Abbey Road’s Dom Dronska who led our first ever 36-hour Hackathon tells us about last weekend’s creative marathon
It’s day four after our first hack and the adrenaline is slowly dropping, my steps are slower and finally I begin to talk sense. We are slowly getting back to reality, to life after the hackathon.
It’s a moment of reflection with a little bit of sadness, as it was such a unique, high powered, dreamy experience, including a mechanical techno set from DJ Graham Dunning in the middle of the night, with live code appearing on the giant screen, surrounded by magical projections onto the walls of Studio One. With 50 PhD students from music information retrieval, computer science and audio development and machine learning plus 40 of the most innovative performers and producers in the room, we had enough brain power to send the sound of the studios to the moon - which we did during the ‘moonbounce’ the following morning! (sending sound of the studios to the moon). With no sleep and surrounded by cabling, drawings, cups of coffee and different languages (spoken and coded), we worked through the night to devise the incredible and unseen concepts of our amazing music hackers that would be revealed the next morning.
Journalist Stuart Dredge from MusicAlly describes the array of ideas:
“An AI-powered rap-battle opponent that listens to your freestyles then responds with a punchline. A mobile app for people to jam together on their phones. A VR and AR synthesizer where you make music by kicking objects in the virtual space. And an additive synthesis effect created by the audience pressing vegetables on their screens.”
Our true congratulations to everyone who took part.
Main Prize from Microsoft for the best use of AI: Team Rapple AI Powered Rap Battle Opponent, which listens to your freestyle on a beat and responds to you with a punch line to the same line. Not only it does it work in real time, but it also relates the punch line to your freestyle and gets better during the battle. Team members: Giorgia Cantisani (we met Giorgia at HAMMER hack in Paris during the ISMIR conference, where she won the Golden Ticket to Abbey Road Red Hackathon), Ondrej Cifka, Diego Di Carlo, Kilian Schulze-Forster,Tim Christian Kirby, Alejandro Delgado Luezas Second Main Prize from Miquido for the Best User-Friendly Thinking Team HRMNI Alex & Bridgette Powell, Pedro Leonardo Garlaschi, Rob Hyde, Glyn Hanmer A mobile app allowing multiple users to create sounds on their phone and control them by moving closer to each other.
The London Field Brewery Prize, Team XtraSynth Tomasz Rudzki, Pedro Sanchez Alvarez, Ed Storey A VR and AR Synthesizer, creating a hyper-realistic XR experience, where you generate music by kicking the objects in the VR space.
The Jury’s Choice Prize (with a bag full of audio gadgets provided by Hackoustic and Juce), Amy Dickens for SoundSoup SoundSoup is an additive synthesis effect, created by the audience pressing a vegetable image on their screen. Each vegetable is different and is assigned to a different frequency from an array of one fundamental and 13 harmonics.
The Chirp Prize, Team La Vaca Cega Robert Blaauboer, Guillem Cortès Sebastià, Joe Munday A distributed speaker, which was an unexpected outcome of their attempt to synchronise multiple devices using Chirp. Team La Vaca Cega said: "Imagine if you could utilise the crowd as your distributed speaker" and they sent sound to all the mobile devices in the room, the delay caused by internal clocks created a beautiful distorted sound effect passing in waves across the room.
The Queen Mary University Prize, Team xAmplR Adrian Holder, Alex Milanov A user-friendly browser-based sampler connected to an unlimited free library from Audio Commons.
The Cloudinary Prize, Team Crator Aleix Claramunt, Kristian Ruud, Daniel Balcells, Enric Calabuig, Francesc Lluis, Aritad Choicharoon A tool to help DJs when organising and creating their music catalogue.
Congratulations to the winners
With a massive thank you to all the participants, tech partners and sponsors we can finally catch up on our sleep and get back to normal life, interrupted only by some wonderful messages from across the world about what a privilege it was to sleep for 15 minutes on the 87 year-old Studio One floor, once walked on by Sir Edward Elgar. We already miss the rush of the hack and, despite the exhaustion, are beginning to itch to do it all again.