Hackday: Live Coding Music


This was Julien’s hackday project.

1 The Blabla

This year, Caplin Hack Day’s theme was titled ‘Into the Unknown’. Basically, we were allowed to do anything as long as it was something new.
So I did what everyone else did: I looked at my weird-things-that-I-would-like-to-try-one-day list:

  • A neural network (using TensorFlow) that know if you are male or female after typing few line of text?
  • Meh… Kinda boring. And there’s a lot of chances of having no significant results.

  • A collar that deliver electric shocks to developer when they break the builds?
  • Hm… No… Not PC enough. People are not ready yet.

  • A rocket that can establish a colony on Mars?
  • Wait… I think someone is already working on that.

  • Using a language to generate music?
  • Oh ok… That’s actually quite feasible in one day. Also it could be quite fun to demonstrate!

I knew it was possible because few months (years?) ago, a post was trending on hackernews with a dude generating music with some code.
Few searches later, I found back the `Clojure` library allowing us to do that: `Overtone`.
After spending easily half of my 24h on trying to make `Overtone` and the `emacs` live-coding plugin work, the results were quite disappointing… However, it’s at this point that I discovered that Sam Aaron (the guy behind `Overtone`), also did a little something called `Sonic Pi`.
`Sonic Pi` is a mix between `Overtone`, a new language and an IDE. It’s an all-in-one solution that you can install on Mac, Windows and Linux and that let you focusing on the important part: Live Coding Music.

2 The demo

3 Conclusion

So, to conclude, and as the Pied Piper tale warned us, let’s keep in mind that music can be quite powerful in a hackathon.

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