Live electronic music

Live electronics refers to a variety of electro-acoustic music that is created with the help of interpreters in real time during a performance. The otherwise in the electronic studio held sound production is thereby shifted to the stage, making the rigid electronic playbacks are replaced by the more flexible methods of live electronics. If the electronics are gaining an instrumental character, which in turn opens up possibilities of improvisation and a freer design of the passage of time.

Again and again the live electronics is played by the composer himself, and thus abolished the usually practiced division of labor between composer and performer.


The term live-electronics goes back to John Cage, of him in the preface of his composition Cartridge Music (1960 ) used the first time. The first piece with live electronics in the immediate sense also from Cage: In its 1939 already incurred Imaginary Landscape No.. 1 for piano, pool and two turntables they are played by two musicians such instruments by the data stored on the records sine tones are manipulated by speed changes during the performance.

An early example of live - electronic music is microphonic I ( 1965) for a song and dance, 2 microphones, 2 band-pass filter and volume control by Karlheinz Stockhausen dar. Here the musical process is split into three separate areas: sound generation (two performers bring the hoopla with various means to sound ) - sound recording ( two musicians grope the vibrating metal surface with microphones from ) - Sound transformation ( operation of the filter and volume control by two other musicians). The microphone becomes the instrument and is used to make the otherwise inaudible - Audible.

A special handling live electronics maintains the Canadian composer Alvin Lucier. In his performance I Am Sitting in a Room (1969 ), the composer speaks a text on tape. It is then played back through a speaker in the room with a microphone and recorded on a second tape. This dubbing is repeated so often stay until the end only the room resonances audible.

In 1971, founded the Experimental Studio of the Heinrich Strobel Foundation on SWR in Freiburg, the focus was mainly on the live electronic manipulation of the room sound. For this purpose, a separate room sound distribution - the so-called Halaphon (named after its developer Hans Peter Haller ) - designed, among other things, was used by Luigi Nono in works such as Prometeo (1984).

The founded in 1977 by Pierre Boulez IRCAM turned its attention to the digital handling and algorithmic control of live electronics, which led to the development of music computers, which sound manipulations enabled in real time. In Boulez's Repons (1981 ff ) to acoustic instruments, live electronics and multi-channel sound projection connect to previously unheard sound worlds.

The availability of powerful and affordable personal computer led from the late 1980s to develop their own programming languages ​​for sound manipulation in real time such as Max / MSP and Pd, whereby the live electronics was no longer coupled to elaborate analog studio equipment. The required components can be realized now as software modules and can be played on a laptop.