Davies's instruments were economical in the sense that they utilised minimal resources, found, recycled, or
cheaply available. His `Music for a Single Spring' (1975), for example, was performed using an instrument
comprising a single 85 cm spring and four magnetic pickups,3.12 while his `Larchcone Clickers' (1977) were simply larchcones
found on the ground and played with the thumbnails.3.13 The mode of
performance was characterised by the maximal exploitation of these limited resources, such that the range of
sounds attained would often belie the simplicity of the materials employed. (Davies believed that `the
challenge for an instrument builder is to obtain the best sonic result from
[a] basic set of sound sources.'3.14)
Economy, and the maximal exploitation of minimal resources, represents another point of contact between
Davies's work and the practice of live coding. In live coding, the computer code that determines the sound
generation and musical structuring must be typed out in real time as the performance proceeds. For this
reason, economical code that can nonetheless yield a diverse range of musical results is desirable. As
Sorensen and Brown explain:
The limitations of how much typing can be done during a live performance mandate parsimonious solutions for
both musical and systems design considerations... [T]he utility of a limited set of processes across a
variety of circumstances is important.3.15
For this reason, Sorensen and Brown's work relies upon `simple processes that can be combined to yield rich musical results.'3.16 In live coding, as in Davies's instruments, minimal materials are exploited to yield the maximum range of possible musical results.
- ... pickups,3.12
- Hugh Davies, Warming Up with
the Iceman (Erkrath: GROB, 2000), audio CD.
- ... thumbnails.3.13
- Hugh Davies, `Seven Portable Found
Instruments', in Sounds Heard (Chelmsford: Soundworld, 2002), pp.41–3 (p.42).
- ... sources.'3.14
- Hugh Davies, `New Musical Instruments', in Sounds Heard (Chelmsford: Soundworld,
2002), pp.31–32 (p.31).
- ... important.3.15
- Andrew Sorensen and Andrew Brown, `aa-cell in Practice: An
Approach to Musical Live Coding', in Proceedings of the International Computer Music Conference,
- ... results.'3.16
- Sorensen and Brown, p.2.