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.


... figure.3.2
Keith Potter, `Hugh Davies: Iconoclastic Innovator in Electronic Music', Independent, 7 January 2005.
... code;3.3
Thor Magnusson, `The Materiality of Code: Code as Literature', presented at Musical Materialities conference, Sussex, 2014.
adrian 2015-06-03