slow code, image by Anders Jacobsen image Anders Jacobsen

Towards a Slow Code Manifesto

"To know code, is to slow code"

The slow code (SC) movement takes the virtuosic element out of live coding of computer music. SC is to music what the slow food movement is to cooking. Slow coding removes the excitement and danger (often seen as a feature) out of live coding, and replaces it with a non-competitive, meditative, conversational ethos. One way of approaching this is to use a very lazy evaluation scheme implemented within SuperCollider, the Slow Code Library (SCLib) SuperCollider classes.

At a slow code event, the audience will not feel the need to look at the coders' screens, or no more than every 5 minutes (+/- 27 secs tolerance). (The slow coders themselves may look at their own screens more often than that using the phi notification method within the SCLib system.) A 2008 composition using the SCLib system, Intramission 6+ for computer alone (a piano and computer version also exists), is an algorithmic composing-out of Morton Feldman's 1953 work Intermission 6.

An important forerunner of the slow code movement were the ZEP / WRAP ("Watch, Relax and Program") sessions first organised by Julian Rohrhuber in Cologne in 2001. Tom Hall, Julian Rohrhuber and Renate Wieser promote slow code ideals as members of the the Elementary Music Ensemble.

Alberto de Campo was appointed an honorary Slow Code Fellow in 2009 in recognition of the slow code ethos that can be detected in his SuperCollider work. He will be formally notified of this in due course.

(For information on the related notion of 'conversational programming' see Rohrhuber, J. and de Campo, A., 2009. 'Improvising Formalisation: Conversational Programming and Live Coding', in Assayag, G. and Gerzso, A. New Computational Paradignms for Computer Music. Paris: Editions Delatour France / Ircam-Centre Pompidou)[pdf].

More information on all aspects of the the slow code movement and the SCLib system may be posted here eventually.

April 2007