Cage's Imaginary Landscape No. 1 (1939) was among the earliest compositions to include an innovative use of live electronic material; it featured two variable-speed phonograph turntables and sine-tone recordings (Collins 2007, 38-39). Cage's interest in live electronics continued through the 1940s and 1950s, providing inspiration for the formation of a number of live-electronic groups in America who came to regard themselves as the pioneers of a new art form (Manning 2013, 157).
Stockhausen (2 September 1972 at the Shiraz Arts Festival, at the sound controls for the live-electronic work Mantra), who wrote a number of notable electronic compositions in the 1960s and 1970s in which amplification, filtering, tape delay, and spatialization was added to live instrumental performance
In Europe, Pierre Schaeffer had attempted live generation of the final stages of his works at the first public concert of musique concrète in 1951 with limited success. However, it was in Europe at the end of the 1950s and early 1960s that the most coherent transition from studio electronic techniques to live synthesis occurred. Mauricio Kagel's Transición II (1959) combined two tape recorders for live manipulation of the sounds of piano and percussion, and beginning in 1964 Karlheinz Stockhausen entered on a period of intensive work with live electronics with three works, Mikrophonie I and Mixtur (both 1964), and Mikrophonie II (Manning 2013, 157-58). While earlier live-electronic compositions, such as Cage's Cartridge Music (1960), had mainly employed amplification, Stockhausen's innovation was to add electronic transformation through filtering, which erased the distinction between instrumental and electronic music (Toop 2002, 495).
During the 1960s, a number of composers believed studio-based composition, such as musique concrète, lacked elements that were central to the creation of live music, such as: spontaneity, dialogue, discovery and group interaction. Many composers viewed the development of live electronics as a reaction against "the largely technocratic and rationalistic ethos of studio processed tape music" which was devoid of the visual and theatrical component of live performance (Sutherland 1994, 157). By the 1970s, live electronics had become the primary area of innovation in electronic music (Simms 1986, 395).
Laptronica is a form of live electronic music or computer music in which laptops are used as musical instruments. The term is a portmanteau of "laptop computer" and "electronica". The term gained a certain degree of currency in the 1990s and is of significance due to the use of highly powerful computation being made available to musicians in highly portable form, and therefore in live performance. Many sophisticated forms of sound production, manipulation and organization (which had hitherto only been available in studios or academic institutions) became available to use in live performance, largely by younger musicians influenced by and interested in developing experimental popular music forms (Emmerson 2007,[page needed]). A combination of many laptops can be used to form a laptop orchestra.
Live coding is also an increasingly popular technique in programming-related lectures and conference presentations, and has been described as a "best practice" for computer science lectures by MarkGuzdial (2011).
Electroacoustic improvisation (EAI) is a form of free improvisation that was originally referred to as live electronics. It has been part of the sound art world since the 1930s with the early works of John Cage (Schrader 1991,[page needed]; Cage 1960). Source magazine published articles by a number of leading electronic and avant-garde composers in the 1960s (Anon. & n.d.(a)).
Alvin Lucier - Music for Solo Performer (1965), North American Time Capsule (1967), Vespers (1968)
Johannes Fritsch - Partita (1965-66) for viola, contact microphones, tape recorder, filters, and potentiometers (4 players); Modulation 2 (1967), for 13 instruments and live electronics; Akroasis (1966-68) for large orchestra with jazz band, two singers, live electronics, hurdy-gurdy, music box, and newsreader
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Simms, Brian R. (1986). Music of the Twentieth Century: Style and Structure. New York: Schirmer Books; London: Collier Macmillan Publishers. ISBN0-02-872580-8.
Sutherland, Roger (1994). New Perspectives in Music. London: Sun Tavern Fields. ISBN0-9517012-6-6.
Toop, Richard. 2002. "Karlheinz Stockhausen". In Music of the Twentieth-Century Avant-Garde: A Biocritical Sourcebook, edited by Larry Sitsky, 493-99. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press. ISBN0-313-29689-8.
Andraschke, Peter (2001). "Dichtung in Musik: Stockhausen, Trakl, Holliger." In Stimme und Wort in der Musik des 20. Jahrhunderts, edited by Hartmut Krones, 341-55. Vienna: Böhlau. ISBN978-3-205-99387-2.
Bernal, Alberto, and João Miguel Pais (2008). "Endphase: Origin and Analysis of an Ongoing Project." eContact! 10.4--Temps réel, improvisation et interactivité en électroacoustique / Live-electronics -- Improvisation -- Interactivity in Electroacoustics (October). Montréal: CEC.
Burns, Christopher (2002). "Realizing Lucier and Stockhausen: Case Studies in the Performance Practice of Electronic Music." Journal of New Music Research 31, no. 1 (March): 59-68.
Cox, Christoph (2002). "The Jerrybuilt Future: The Sonic Arts Union, Once Group and MEV's Live Electronics." In Undercurrents: The Hidden Wiring of Modern Music, edited by Rob Young, pp. 35-44. London: Continuum. ISBN978-0-8264-6450-7.
Davies, Hugh (2001). "Gentle Fire: An Early Approach to Live Electronic Music." Leonardo Music Journal 11 ("Not Necessarily 'English Music': Britain's Second Golden Age"): 53-60.
Giomi, Francesco, Damiano Meacci, and Kilian Schwoon (2003). "Live Electronics in Luciano Berio's Music." Computer Music Journal 27, no. 2 (Summer): 30-46.