Posts Tagged ‘hacking’

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Music Hack Day, the Stockholm edition

January 31, 2010

This weekend was Music Hack Day Stockholm (you may recall posts about the Music Hack Day in Boston a few months ago), and I spent far too much of my weekend following the events via their live feed – a little glimpse into the future of  how we interact with music.  I think my takeaway for the weekend was twofold: i) damn it, I really wish I wasn’t a mediocre coder and ii) Can we hurry up and have Spotify in the US already?

Some fave hacks out of the weekend (you can see a full list here):

HacKey: Matt Ogle‘s lovely hack takes your Last.fm listening history and generates a pie chart to tell you what proportion of your favourite music is in different keys. And if you click on a wedge, it’ll play you a song sample in that key (thanks to Tim for letting me use his pie chart!)

My City vs. Your City: Lets you compare what artists are being listened to in any two cities. I think it’s ‘differentially listened to’ (like Netflix’s ‘Neighborhood’ feature). This is kind of a cool music exploration tool – what are the outlier artists that I’ve never heard of?

Holodeck: This site elegantly links together your info from SoundCloud, Tumblr, Songkick, and Last.fm. The main use case is for artists – it’s a one-step, one-stop web presence.

One that looks great but isn’t quite ready for prime time:

Songkick on Tour: This hack links together info from two focused social media sites,  Songkick for concerts and Dopplr for travel, to make concert recommendations for your upcoming trips. Since I travel a decent amount and always check to see if there are cool shows, I would love to see this app go live (you can see a video of the demo here). And now I want to start using both Songkick and Dopplr more.

And one that I really, really want to play with but I can’t because Spotify isn’t here in the US yet (but if you’re reading this from the UK or other Spotify-friendly countries, enjoy):

TuneMyFeed: Takes any RSS feed (a Twitter stream, frex) or uses Facebook Connect to log into your FB account, pulls out keywords, and creates a list of related songs in Spotify. Want.

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Music Hack Day Boston: the art of noise

November 25, 2009

I promised myself that I would actually make something at Music Hack Day Boston, not just hang out while other people made stuff. So I signed up for circuit bender Jimmie Rodgers‘s newbie workshop on making an Atari Punk Console, a simple synthesizer that Jimmie designed and has made available as a kit. It uses a two-up timing chip to drive a speaker which, when tweaked with a pair of potentiometers, makes some very fun electronic squeals. The whole circuit fits into an Altoids tin.

So, while all the real hackers got going on their projects, I settled myself down with a kit and a soldering iron, surrounded by a tableful of kindred spirits. Three of the fastest hours of my life later, I found myself delightedly pushing buttons and turning knobs to  make weird noises come out of my circuit. It was fantastic to reconnect with the pleasure of actually building something and having it work (that’s my handmade synth in the picture above).

I also discovered a new measure of awesomeness in teaching, one that’s so much better than the standard end-of-course evaluations: a whole bunch of Jimmie’s students (myself included) bought him drinks that night at the Echo Nestival.

You can look through a photo gallery, listen to Jimmie talk about circuit bending, and hear some of the great sounds in this piece for NHPR.

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Music Hack Day Boston: roundup

November 23, 2009

Right. So. The lights went out on my laptop this weekend. Literally, as it happened: the backlight on my screen died, and my plans to liveblog the Boston Music Hack Day died with it. So here’s a roundup instead.

Laptop or no, it was a great weekend, with three excellent panels and lots of hacking, including 30+ demos shown off on Sunday afternoon, and an amazing number of interesting conversations. Anthony Volodkin, a founder of Hype Machine, wrote a clear (and laudatory) summary here. You can also check out the PublicSpaces Lab post here, and there’s an annotated list of all the projects at Indie Music TechJen Nathan did a fun piece on NHPR’s Word of Mouth on the circuit bending contingent (more on that in the next post). If you prefer your reportage a little more à la minute, check out the Twitter hashtag #musichackday for observations and soundbites.

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Music Hack Day Boston, Nov 21

November 21, 2009

10 am: Saturday, November 21st:

I am a nerd imposter. Paul Lamere just announced that the primary activity for this weekend is hacking, and that everything else is optional. As someone who spends way more time doing experimentation and analysis than coding and soldering, I’m suddenly realizing that I’m the wrong kind of nerd.

I’m at Microsoft NERD’s sunny offices on the Charles River in Cambridge, in a room full of the right kind of nerd: people who are excited about spending the weekend creating at the intersection of music and technology. It’s still pretty early on Saturday morning, and the auditorium space is only about half-full (I guess the hackers are conserving their energy for some overnight hacking in the Echo Nest offices). Right now we’re listening to elevator pitches from companies like SoundCloud, SongKick, Collecta, Tapulous and more, all of whom are sharing their toys.

In a pleasant break from tradition, we ended the opening session twenty minutes early – let the hacking begin!

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Vivian Darkbloom’s Wii Guitar

October 30, 2009

Finally, rock star guitar posturing is being put to good use! Rob Morris, frontman of Cambridge, MA’s Vivian Darkbloom, uses a Wii remote to control his guitar effects. The position and acceleration sensors in the controller, fixed to the body of his guitar, lets him access a range of effects by how he holds his instrument (check out the video above to see it in action, or this one for more background).

You can check out the Wii Guitar in person tonight (Friday, October 30th)  in Cambridge—Vivian Darkbloom has a gig at TT the Bear’s. Doors at 8 pm.

And I can’t help but think that Rob Morris should get together with John Mileham of The Franklin Kite.

MP3: Vivian Darkbloom – Cold War