all structured improvisation, does require some practice to get the flow down. Of course, we’d all spent the requisite time working on our sound generation and I’d coded up some faders for me and the other SuperCollider user, with Ron Kuivila’s Conductor quark, which is a very quick and dirty was of making useful GUIs. I’d tried out my part at home and it worked well and the sound I got was interesting, so I felt confident in it until I got to the practice and it crashed very quickly. I restarted SuperCollider and it crashed again. And again. And again. Half the time, it brought down the other SC user’s computer also. And it was clobbering the network, causing the MAX users a bunch of error messages and a few moments of network congestion. MAX, usefully, just throws away network messages when there are too many of them, whereas SC does not seem to.
I could not figure out where the bug was and so, after the practice, I sat down to sort it out. And there was no sign of it. Everything was fine again.
Fortunately, this provided enough of a clue that I was able to figure out that I had created an infinite loop between the two SuperCollider programmes. When I moved a slider in the GUI, that sent a message to the network which effected the sound on the target machine and also caused Shelly’s programme to update the GUI. However, the Conductor class always informs listeners when it’s updated, no matter who updated it or how, so it sent a message back to the network informing everybody of it’s new value, which caused my GUI to update, which sent a message to the network, ad infintum until I crashed.
I came up with a fix using a flag and semaphores:

                             should_call_action = false;
                             cv = con[contag];
                             cv.input = input;
                             should_call_action = true; 

While this fix mostly works, it does bring up some interesting questions about data management across this kind of network. If we’re all updating the data at once, is there a master copy of it somewhere? Who owns the master copy if one exists? In this case, as one person is making sound from it, that person would seem to be the owner of the data. But what if we were all sharing and using the sliders? Then we all own it and may all have different ideas of what it might actually be.
I’m writing a class for managing shared resources which holds a value and notifies listeners when it changes. The object that’s changing it passes itself along to the method, so when listeners are notified, the changer is not. I haven’t finished the class yet, so I don’t have sample code, but I’m pondering some related issues.
Like, should there be a client version of this class for a local copy held on the local machine and a master version for the canonical copy on the network that everybody else is updating? Should a master copy of some data advertise itself on the network via the API and automatically listen for updates? Should they specify a way to scale values so it can also accepted changed inputs from 0-1 and scale them appropriately? If it does accept inputs/values in a specified range, should there be a switch for the clients to automagically build a GUI containing sliders for every master variable on the network? I think that would be quite cool, but I may not have time to code it soon, as our next gig, where we’ll be playing a piece of mine, is coming up very soon on 29 of April and then there’s a gig in May and then I suspect probably one in June and one in July (although not scheduled yet) and in August, we’re going to NIME in Oslo, which is very exciting. Bright days ahead.

My life lately (is tl;dr)

Tuesday and Wednesday Last Week

A week ago Tuesday, I taught my module in Cambridge. The next morning, I got on a train to Birmingham for BiLE practice. I’m a co-founder of BiLE, the Birmingham Laptop Ensemble. We formed in February and we have a gig next week. The technical hurdles to getting a laptop ensemble going are not minor, so there has been a lot of energy going into this from everybody. We have got group messaging going, thanks to OSCGroups and I wrote some SuperCollider infrastructure based on the API quark and a small chat GUI and a stopwatch sort of timer, which is controlled with OSC, so there’s been a lot of that sort of tool writing. And much less successful coding of sound-making items, which will eventually be joystick controllable if I ever get them to work. All my code is written for mono samples and all of the shared samples people are using are in stereo, so I spent a lot of time trying to stereo-ise my code before finally mixing the samples down to mono.
I’m a big believer in mono, actually, in shared playing environments. If I am playing with other people, I’m playing my computer as an instrument and instruments have set sound-radiation patterns. I could go with a PLOrk-style 6-speaker hemisphere, if I wanted to spend a boatload of money on a single-use speaker to get an instrumental radiation pattern form my laptop, so I could just use a single Genelec 1029 that I already own.
Anyway, after the BiLE rehearsal, a couple students gave a group presentation on Reaper, which is a shareware, cheap, powerful DAW. I’m quite impressed and am pondering switching. My main hesitation is that I expect my next computer will be linux, so I don’t know if I want to get heavily involved with a program that won’t run on that OS. On the other hand, I don’t actually like Ardour very much, truth be told. I haven’t liked any of them since I walked away from ProTools.
After that we went out for socialising and instead of catching a train home, I went to stay on the floor of Julien’s studio. He lives way out in the country, up a lane (British for a single-track country road). It’s quite lovely. I would not be a fan of that commute, but I might do it for that cottage.


The next morning, Juju and I set back to campus quite early so he could meet his supervisor. I ran a couple of errands and got a uni-branded hoodie. I haven’t worn such a garment for years, because fabric clinging to my chest in the bad old days was not a good thing. But now I can wear snug woven fabrics, like T-shirts, hoodies and jumpers! It’s amazing! Also, I remember the major student protests about university branded clothing made by child labour, but this was actually fairtrade, according to the label, which is fairly impressive.
Then all the postgrads met in the basement of the Barber Institute to start loading speakers into a truck for a gig. We were moving a relatively small system, only 70 speakers, but that’s still a fair amount of gear to muscle around. Then we went to the Midlands Arts Centre to move all the gear into the venue and set it up. The gear is all in heavy flight cases, which needed to be pushed up and down ramps and down hallways and then the speakers inside needed to be carried to where they would be set up, as did the stands to which they would be attached and the cables that connect them. It’s a lot of gear. We worked until 6 or 7 pm and then went back to the studios at uni to get a 2 hour long presentation from Hans Tutchku about how he does music stuff. I tried desperately to stay awake because it was interesting and I wanted to hear what he was saying, but I did not entirely succeed in my quest.


Then, Juju and I went back to his place, 45 minutes away and then came back to the MAC early the next morning to finish rigging the system. We put up the remainder of the system and then people who were playing in that evening’s concert began to rehearse. I hung around for the afternoon, trying to get my BiLE code working. Kees Tazelaar, who played the next evening came along to see how things were going and recognised me from Sonology and greeted me by my old name. I like Kees quite a lot, but it was a very awkward moment for me and I wasn’t sure what to do, so I spoke to him only briefly and then mostly avoided him later. This was not the best way to handle it.
There were two concerts in the evening. The second of them was organised by Sound Kitchen and was a continuous hour with no break between pieces. The people diffusing the stereo audio to the 70 speakers took turns, but changed places without interrupting the sound flow. It was extremely successful, I thought. The hour was made up of the work of many different composers, each of whom had contributed only 5 minutes, but somehow this was arranged into a much larger whole that held together quite well, partly because many of the different composers had used similar sound material. A lot of them used bird sounds, for example, so that was a repeating motif throughout the concert.


After that, we hung around the bar for a bit afterwards. The next morning was not so early, thank goodness, when we went back to the MAC and then back to the uni for the BiLE hack day. The idea was that we would do a long group coding session, where people could write code around each other and ask for clarification or feedback or help or whatever from band mates. However, it started really late and everybody was really tired, so it was not entirely successful in it’s goals.
Then we went back to the MAC for the concerts. I was sitting in the hallway, trying to figure out why my BiLE code had failed so completely when I got drafted into being in charge of the comp tickets. It turns out that this is actually somewhat stressful, because it requires knowing who is supposed to get comped in, getting tickets for them and then distributing them. Which means approaching Francis Dhomont and speaking to him.
The first concert was curated by Kees Tazelaar and started with a reconstruction of the sounds played in the Philips Pavilion at the Brussels Worlds Fair in 1958. He found the source tapes and remixed them. Concrete PH sounded much more raw and rougher than other mixes I’ve heard. It had a gritty quality that seemed much more grounded in a physical process. I was surprised by how different it sounded. Then he played Poem électronique and a his own work called Voyage dans l’espace. I hope he plays these again on large multi-channel systems, because it was pretty cool.
I was feeling fairly overwhelmed by the lack of sleep, my lack of success with BiLE and getting stuck with all the comp tickets, so I was not happy between concerts. The next one was all pieces by Anette Vande Gorne, a Belgian woman who runs the Espace du son festival in Brussels and who has very definite theories about how to diffuse sounds in space. Some of them are quite sensible, however, she thinks that sound can start at the front of the hall and be panned towards the back of the hall, but sound cannot originate at the back of the hall and travel to the front. Hearing about this had prejudiced me against her, as it seems rather silly.
She always diffuses standing up, so they had raised the faders for her, with one bank slightly higher than the other, like organ manuals. She started to play her pieces… and it was amazing. It was like being transported to another place. All of my stress was lifted from my shoulders. It was just awe inspiring. The second piece was even better. I was sitting in the back half, so I could see her standing at the mixers, her hands flying across the faders dramatically, like an organist, full of intensity as her music dramatically swelled and travelled around the room. It was awe-inspiring. Then I understood why people listened to her, even when some of her theories sound silly. She might not be right about everything, but there’s quite a lot she is right about. This was one of the best concerts that I’ve ever been to.
The last concert was a surprise booking, so it wasn’t well publicised. It was Jonty Harrison, Francis Dhomont and Hans Tutchku. It was also quite good, but I wouldn’t want to play after Vande Gorne. Tutchku’s piece had several pauses in it that went on just a few moments too long. It’s major climax came quite early. It worked as a piece, but seemed like it could be experienced in another order as easily as the way it was actually constructed. I talked to him at the party afterwards and he said that the pauses were climaxes for him and ways of building tension and that he had carried them out for too long in order to build suspense. I’m not entirely positive they functioned in this way, but the idea is quite ineresting and I may look into it. He also asked me what I thought of his presentation for two days earlier, so I was hoping he hadn’t noticed me dozing off, but I think he did.
After the final concert, there was a large party at Jonty’s house. I got a lift from Jonty, so I was squeezed in the back of a car with Anette Vande Gorne on one side of me and Hans Tutchku on the other side with Francis Dhomont in the front. They all spoke French the whole way. I’ve been filling out job applications and one them wants to know about my foreign language skills and now I can say with certainty that if I’m stuck in a car with several famous composers speaking French, I can follow their conversation fairly well, but would be way too starstruck to contribute anything.
Apparently, the party went on until 4:30 in the morning, but I didn’t stay so late. I talked a lot to Jean-François Denis, the director of empreintes DIGITALes, a Canadian record label. He flew from Canada just for the weekend and showed up without anyone expecting him. He is extraordinarily charming.


The next morning, we went back again to the MAC and then there was a long concert with an intermission in the early afternoon. Amazingly, none of the concerts over the entire weekend featured overhead water drops. There were barely any dripping sounds at all.
After the concert, we de-rigged the system and packed all the gear back into cases and loaded it onto the two rented trucks. Then we went for curry in Mosely, which we seem to do after every gig. Shelly was talking about how it was her last BEAST gig and I wasn’t paying much attention until I realised this meant it was my last gig too. I really should have signed up to play something. I thought there was another gig coming later in the year, but it was cancelled. I’m seriously going to graduate from Brum having only played a piece at a BEAST gig one time and never having diffused a stereo piece. That is extremely lame on my part.


Juju was completely exhausted, so we left the curry early, so he could go home and catch up on sleep. The next morning, we all went back to the Barber Institute to unload the trucks and put everything away. Then we, as usual, went to the senior common room to have cups of terrible coffee. Their tea is alright, so that’s what I had, but most people go for the coffee, which could double as diesel fuel. I guess this was my last time of that also.
Normally, I would then gather my things and go home, but I did not. I worked on code and faffed and worried about my lecture the next day and then in the evening, we had another seminar. Howard Skempton came and talked for two hours about Cardew and Morton Feldman and his own music. It was quite good. We all went to the pub afterwards, but that dissipated quickly as people left to sleep it off.


I got the train home, finally and got in after midnight. There’s a large stack of mail inside my door. I woke up early the next morning to assemble my presentation for my module. As luck would have it, the topic was acousmatic music, so I talked about BEAST and played them some of the music from the weekend. I also pointed them at some tools. I was supposed to have them start their task during the class time, but a surprising number of them wanted to show their works in progress, so that didn’t happen.
As I was on the train back to London from Cambridge, I wondered whether I should go out to a bar that night to socialise when I fell completely asleep on the train. Drooling on my backpack asleep. I completely crashed. I woke myself up enough to get the tube home and then thought I would sort out my BiLE code instead of going out, but I couldn’t concentrate, so I just faffed around on the internet instead of sleeping or going out. Meh to me.


Then, the next day, which was Wednesday, a week and a day after all of this started, I got on the train for Birmingham to go to a BiLE rehearsal and to go to a seminar. I got my code working on the train and was feeling somewhat happy about that, but when I got to the rehearsal, it just gave up completely. I managed to make sounds twice during the entire rehearsal, one of which was during a grand pause. When I tried repeating the sound later, it wouldn’t play. Also, Shelly found a crash bug in my chat application, when Juju typed a french character. On the bright side, however, all of the MAX users got all the way through one of the pieces we’re playing next Thursday, which is quite encouraging. Antonio, our graphics guy got the projector sort of working, so I was able to glance at what he was doing a couple of times and it looked good.
We took a break and a bunch of the postgrads were dissing live coding, so I guess that might not be a good goal for the ensemble. They thought projected code was self-indulgent and only programmers would care. I need to link them to the toplap mainfesto. Actually, they were more dissing the idea of live coding, having barely witnessed any themselves. Non-programmers do seem to care and, while it is a movement that does require some thoughtful understanding to fully appreciate it, the same could certainly be said of acousmatic music. I like the danger of live coding, something that I think a laptop ensemble ought to appreciate. It’s a bit like a high wire act.
The presentations at the seminar were interesting and then we went to the pub. I was so tired biking home from the train station that I got confused about which side of the street I’m supposed to be on.


I slept until 2 this afternoon and I was supposed to sort out my BiLE code and fix up my CV and write my research portfolio, but all I did was send out email about Monday’s supercollider meetup and fix the crashbug in the chat thing. SuperCollider strings are in 7 bit ascii and fuck up if you give them unicode, which is really quire shocking and not documented anywhere.
Then I went to Sam’s to get Xena back and I wired up part of the 5.1 system she got for her daughter and sorted out her daughter’s macmini so that she could connect to it with VNC and so it was wired to the sound system and the projector and quit asking for the keychain password every 5 seconds. Then I came home and spent ages typing this up. Tomorrow, I will do my CV stuff for real, because I have to get it done and then work on my BiLE code. Saturday I’m going back to Brum again for a 5 hour rehearsal in wich we sort out the rest of our music for the gig. Sunday, I need to finish and job application related stuff and write my presentation for Tuesday. Monday is the job application deadline and a SuperCollider meetup. Tuesday, I teach. Wednesday, I need to get Xena back to Sam’s and then go to Brum again for a rehearsal and will be there overnight to practice the next day and then play the gig and then get stonkingly drunk. Friday, I go home. And then start sorting out the tech stuff for the next two pieces, which at least are by me and count towards my portfolio. And I need to sort out my stretched piece which is a disorganised mess and start writing a 20 minut piece, which I haven’t done at all and needs to be done very soon because I need to graduate and I have not spent all this busy time working on my own music, although the tools I’ve written should be kind of valuable. All I can think about now, going over and over in my head is all the stuff I have to do. And snogging. That thing about men thinking about sex every 7 seconds has never been true for me before, but it is now. And it’s actually quite annoying except that as the alternative is thinking about everything that I have to do, I actually prefer it.

Oy, I’m knackered

Tired and going native in my speech habits, but not, so far, my drinking habits. A normal night on the town here can quite often involve vomit from over-indulgence. This just doesn’t sound fun to me. So my tiredness is from appropriately puritanical sources. I’ve been working at something called a “test setup.”
We took a hundred or so speakers and arranged them as if we were giving a concert, but there was no concert. Instead, we were testing things. We’ve got a cool Berlin guy to build us a box with 64 motorized, touch-sensitive faders. He flew in with the prototype and there was discussion of firmware. The plan is purchase three of these.
Then we tested Ambisonics which is a method of positioning sounds in space with an oddly cult-like following of users. People who like it really really like it. It sounded weird on our system. One outside observer informed us that we were sending in the wrong sort of sounds for it to work. The easy comment is that a panning system that only works with a few types of sounds is not the most useful, but that comment is unfair. A speaker array like ours turns into a sort of architecture and not all sounds work in all spaces. Gospel music is great, but sounds bad in cathedrals. It needs a room with a short decay time. Similarly, plain chant in an acoustically dead church is going to fall very flat.
Obviously, people compose for the kinds of spaces and instruments that they have. Modern concert halls are very dry and sound really good with the sort of stochastic-like short pulses of 20th century music. So it shouldn’t be surprising that our rig is going to have a body of work that sounds good with it and not as good with different controlling software.
We normally use something that’s pronounced as “V-bap”, but I don’t know what the acronym stands for. It’s equal power pan spread across three speakers to localize a sound in space and it seems to require quite a lot less math. Basically: you know that you can make a sound seem to move back and forth by twisting the balance knob on your stereo. Well, add a third speaker above and a second knob and you can make it go up and down too.
For my part, I carried things around and otherwise did grunt work, which can be a good way to learn about a system without having to ask too many questions or go to a lecture. I tried to play my phone phreaking piece, but I couldn’t get it to work on the computer attached to all the speakers, alas.
One of my favorite students in the program flew in from Spain to work on the test setup, so it was good to talk to him. Apparently he used to have an internet addiction and now he talks about strategies to stop using the net aside from getting email and how much better his life is net-free. I remain unconvinced. Besides, I can quit any time.
Still the internet has kind of begun to bore me. The social network sites are dull and give me little for my time. The news is still valuable. But blogs . . . so many of them are narcissistic and dull. Maybe I should stop.

Need Doggy Day Care in Brum

I’m going to be in Birmingham very shortly and I’m looking for somebody to hangout with my dog during the day Monday – Thursday. I would drop Xena by you in the morning. She would sit around and probably sleep most of the day. You would take her on one walk, or maybe two. I would come get her in the evening. I would give you £10 for your trouble that day. She could be left alone while you ran errands, for like 4 hours at a stretch. It’s a really low stress gig. Fun, too, since she’s a good dog.
If you’re interested, drop me an email at .

Glad to be Leaving

I actually have no idea why the bill for gas and electricity is so large, but now I know why it came to a name that I don’t recognize. It used to be in the name of one of my housemates. The guy that moved out (thank god). When he moved out, he didn’t tell anyone. I finally asked his sister weeks later and she confirmed that he was gone, although I was pretty sure that’s what had happened when I saw that the TV and all the toilet brushes disappeared.
When he left, he changed the bills to be under a fictitious name. And didn’t tell anybody, except possibly his sister, what name to look for. So last week, I saw a letter from the electric/gas company addressed to an unknown name, and realized that I had given no money to either company in quite a long time. I opened it and it alerted me that the gas and power was going to be shut off in a few days time unless we sent them money. A lot of money. The bill is incredibly high.
I called the company and asked if it possibly dated from before we moved in. They refused to discuss anything with me unless I faxed in a copy of my tenancy agreement. I couldn’t not get them to agree to delay shutting things off, even. So I did that and they promised to send a revised bill and have not done so.
And then I started talking to my housemates. The sister refused to pay anything and demanded to know why I had called them. (Personally, I think of it as kind of a disaster when power and gas get shut off, but I’m also the sort of person who replaces lightbulbs. Indeed, I’m the only person in this house who replaces lightbulbs.) She claimed the electric company was lying about the amount that we owed. We had already paid bills for the time covered under that bill, when it was in her brother’s name. I asked if she could produce copies of these bills, as that would surely help resolve any disputes. She got suddenly very shouty and defensive.
There was an interesting phrase on the bill. It said it was extremely accurate because they had sent somebody around to read the meter. Apparently, the previous bills all said they were the amount that the residents had called up to report.
Now, this is pure speculation on my part, drawn from conjecture and partially remembered rants of my very ranty ex-housemate, but what I suspect is that he was calling them up every month with invented numbers on the meter. Then he switched it to a name unconnected with him and hoped that nothing would get shut off before his sister moved out.
How much is the bill? Less than my monthly rent in London is going to be, but not much less.
The gas/electric company promised to send something within the week, when I explained that we were all about to move and I needed to see something in writing to present to my housemates or else I would get stuck with the whole thing. They made false promises about mailing things.
There’s false promises and duplicity all around. And I’m going to get stuck with the entire bill. Because the only way I’m getting any money out of the lying weasel or his sister is going to be to take them to court. And the whole process will certainly involve a wall of manic shouting from both of them. I have more financial capital than emotional capital. I can pay money and make the stress go away.
I was joking earlier that the vibe living here made me pine for the good old days of a disintegrating marriage. Truly I have cursed myself to an expensive divorce.

The last on BrumCon

My previous post is apparently coming off as much more whiny than I intended. I get very nervous on stage, in general. So I always think I’m crashing and burning, no matter what’s actually happening.
Why play on stage even if you get stage fright: it gets easier when you do it a lot. It impresses chicks. It’s even more annoying sitting in the audience watching somebody else play your music wrong (which gets you no chicks, they all go for the performer). Nobody wants to go to a show of tape music. It’s almost always worth it. Audience reaction is the best way to figure out what parts of pieces are working and what parts aren’t.
In the art music scene, we brag about playing in front of hostile audiences. One time, in Connecticut, I had a friend who ran a folk music open mic night. She invited me to come play a political piece I was working on, with the voice of a shrill, horrible far right political pundit. Just about everybody got up and left and the ones who remained tried to give me unfriendly, helpful advice including things like the definition of music, since I was obviously unclear on it. That was a hostile audience. BrumCon? That was mixed.
That was surprising for me: playing in front of a mixed audience, since it was a new experience. And then there were musical problems where I was kind of fighting my gear. That happens sometimes. I now know what changes I need to make before my next show. It’s somewhat stressful, but not like, say, having a tuba that you’re playing suddenly fall apart on stage.
I would totally be into playing in front of the same or a similar group again. And next time, I’ll have a better idea what to expect. I’m glad I added in the 8 bit FX, as that seemed to go over really well. I’m also glad I didn’t get my piece with samples from BNP politicians together. (The British National Party is allied with the French National Front (Le Pen’s party) and other National Socialist parties around Europe. They’re bad people.)
After I packed up, I wandered into the bar next door, where a bunch of the attendees, including the next speaker who was supposed to have started already, were having pints. One friendly guy bought me a Guinness. I chatted a bit with people and then went to the next talk which was on web security and how to hack social networking sites. And how to prevent those hacks. It was interesting and would have been way useful were I still a web developer. You can’t just check IDs against permissions. You need to have some logic in there also. There are permission sets that are impossible. Like a Admin should also have the Moderator bit set, for a hypothetical example, and if they don’t, they got to be an Admin through abnormal means.
Then, I chatted with more people, including one guy who books gigs for a series in London. 🙂 I looked at the clock and it was 17:30. I’d left Xena, my dog, locked in a crate since 10:00 so I decided to bike home with my gear, give her a walk and then bike back to catch the end of things. It was such a lovely day in the park! So bright and sunny and warm! We had a lovely walk and then I sat down for a moment on my bed . . . and woke several hours later. Ha! I can only drink half a pint, or I get totally non-functional. It’s so pathetic. I need to start going to the gym to put on some weight!

BrumCon 07 – Gig Report

And then I was on. And incredibly nervous. The thing about hackers and geeks is that we don’t tend to be polite. Even British hackers. It’s an international identity, really. We’re all zitty, perhaps having some trouble with puberty, awkward, weird and rude. I’m not a technically a hacker, really, since I just do audio and my interest in breaking things has mostly faded. But socially, yeah. So when I started to play, some people were clearly not impressed and not hiding that.
The bass was way too boomy. My computer out was not going through an EQ, so I couldn’t turn up the treble. A bloke in the front row got out a newspaper. The sampled voice was way too low in the mix. The first piece runs on a timer. I wanted it to end, but it goes for at least 5 minutes. I tried to add in as much variation as possible, with the limited controls I gave myself. It’s a poppy tune, without really any dynamic variation. I felt like I was crashing and burning. Finally, after an eternity, it ended.
Immediately there were questions, “were you controlling that with a joystick?” “were those sounds generated live?” “could you plug in a projector so we can see what you’re doing?” Wow. So half the people were interested. Some number of them were actually fascinated. And half the people hated it. Wow. This was the most mixed group I’ve ever played in front of.
I went on to do my live sampling, this time with the projector plugged in. I’d gotten it finally working very late the night before after numerous problems, most of which were extra annoying because the failures happened silently ARG! That should never happen! If something goes wrong, it needs to alert you! Anyway, they saw my screen projected, complete with the many curse words that had worked their way into my source code over the previous 48 hours. The debug window regularly told me to go fuck myself. There was giggling.
Normally, when I’m using a controller, I have it post notes reminding me which button does what. I didn’t do that here. Nor did I regularly post which samples were playing. This combination was not so good, since I completely forgot what button did what. It’s clear now that I had them all wrong anyway. I need to be able to use the major functions in the controller with one hand, preferably, my right hand (unless I’m playing tuba). It kind of didn’t matter, because the projector changed my screen resolution such that I wouldn’t have been able to see my notes anyway.
So the set was fairly confusing and stressful. About half the people in the room left. I still feel ok about it, though. I made some music and possibly some connections.
Some of the local FOSS types are trying to get a free culture group together. I would really like to teach a class in SC. It would be super cool to have an SC users group where people could do demos of their projects or how to do things, so people could get help from each other. We could all build SC cluster computers. It would be teh awesome. Beginner instruction at 7. Regular group at 8. That sort of thing.
Anyway, I have a mental list of fixes for the software. Also, I wonder if I could sort of glue a wiimote to the bottom of the controller. I like the dual sticks and all the buttons, but it would be nice to have positional data too.


This is apparently coming across much more negatively than I intended. So I’ve published a clarification. In short: I would do it again, no question.

BrumCon 07 – Thin Clients

The first afternoon talk was on thin clients. You remember those tiny Sun Java Boxes? Or other weird, little, expensive boxes with no disks, that just ran on the network? Those are thin clients. But they need not be overpriced. An ancient pentium can become a thin client. It’s recycling and with no disks, it’s pretty energy efficient. Ergo, this is a green use of tech. And anything that resurrects useless hardware into a tool is fucking cool.
I forgot to save the notes I took. Um, ok, so thin clients obviously depend on a server. They do something called a PXE boot, where they ask for their OS across the network via DHCP and TFTP. After they figure out what servers they needed, they do some more TFTP until they get an adequate OS running on a RAM disk. So the operating system and an X server are running locally. (The terms “client” and “Server” are reversed in X, which is annoying. The server serves the graphics. (Don’t think about this too hard.)
When you launch an application, like OpenOffice, or firefox, that runs on the server, but is displayed on the client. These apps don’t have a lot of extra overhead if more than one person is using them at a time. There could potentially be security issues, because every keystroke is being transmitted across the network. Part of what you want to do is make sure that nobody bad can get between you and the server. Therefore, it’s best to run wires rather than wifi. Also, you want the thin client to have access only to the server. The server can get to the internet, but the clients cannot. Finally, risk is mitigated through ssh tunneling, which is now standard in many thin clients.
Edubuntu, an ubuntu distro does thin clients out of the box and is an easy solution. This whole setup is really great for NGOs since a lot of the hardware is findable via freecycle. Every edubuntu release gets three years of security updates, so you can set this up and not have to upgrade the server for three years. I want to help put together an NGO-ready-to-go set, and I think this model makes a lot of sense.
I wish I hadn’t lost my notes . . .
You can also do slightly thicker clients, where some apps are sent across the network to run locally, on the client. This is related to my plan to get cheap multi-channel audio for installation. What I want to do is get a bunch of motherboards that all have on-board audio. I want to stick them in a box together, with a giant power supply, where one of them would have access to a disk and the others would not. The disk-enabled one would be the server. I would hookup a screen, mouse, keyboard etc to the server, because in this case the clients are providing only the audio. They would PXE boot from the server, but instead of loading and starting X, they would load and boot the SuperCollider audio server (now you can see how the X windows stuff got to be backwards). The server would load the SuperCollider language. It would access all the clients (aka SC servers) via OSC. It would tell them when to play and what to play, load SynthDefs and Buffers, etc. Every client motherboard in this scheme is 2 channels of audio. So three motherboards is 4 (or 6) channels. Four provide 6 (or 8) channels. Etc. Ideally, all this hardware would be free (as in beer). I think I’m going to wait until my lease is up to start combing freecycle in earnest. But it would be so brilliant being able to drag a free box into a gallery or something and have all open source and a load of speakers. It’s not the most gigable solution, but yeah, brilliant for installations.
Um, anyway, if you want to get rid of p400 or better motherboards with on-board audio, drop me a line. I’ve got £0 budget, but I will generate a howto, so think of it as giving something to the FOSS community.