Artists> Artists in 2013> James Harkins (USA)


James Harkins (USA)

H. James Harkins was born in Washington DC and raised in Indiana. He attended Butler University, taking composition studies with Michael Schelle and flute with Loretta Contino, graduating magna cum laude in 1993. His graduate studies in composition took place at Duke University (Ph.D., 2001) under Scott Lindroth, Stephen Jaffe and Sidney Corbett.
Dr. Harkins seeks to humanize music technology by creating works for live computer performance with traditional instruments. Music's original purpose in society is physical and ritual; electronic music, while "virtual" in its origin in intangible electric signals, may still fulfill these fundamental human needs by engaging directly with the audience in performance and maintaining physicality or spirituality. Dr. Harkins's style owes debts to Western classical music, jazz and experimental electronica, and draws its physical roots from the energy of dance club music. He plays a number of traditional bamboo flutes in performance pieces, and has also composed conventionally-notated works for classical performers with computer.
Out of the conviction that each performance should be unique, Dr. Harkins uses "generative" compositional methods, by which the computer generates some of the musical details ranging from expressive details to pitches and rhythms. These ideas are realized in the SuperCollider programming language, using composition and performance software of his own design. Dr. Harkins is an active developer of SuperCollider, and has written and lectured on the language.
Dr. Harkins is currently an associate professor in the Modern Music Department of Xinghai Conservatory, Guangzhou, China. His music has been heard in Washington DC, Philadelphia, Durham (NC), Birmingham (UK), and in Beijing and Shanghai, China.
program note:
Affectations/Torso: A case study in future-proofing interactive computer music through robust code design
This paper describes programming techniques used in my composition Affectations/Torso to organize large-scale form to facilitate future revision, including the complete replacement of its original performance interface with a gesture-driven, touchless interface. This article covers my approach to
large-scale structure in interactive computer music before discussing code design errors, specifically tight coupling between components, that complicate interface changes. The issues are general to any programming environment for interactive sound art; examples are in the object-oriented
programming language SuperCollider, and a final example in Pure Data shows how the same principles may apply in graphical patching environments.