Many different ways of performing with electronics have been investigated over the past several decades. These include performing with taped electronics, as well as live processing with computer programmes such as Max-MSP[1], Ableton Live[2] and Supercollider.[3]

When performing with live processing, it is almost always necessary to perform with a specialist electronics performer, who can not only supervise and manipulate the electronics processing, but also troubleshoot any technical issues that may arise during performance. This may also be necessary with taped electronics if entries need to be triggered during a piece. With taped electronics that include straight playback, audio or time-coded cues included in the score may be necessary to help with ensemble coordination between the performer and the tape.


Electronics with baroque violin:

Since the turn of the 21st century, several examples of new works for the baroque violin with electronics have been created, both in my own repertoire and in those of baroque violinists abroad. Such examples include various pieces on Nordic Affect’s albums Clockworking (Nordic Affect, 2015) and Raindamage (Nordic Affect, 2017), written for Icelandic baroque violinist Halla Steinunn Stefánsdóttir. From my commissions for baroque violin, examples of works with taped electronics include Alexander Garsden’s Law II (Garsden, 2013), in which the performer must work with a stopwatch to line up certain cues with the electronics playback, and Natasha Anderson’s The Target Has Disappeared (Anderson, 2018), in which the composer triggers the electronics part to align with the live baroque violin performance.


The following is an excerpt from Law II by Alexander Garsden (2013, p. 2), showing the time-codes to be followed.

Figure 30.1 – Law II by Alexander Garsden (2013, p. 2), bars 72–74


When working with taped electronics, it is important to remember to consider and specify performance pitch so that the taped and live parts align.

I typically perform with live processing only when a specialist electronics operator is available to perform with, except under certain circumstances. One example of when it was possible to perform with live processing can be found in Biddy Connor’s 2018 work The Glass Violin, a performance of which can be found in the third instalment of the Recitals, Everything Old is New Again. This was only possible as the live processing is run through an iPad application with pre-set effects, meaning the only action required for me to trigger the live electronics is to use a volume pedal to make the effects audible. If the live processing were more complex, or required more intricate cues and processing, an electronics performer may be necessary. In this instance, the sounds being processed were not actually those of the baroque violin; rather the sounds of bowed, tuned wine glasses.


Suggested notation:

With taped electronics where the performer must align with certain points in the electronics playback, time codes may be included in the score so that the performer can play to a stopwatch, as in the example shown in Figure 30.1 above.

With live processing, some electronics cues may be included in the score so that the performer might interact with them or know that the live processing is functioning well, however this may not be necessary.


[1] See https://cycling74.com

[2] See https://www.ableton.com

[3] See https://supercollider.github.io