Rhea Myers

The Livecoding Language Of Choice: Scheme

Scheme is a member of the Lisp family of languages. Lisp is almost fifty years old, and it’s still the most advanced programming language there is. It’s also one of the simplest: the only rule you have to remember is that (everything goes between brackets). These are both features that make Lisp good for implementing any new style of programming. Such as livecoding.

Livecoding is the creation of music or animation by programming live in front of an audience. Dave Griffith has a system called ‘fluxus’ that I’ve mentioned before. Notice all the brackets around the code, that’s a hallmark of Scheme:

 Software Fluxus Images Spasm

And here’s Andrew Sorensen and Andrew Brown performing using ‘impromptu’ in Brisbane. More brackets:

P7140292 1

Scheme beats languages like Ruby or Lua because you don’t have to remember any syntax, and it beats Python because you don’t have to fiddle with the whitespace. fluxus keeps track of your brackets with a syntax highlighting editor, so you have the twin benefits of structured code and something other than your brain keeping track of the structure.

Forget flash-in-the-pan languages like ActionScript or Processing. Real hackers use Lisp. :-)

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