Hackday: Live Coding Music

This was Julien’s hackday project.

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.

The demo

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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