dewdrop world

Music for dancing
Music for thinking
Music for breathing
Music for love
Music for life

“This dewdrop world,
is the dewdrop world.
And yet … and yet …”
– haiku by Issa

dewdrop_world is the performing name of H. James Harkins (b. 1970), a live computer musician based in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.

dewdrop_world began his creative life as a composer of dense, dissonant and generally disorganized chamber music, but abandoned this path in 1995 upon realizing the common ground between minimalism and danceclub music. Sensing the creative possibilities of applying harmonic and formal sophistication to the vibrant sonic and textural landscape of the danceclub, he turned to the computer, initially working with MIDI gear to produce perplexing and searching dance music for listening. This work culminated in a doctoral dissertation, ‘brightening’, for four saxophones and recorded electronics.

In the last several years, dewdrop_world has been designing his own software for live algorithmic composition and performance, using the state of the art audio programming language, SuperCollider. Musical material input from a MIDI keyboard can be mangled, looped and overlapped in real time to maintain dynamic, evolving textures over long time spans. The result occupies the middle ground between composition and improvisation, and charts new territory in using automated calculation to produce works of space, heart and spirit.

H. James Harkins studied composition with Michael Schelle at Butler University (B.A. 1993, summa cum laude), and Stephen Jaffe, Sidney Corbett and Scott Lindroth at Duke University (Ph.D. 2001). He is also an enthusiast of traditional and ethnic flutes, having studied the modern flute with Loretta Contino at Butler, and Baroque flute with Rebecca Troxler at Duke.


'Now is your only chance' (2004): A collaboration with free-jazz pianist and composer Christopher Adler, performed in Philadelphia in March 2004. The live electronics use prototypes of algorithms developed further in the current incarnation of the software.

'Lament' (2005): Ambient harmony, produced live in supercollider.

'Got an itch to scratch' (2006): Played live at the SuperCollider Symposium, Birmingham UK, July 2006. Breaks, granular synthesis, live flute, lots of fun.

'Sangha flower' (2006): Played live at the 8th Anniversary of the Mindfulness Practice Center of Fairfax in Oakton, VA, 28 October 2006. Most of the sound is granular processing of a Chinese flute, which I played live in the performance.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License.

Contact information


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Code libraries

Code libraries are released under the Creative Commons Lesser GNU Public License.