Digital music is becoming less a shortcut and more a new skill set. That was the topic under investigation at the latest Monthly Music Hackathon this past Saturday, inside Dumbo’s Etsy Labs. The theme was “Automatic Music.”
Jonathan Marmor is a co-organizer of the regular meetup, though he recently transplanted to Boston. He explained that it started after Soundcloud and The EchoNest first brought their music hacking event to New York (most recently in October) and so many inventive music makers turned out that a critical mass realized that they had plenty of people interested in musical experimentation and using technology to do it. So they launched a monthly hackathon that’s been going strong ever since.
The December Monthly Music Hackathon kicked off quietly in the morning, but as closer to 20 people assembled nearer to 11 a.m., attendees pitched their ideas.
By the end of the day, the room had more than doubled, some working on their own, some joining earlier teams, and later on, the more than two hours of presentations that wrapped up the event featured even more people.
. Here’s a snippet from a few of the projects we saw that night.
“Optimizing for minimum dissonance using a really inefficient algorithm” was a project about superimposing one melody on top of another melody. “When you make music algorithmically, efficiency is maybe not your goal,” Andreas Jansson explained, before letting us listen.
CJ Carr, from the Berklee College of Music, presented his latest progress on code that will allow him to separate the percussion and the melody from a song after it has all been mixed. He called it “Harmonic Percussive Source Separation with Median filtering + NMF.”
Live experimental music
Part of Sensorium Saxophone Orchestra, led by Ben Miller, turned out and helped different hackers demonstrate their creations live as well as playing a bit of one of their favorite experimental classics.
The music of an image
Thor Kell demonstrated Grid, a hack that breaks pictures down to their basic components and then lets you play sound off its core colors. He hopes to eventually be able to make a program that interprets artworks with internal patterns into music with patterns that mirror the artwork.
In Paul Osetinsky‘s “Fork This Sound,” a piece of open source music was taken, remixed and built upon dramatically.
Call Me Maybe blues cover
Julia Evans and her partner were able to hack “Call Me Maybe” and give it a blues vibe, calling it “Eel Am Cymbal.” She only played us a little. It was fun.
Tic Tac Toe instrumentation
This is what passed for musical notation in “Cargo Cult Nonet using Yin Yang Tic-Tac-Toe Sonification Notation.” Somehow Jason Das was able to instruct nine instrumentalists to follow the way two players conducted a game of Ultimate Tic-Tac-Toe to guide their play together. It worked. One of the players was this reporter, who lost.