Hi Albert! Could you give a brief introduction to who you are, where you’re from and what projects you are involved with in Linux audio?
I’m the head of the computer music research group at the Institute of Art History and Musicology at the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz, Germany. I’m a mathematician, computer scientist and hobby musician.
In the research and teaching I’m doing at the JGU my various interests in mathematics, computer programming and music all come together. And, since I’m an avid Linux fan since the early days, I do most of my development in Linux and of course we also use Linux systems for teaching computer music and related technologies.
My own research mostly deals with functional programming languages for computer music and multimedia applications; you can find an overview of the projects I’m currently working on at https://bitbucket.org/agraef/agraef.bitbucket.org.
When was the first time you attended LAC, and what was that like?
That must have been in 2004, which was the second conference at the ZKM. If I remember correctly, Fons Adriaensen demonstrated the very first version of his Aeolus organ there, and Paul Davis showed off his latest Ardour version. I also got to know other “regulars” in the Linux audio scene, like Dave Phillips, Fernando Lopez-Lezcano, as well as the folks from Grame (specifically, Yann Orlarey with whom I became friends and worked together on many projects in subsequent years).
I remember being flabberghasted at the size of the audience (must have been some 300 people), after all Linux audio was still pretty much in its infancy at the time, if you compare it to the system that we have today. It goes without saying that it was a fun conference.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay for the entire conference, but in the following year I returned, giving my first LAC talk, and I think that I haven’t missed a LAC ever since.
What’s your favourite thing about LAC, and do you have any favourite memories of past LAC:s?
For me, the most prominent feature of LAC is the healthy mix of academic research, software technology, practical applications and musical events. That makes for a great interdisciplinary combination of topics from different areas, which never gets boring.
Favourite moments? There were so many, but one of the highlights certainly was the 10th conference held at CCRMA, Stanford in 2012, which also was the first (and, up to now, the only) LAC held outside of Europe. The weather was gorgeous, the food was plenty, and, if you were lucky, you could find Dave Phillips, Julius Smith and other folks at CCRMA making music together in the off-conference hours.
What’s your advice to a first-year attendant like me? Anything I really should keep an eye out for?
Just this: Go there with an open mind and have fun. Of course, you’ll have ample opportunity to meet fellow musicians and interesting people from the Linux audio community. In the technical talks you can learn about the latest developments, and join the discussions about the future directions of Linux audio. Or you can attend workshops by developers and expert users about your favourite audio software, and get to know a few tricks that you won’t even find in the wikis. I certainly did!
Anything else you’d like to add to this short interview?
Nothing specific. Looking forward to meet you there!