For String Quartet and Networked Computers


Livecell is a performance for string quartet and electronics using a new system for interactive real-time composition. The composer interacts live with a touch screen to create and destroy cells in a continuously evolving artificial life simulation based on cellular automata. The state of these cells is continuously translated into a musical score, which is then transmitted over a local area network to the musicians' laptops to be performed by the string quartet live as it appears on their screens.

Different areas of the interface correspond to the different instruments in the string quartet, and cells are able to grow and move between these areas allowing the composition and the instrumentation to evolve both under the direction of the composer and with the natural evolution of the cells. The composer is able to determine and change the rules used in the cell evolution calculations, as well as affect the form, rhythm and harmonic colour of the musical material produced.

Through the system, the user takes on the roles of both composer, conductor and improviser to determine the textures, harmonies, tempo and other musical parameters of the emerging composition, mediated by the technology and performed live by the string quartet. The musical output is complex and the result of a careful balance between the influence of the user and the calculations of the algorithm, resulting in a very engaging experience for the comopser, performers and listeners alike.



2012 - KEAMS, Seoul, Korea

2012 - Electronic Visualisation and the Arts, London

2012 - Interface 2012, Birmingham Conservatoire

2012 - New Resonances Festival, Wilton's Music Hall, London

2012 - Leeds International Festival for Innovations in Music Production and Composition, Leeds, UK

2012 - Music & Technologies Conference, Kaunas, Lithuania

2011 - BBC Radio 3 Free Thinking Festival, The Sage, Newcastle

2011 - Pixelerations Festival, Providence, Rhode Island, USA.

2011 - International Computer Music Conference (ICMC), Huddersfield, UK

2011 - Thinking Digital Conference, The Sage, Newcastle


Honarable mention in the Electric Monster Laptop Ensemble Commission Award from Montana State University:!/note.php?note_id=10150103383977235


Winner ofthe 2010 NEMart European digital art competition, Barcelona, as part of the 2010 Networked Electronic Media summit.


Kingsley Ash

  Nikos Stavropoulos