HAMR: The other music hack event this weekend

hamrLogoEarlier today I posted about the Hack Day model, my favorite hacks from Music Ed Hack 2013, and the human-centered design process behind Music Ed Hack. One might think that one music hack event in a weekend would be more than enough even for a city the size of New York City. They would be wrong.

A second music hack event was held in New York this past weekend – HAMR: Hacking Audio and Music Research – at Columbia University. This music hack event was part of a MONTHLY series of Music Hackathons in NYC. If I could have been in two places at once, this would have been the weekend to do so.

The proceedings (this is an academic hackathon, you know.) are now available. Here is a quick overview of two of the hacks I found particularly interesting and somewhat accessible for a non-researcher audience:

  • Remix.js graphs – “See your music as an electrical engineer sees it.” – By Thor Kell, The EchoNest.  Check the extensive list of hacks created with The EchoNest Remix API – http://echonest.github.io/remix/examples.html. You will be blown away by the kinds of creative and educational applications that the field of Music Information Retrieval can afford.
  • Respiration Phase Coordination – “If music can encourage stimulus synchronous respiration, what part of the respiration cycle is being aligned to the music?” – By Finn Upham, New York University. An empirical test to show how a music listener’s physical respiration rates map onto the beat cycle of particular songs.

There are more examples in the proceedings if you’d like to dive deeper, but most of these require specialized knowledge in music information retrieval and computational audio. The hacks generated at HAMR are the kinds of deep technologies that power higher level audio and music services such as Spotify, The EchoNest, as well as audio plugins you might find in ProTools or Ableton. Hackathons can be sources of innovation at all levels from entrepreneurial hacking to academic research. Also, HAMR gives out a cool prize:

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