In the 21st century, it seems that Hugh Davies's innovatory, do-it-yourself, lo-fi approach - which in several respects prefigured present laptop culture - is finding favour with a younger generation to whom this remarkable and iconoclastic innovator now appears as a significant father figure.3.2
As part of an AHRC Fellowship project in collaboration with the Science Museum this paper will explore the self-built electronic musical instruments of Hugh Davies (1943-2005) and their relation to present-day electronic and digital instrument-building practices. The development of Davies's practice as an instrument builder will be outlined and a number of Davies's instruments will be described, with emphasis placed upon the cultural values and ideologies that the instruments embody. Points of contact with present-day live coding practice and its attendant ideologies will be proposed, focusing upon common themes of: materiality - the physical characteristics of objects versus the `material' constraints of computer code; 3.3 economy - maximal exploitation of minimal resources, whether through physical recycling and repurposing or through algorithmic efficiency; and community - collaborative instrument-building workshops versus collaborative open-source software projects. Through my discussion I will demonstrate how many of the current/recent concerns of live coding were foreshadowed in the approach Davies took to building and performing with his instruments.