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In May I was very happy to be awarded one of the Sound and Music Covid 19 Composer Awards. When I applied the lockdown had only just begun, and the reality of the consequences, such as cancelled, or postponed concerts, and other plans had become apparent. In my organ and live electronics duet with Lauren Redhead, my work has often been to interpret scores and either to work with an already completed live electronics interface (such as a MaxMSP patchy, or even a fixed media part), or to build the live electronics part from anew. Since the composers we often work with have either not yet composed for the organ, or for the combination of the organ with live electronics, we are more often faced with the latter case. ‘We’ because the live electronics is barely ever relevant only to myself, particularly since, as the organist, Lauren has to plan how she to react and interact as part of the learning and rehearsing work of our duet. 

Last year, while browsing the cycling ’74 website I noticed online courses were being offered by the kadenze.com website. In particular I noticed the course being taught by Matt Wright*, from Stanford University, here is Matt Wright in interview, discussing the many advantages of MaxMSP for programmers, sound technicians, performers using live electronics, and composers. Their particular MaxMSP course doesn’t only offer tuition in the basics of the course, but—and of fundamental interest to me—tuition in Jitter, Gen, and in the Javascript side of programming, these being aspects I have been interested in exploring for a long while. Even though much of the initial ground covered is not entirely new to me, I always instructive to see how other people engage with the same set of problems I have often encountered. In addition to this being a possibility to sharpen my knowledge, it has also offered a new and valuable set of skills moving forward.

I am extremely grateful to Sound and Music for their support in my taking this course, and of being able to make and learn something valuable during the time spent in lockdown.

*(This is a different person than the Matt Wright, who is a composer, improviser and sound artist, who is currently head of composition and sonic art at the School of Music and Performing art, Canterbury Christ Church University!)

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