Expanding the Performance Possibilities of Real-Time Computer Music Repertoire through Re-Working Dated Technology


Richard Dudas


While collaborating with instrumentalists on concerts of music with an interactive real-time computer component, not as a composer but as a technological co-performer, it has been regularly necessary for me to update the technology used. This need stems partially from the rapid obsolescence of both hardware and software technology: compositions that were created only a decade ago often need to be re-worked in order to be able to present them to new audiences. Even where more recent works are concerned, I have often found that many real-time compositions (even high-profile ones) frequently use hastily designed and poorly maintained Max/MSP-based software requiring some degree of renovation before they can be used reliably in rehearsal, not to mention in concert. Many of the published writings about this re-design of obsolescent technology have tended to focus on a slavish faithfulness to the original technology, regardless of any shortcomings that might be inherent in it. However, in many cases both performers and myself agree that it is necessary to redesign, rethink, and improve pieces, in the same way that a pianist may need to rethink and re-interpret music originally written for harpsichord, fortepiano, or other pre-modern pianos. Just as instrumental performers desire to interpret music to the best of their abilities in order to make that music come alive for their audience, so, too, should the technical performer endeavor to make pieces sound the best they can, both from a technical and musical standpoint, in order to entice today’s increasingly technology-savvy audiences. This paper will briefly discuss several compositions as case studies, and look at some of the most useful real-time signal processing techniques in Max/MSP which have been used to improve them, so others may benefit when working on technology-updating projects, or new computer music endeavors.

Download the entire paper in PDF format

Published in:

Where this paper has been cited:

  • Dudas, R., “Another Take on Renovating Dated Technology for Concert Performance,” Proceedings of the International Computer Music Conference (ICMC), Denton, Texas, USA, 2015, pp.34–41.
  • Furniss, P., Dudas, R., “Transcription, Adaptation and Maintenance in Live Electronic Performance with Acoustic Instruments,” Proceedings of the Joint International Computer Music Conference (ICMC) and Sound and Music Computing Conference (SMC), Athens, Greece, 2014.