Ixi lang is a programming language created by lecturer Thor Magnusson, specifically for live-coding music. It’s not the only language designed for this purpose – in fact, it’s built on top of Supercollider, an extremely powerful and complex language for programming sound – but what makes it special is its simplicity. Even if you’ve never coded or made music before, once you’ve got it up and running, it’s extremely easy to start making sounds with.
Ixi requires you to enter the name of a sound, draw bars using brackets, and enter notes with numbers. You then run the line of code you’ve just typed, and your sequence of notes will start looping until you tell it to stop. To change the notes of the music in real-time, you simply change the numbers you’ve already typed out, and run the line of code again; the sounds will remain in sync with each other, and flow together seamlessly.
Ixi has been around for a little while, has a fairly small userbase (maybe we can change that?) and isn’t currently being maintained as actively as it once was, so resources are a little patchy, but, in my opinion at least, it’s well worth sticking with. If you want to try it out, here’s a list of useful links:
The download page for the current standalone version of ixi. Note that this will only work on OS X.
A troubleshooting guide to installing ixi (almost certainly the most difficult part). This page also contains a (vague and untested) guide to getting it working on Windows.
A basic video tutorial by Thor showing you how to get started.
The ixi Vimeo features a series of tutorial videos ranging from simple to more complex, as well as some performances using the software.
Beyond what is shown in Thor’s videos, your best bet is the ixi manual (click Help, then ixi lang help, when ixi is open).
This Is Fine, an instrumental techno album made in ixi lang by Leeds-based artist Belisha Beacon.
I’m releasing an ixi mini-album as Deerful, called Tell Me I Can Fix This On My Own, on September 1st. Keep an eye on my Bandcamp, or iTunes/Spotify/whatever your chosen method of music consumption is, if you prefer.