slippery chicken is algorithmic music composition software that allows you to merge electronic and instrumental sound worlds. Originally devised for an individual, it has developed into an open-source system available to, and used by, a range of composers and shared internationally via recordings, workshops and lecture-concerts. The preparation for open-source release of the project was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

slippery chicken has been in development since 2000 when its creator, Michael Edwards, started working on specialised software to encapsulate his own compositional technique. Making it useful to a range of composers involved developing its general purpose algorithmic composition tools for an open-source release in 2012.

Participants in this process included a software testing and documentation technician, Sean Reed. Various performers were involved in demonstrating the work, internationally, including Per Rundberg (Sweden), Rei Nakamura (Japan), Garth Knox (Ireland), Gianpaolo Antongirolami (Italy), Yvonne Zehner (Austria) and Manuel de Roo (the Netherlands), who said “Playing this music I had a feeling I had never had before in a guitar piece: a feeling of complete harmonic integrity. It was really fun to play and it was fascinating too”.

Released in May 2012, slippery chicken generates complete pieces of music in score, sound file and MIDI file formats. It encapsulates unique compositional algorithms and encourages user extension through its object-oriented, open-source code. The software is supported by a comprehensive manual and other online documentation and examples. These include a surround and stereo release of Michael Edwards’ recorded works.

To promote and demonstrate the concepts, techniques and potential application of slippery chicken to users, including students and professional composers, two free, three-day workshops were held during the grant period: one in Edinburgh (in English); and one at the ZKM Institute for Music and Acoustics in Karlsruhe (in German and English). There were also spin-off events in Trento and Essen, talks in Bristol, Genoa, London and Edinburgh and lecture-concerts in Leeds, Naples, Stockholm, Ljubljana, Essen and Bonn.

Recordings of works created with slippery chicken for these events are available in high-definition surround and stereo versions, along with descriptive artwork. In November 2012, a new work created with the software, "for rei as a doe", featuring Rei Nakamura, was premiered at the Sound of Stockholm Festival in Sweden.

Development of the software has continued since the grant period ended in 2012. New pieces have been written with it by a number of composers and further talks on the software have been delivered in the UK, Thailand, Austria, and Portugal.

In June 2016, a symposium and concert of new works created with slippery chicken for the Disklavier (MIDI piano) took place at Goldsmiths College, London. In September 2016, Michael gave a week-long workshop on the software in Genoa, Italy, along with a concert featuring a new video to "for rei as a doe" which uses paintings by ECA artist Colin Lawson.

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Making it useful to a range of composers involved developing its general purpose algorithmic composition tools for an open-source release in 2012.


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