This presentation examines instances of elementary algorithmic thinking and musical examples that bear the same principles. A particular focus is given to the function of algorithmic thinking as a performative skill in action. The presentation takes as its background that the application of the procedural logic of algorithm has a long history in music, and that examples can be found in many types of music-making as activities. While much of this application is already discussed in the discipline of musical composition, I observe that the significant presence of algorithmic thinking in performance is still to be articulated. In the three sections titled ‘affordance’, ‘combinatoriality’, and ‘sequence’, I examine each concept in algorithmic operations, and how the same principle can be observed in musical practices. These three sections provide reflection on the nature of the processes involved in music-making. They also simultaneously argue that contemporary musicians possess the capacity to process necessary information and tasks algorithmically, consciously or not.
Centred around a video essay, this exposition aims to develop an understanding of subjectivity within a collaborative chamber music context. Drawing on the theory of situated cognition (see for example Brown, Collins, & Duguid, 1989) and the concept of subjective ‘voice’ in performance (Cumming, 2000), the presentation develops the model proposed by Gorton and Östersjö (2016 and 2019) in which a ‘discursive voice’ may emerge from the process of composer–performer collaboration.
These ideas are explored through a study of the early rehearsals of David Gorton's composition ‘Cerro Rico’, for soprano violin and charango. This is a very slow piece, and while the two instrumentalists both operate at this extreme of the tempo spectrum, they do so guided by different conceptions, one metronomic and the other taxonomic, of how this should be notated; the charango player works with a very slow metronome mark of quaver = 15 while the violinist plays mostly in large note-values: breves, longs, and dotted longs. From these opposed positions, the performers find a shared understanding of time.
Through an appraisal of video footage taken from the first rehearsals of ‘Cerro Rico’, it is argued that the malleable character of coordination, shaping, and timing that is afforded in performance by the extreme slowness of the piece creates the conditions for the emergence of a discursive voice, compounded from the contributions of the two performers and the composer. The ‘collaboration’ between composer and performers can be conceived as being situated within this discursive voice, manifested as a sense of shared ownership of the materials.