Posts Tagged fun

Minimizing my Karaoke pain

Rumor has it from some of the Echo Nest gang that went to Stockholm last week for new employee orientation that there is some sort of mandatory Karaoke requirement.  Now for some, I’m sure this is great fun, but for others, like myself, not so much.  I thought it would be best to prepare for my own mandatory Karaoke by finding some very short songs in order to minimize my time on stage.   To do this I went through  a database of the top Billboard songs of the last 60 years to find the shortest songs.   Here are some of the top shortest popular songs of the last 60 years:

Length(Seconds) Artist/Title Date
76 Anna Kendrick Cups 2013-01-14
78 Zac Efron What I’ve Been Looking For (Reprise) 2006-02-13
83 Buchanan & Goodman Santa And The Satellite (Part I) 1957-12-25
92 Audrey Dear Elvis (Page 1) 1956-09-24
96 Fats Domino Whole Lotta Loving 1958-11-19
98 Glee Cast Isn’t She Lovely 2011-05-30
99 Maurice Williams & The Zodiacs Stay 1960-10-05
101 Swinging Blue Jeans, The Hippy Hippy Shake 1964-03-09
103 Peter, Paul & Mary Settle Down (Goin’ Down That Highway) 1963-01-21
105 Four Tops Ain’t That Love 1965-08-02
105 Fats Domino Shu Rah 1961-03-22
105 Chuck Berry Let It Rock 1960-02-03
107 Lucas Gabreel & Ashley Tisdale Bop To The Top 2006-02-13
107 Beach Boys, The Little Deuce Coupe 1963-08-19
107 Clyde McPhatter Lover Please 1962-03-05
108 Ventures, The Hawaii Five-O 1969-03-10
110 Glee Cast Sing! 2010-11-01
110 Glee Cast It’s My Life / Confessions Part II 2009-10-26
110 Ricky Nelson If You Can’t Rock Me 1963-04-22

So it looks like my minimum possible karaoke pain will be 76 seconds if I go with Anna Kendrick’s Cups. Certainly better than Gun’s in Roses November Rain at 8:57 seconds or  Don Mclean’s American Pie at 6:49. But better yet, I can go with Hawaii Five-O . That song is not only short, but has no vocals.  With that song I’m sure to be pitch perfect!

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What happens at a Music Hack Day?

So what is a Music Hack Day really like?  Here’s a quick rundown of some of the things that will happen at the Music Hack Day.

9AM – 10AM Saturday morning – Registration – hackers start to arrive between 9AM and 10AM for registration.

 

Welcome to the Microsoft NERD

 

You get your badge, wander around the venue (which is graciously provided by Microsoft) have a muffin and a cup of coffee and meet up with old friends and / or make new friends.

 

Smiling faces greet you at MHD Registration

 

 

Informal hacking space at the NERD

 

This is a good time to start scoping around for hacking partners if you think you might need some help building a hack.  If you want to get a head start in connecting with other hackers consider posting to the Ideas page on the Music Hack Day Boston Wiki.

 

Group hacking

 

 

Meet interesting people at Music Hack Day

 

 

10AM – Opening remarks - someone will walk you through the weekend, and give you an idea of what to expect, and tell you all the important info like where the bathrooms are.

 

Dave Haynes kicks of Music Hack Day London

 

10:15 – Lightning pitches – a big part of the Music Hack Day is the sharing of knowledge about various music-related technologies, whether it’s an API, a library, technique, hardware gizmo.  During the lightning pitches, everyone who has a technology that they’d like to talk about gives a 60 second description of their technology.

 

Getting ready for the lightning rounds

 

11:00 Morning Workshops – The morning workshops are 15 to 20 minute overviews of a particular technology.  There may be be 10 to 20 workshops run in a two hour period.  Depending on the number workshop, there may be more than one track, so pay attention during the lightning pitches to figure out which workshops you’d like to attend.

 

Waiting for the workshops to start

 

Some companies offer prizes to the best hack that uses their technology.  If you want to try to win something cool like a concert tickets, an iPad, or some cash, pay attention to the workshops to see who is giving out prizes.

 

The Echo Nest workshop

 

 

The Songkick workshop

 

1:00PM Lunch time – lunch is free – but don’t let it stop you from hacking.

 

Eat or hack?

 

2:00PM Hacking commences - after lunch – formal hacking begins. You have 24 hours to build something cool that is related to music. Hacking will finish up at 2:30PM on Sunday.

 

Hacking commences

 

2:00PM Afternoon workshops – In the afternoon, there are some in-depth workshops where you can learn how to build or do something.  The workshops (as with everything at the Music Hack Day), is optional, you can chose to attend a workshop or find a quiet spot and work on your hack.   Some of the workshops may be scheduled on an ad hoc basis (anyone can put on a workshop, just post a note on the ‘workshops board’).  There are 3 hardware oriented workshops, at the Boston Music Hack Day that will give you an opportunity to build or interact with hardware (a rare thing for many of us software types).

Pen plotter & Chiplotle workshop Douglas Repetto and Brian Whitman will show you how to plot your beautiful music visualizations or whatever else on quite possibly the sexiest of all paper output mechanisms — early 1980s HPGL pen plotters! You’ll learn how to use Chiplotle, a Python bridge for live HPGL drawing control, and we’ll have a a few plotters on hand for everyone to use.  Plus, there will be plotters available for hacking after the workshop.

plotter.jpg
More info:

Electric Eels Workshop

“Electric Eels” workshop - by Noah Vawter – This project introduces a mobile platform for electronic music instruments.  It encouragesplaying them more like traditional instruments.  The new techniques this project introduces extend the role of electricity generation – Electrical energy for every note comes from its players’ movements.

Atari Punk Console workshop

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3438/3923062090_719757c150.jpg

Jimmie Rodgers will lead a workshop on building Atari Punk Consoles. The Atari Punk Console is a simple synthesizer with a wide range of sounds. It is so named because the sounds generated are similar to those of the early Atari consoles. In this workshop you will learn the basics of the timing circuits used to make these crazy sounds. You will also learn how to solder, and how to change the the sounds with your fingers as the contact, or even using light to make a simple light Theremin.

 

Jimmie's workshop

 

All parts and tools included in the costs. Additional parts will be available, so you will be able to customize your APC with lights, touch contacts, photo resistors, etc. You are encouraged to find a fun case for your APC and bring it (cigar box, mint tin, Mr. Potato Head other plastic toy, etc), anything hollow that can hold a deck of cards would do. If you do not have a case, then Altoid tins will be available at the workshop.

 

Hardware hacking

 

6PM – Dinner – At 6PM the pizzas arrive. Get a slice or two and some soda (the beer comes later), and get back to your hack.  Remember, eating and sleeping is for the weak

 

Eating is for the weak

 

9:30 PM – Leg stretching time. – Hacking continues until around 9:30 PM when the Microsoft NERD will close. At that point hacking shifts to the Echo Nest (a few  T stops away).

 

Onto the T to get to the Echo Nest

 

10:00 PM Hacking Continues at the Echo Nest

 

The Echo Nest offices

 


The venue for overnight hacking is at the Echo Nest in Davis Square – 4 stops away on the T from the main venue.  At the Echo Nest there will be some beer, some live music provided by Javelin, and plenty of comfortable hacking space for the hardcore hackers.

 

Late night hacking

 

Overnight hacking is where all the magic happens.

 

Overnight hacking in London

 

 

Overnight hacking at the Echo Nest

 

8AM Sunday Morning – On Sunday morning, hacking finishes up at the Echo Nest and will return to the Microsoft NERD at 9AM, where you’ll find some more coffee and light breakfast.  Hacking continues thorough lunch.

 

Remember, eating is for the weak.

 

2:30 PM Hacking finishes. By 2:30 PM you should have information about your hack posted to the wiki.  Only hacks included on the wiki by 2:30 PM will be included in the final presentations.

 

Last minute hacking

 

3:00 PM – Final Demos – This is the time to show your stuff!  Once all the hacks are complete, everyone will move to the big room for the hack demos. We’ll be joined by about 100 non-hackers who are here to see all the demos.   During the demo time, everyone who managed to get a hack listed onto the hacks wiki by 2:30 will get 2 minutes to present their hack.

 

Giving a demo - Flight of the bumble bee on guitar

 

There will be people from the music industry, the press, and the tech world in attendance so it doesn’t hurt to try to make your 2 minutes in the spotlight memorable.    We should have two projectors setup so each hack presenter should have 2 minutes to setup and then 2 minutes to present.

 

Demoing the big piano

 

 

Ben demos the roomba recon

 

 

Giving good demo is fun

 

We will be ruthless with the timing. When your 2 minutes are up,  we’ll start the next demo, so make sure you get to the point quickly

5:00 PM  – final awards – At 5PM the panel of judges will gather to pick the winners of the prizes, and present the awards.  But of course, everyone is a winner.

 

Announcing the prize winners

 

6:00PM – After all is done, we will find a local pub to get some refreshment.

 

Time for a beer

 

It is sure to be a good time.

Photos from flickr photographers:  Elizabeth Thomsen,  Dave Haynes, Thomas Bonte, Ben Reyes, Brad Searles, aroscoe, habber,  David Noël, imelda, James Wheare, narq,

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The Name Dropper

TL;DR;  I built a game called Name Dropper that tests your knowledge of music artists.

One bit of data that we provide via our web APIs is Artist Familiarity.  This is a number between 0 and 1 that indicates how likely it is that someone has heard of that artists.    There’s no absolute right answer of course – who can really tell if Lady Gaga is more well known than Barbara Streisand or  whether Elvis is more well known than Madonna. But we can certainly say that The Beatles are more well known, in general, than Justin Bieber.

To make sure our familiarity scores are good, we have a Q/A process where a person knowledgeable in music ranks our familiarity score by scanning through a list of artists ordered in descending familiarity until they start finding artists that they don’t recognize.  The further they get into the list, the better the list is.  We can use this scoring technique to rank multiple different familiarity algorithms quickly and accurately.

One thing I noticed, is that not only could we tell how good our familiarity score was with this technique, this also gives a good indication of how well the tester  knows music.  The further a tester gets into a list before they can’t recognize artists, the more they tend to know about music.   This insight led me to create a new game:  The Name Dropper.

The Name Dropper is a simple game.  You are presented with a list of dozen artist names.  One name is a fake, the rest are real.

If you find the fake, you go onto the next round, but if you get fooled, the game is over.    At first, it is pretty easy to spot the fakes, but each round gets a little harder,  and sooner or later you’ll reach the point where you are not sure, and you’ll have to guess.  I think a person’s score is fairly representative of how broad their knowledge of music artists are.

The biggest technical challenge in building the application was coming up with a credible fake artist name generator.  I could have used Brian’s list of fake names – but it was more fun trying to build one myself.  I think it works pretty well.  I really can’t share how it works since that could give folks a hint as to what a fake name might look like and skew scores (I’m sure it helps boost my own scores by a few points).  The really nifty thing about this game is it is a game-with-a-purpose.  With this game I can collect all sorts of data about artist familiarity and use the data to help improve our algorithms.

So go ahead, give the Name Dropper a try and see if you can push me out of the top spot on the leaderboard:

Play the Name Dropper


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I want …

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Getting Ready for Boston Music Hack Day

hackday.1.1.1.1

Boston Music Hack Day starts in exactly 10 days.  At the Hack day you’ll have about 24 hours of hacking time to build something really cool.   If you are going to the Hack Day you will want to maximize your hacking time, so here are a few tips to help you get ready.

  • Come with an idea or two but be flexible – one of the really neat bits about the Music Hack Day is working with someone that you’ve never met before. So have a few ideas in your back pocket, but keep your ears open on Saturday morning for people who are doing interesting things, introduce yourself and maybe you’ve made a team.  At previous hack days all the best hacks seem to be team efforts.  If you have an idea that you’d like some help on, or if you are just looking for someone to collaborate with, check out and/or post to the Music Hack Day Ideas Wiki.
  • Prep your APIs – there  are a number of  APIs that you might want to use to create your hack. Before you get to the Hack Day you might want to take a look at the APIs, figure out which ones you might want to use- and get ready to use them.  For instance, if you want to build music exploration and discovery tools or apps that remix music, you might be interested in the Echo Nest APIs.   To get a head start for the hack day before you get there you should register for an API Key,  browse the API documentation then check out our resources page for code examples and to find a client library in your favorite language.
  • Decide if you would like to win a prize – Of course the prime motivation is for hacking is the joy of building something really neat – but there will be some prizes awarded to the best hacks.  Some of the prizes are general prizes – but some are category prizes (‘best iPhone /  iPod hacks’) and some are company-specific prizes (best application that uses the Echo Nest APIs).  If you are shooting for a specific prize make sure you know what the conditions for the prize are.  (I have my eye on the Ultra 24 workstation and display, graciously donated by my Alma Mata).

To get the hack day jucies flowing check out this nifty slide deck on Music Hackday created by Henrik Berggren:

 

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    Where is my JSpot?

    I like Spotify.  I like Java.  So I combined them.  Here’s a Java client for the new Spotify metadata API:  JSpot

    This client lets you do things like search for a track by name and get the Spotify ID for the track so you can play the track in Spotify.  This is useful for all sorts of things like building web apps that use Spotify to play music, or perhaps to build a Playdar resolver so you can use Spotify and Playdar together.

    Here’s some sample code that prints out the popularity and spotify ID for all versions of Weezer’s  ‘My Name Is Jonas’.

        Spotify spotify = new Spotify();
        Results<Track> results = spotify.searchTrack("Weezer",  "My name is Jonas");
        for (Track track : results.getItems()) { 
           System.out.printf("%.2f %s \n", track.getPopularity(), track.getId());
        }
    

    This prints out:

    0.75 spotify:track:3Lyv4TVrqSXeCm1GVUw7VG
    0.00 spotify:track:5tyHxEsVUFUsb1yzAObAxu
    0.09 spotify:track:4etev8JAC5cOJ3cgkZcpyc

    If you have Spotify and you click on those links, and those tracks are available in your locale you should hear Weezer’s nerd anthem.

    You can search for artists, albums and tracks and you can get all sorts of information back such as release dates for albums, countries where the music can be played, track length, popularity for artists, tracks and albums.  It is very much a 0.1 release. The search functionality is complete so its quite useful, but I haven’t implemented the ‘lookup’ methods yet.   There some javadocs.  There’s a jar file: jspot.jar.  And it is all open source: jspot at google code.

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    Music Playlist quiz followup

    I had a playlist quiz the other day. To recap, I asked, given a set of 6 songs, find the organizing principal and pick a new good song for the playlist.   A few attempted to extend the playlist, but only Adam offered a successful match.   Here are the seed songs, but this time I also include the album art – which may help you decide what songs fit and what don’t:

    • Made to measure – Umphrey’s McGeez
    • Diablo Rojo – Rodrigo Y Gabriella
    • Livin’ Thing – Electric Light Orchestra
    • Two Step – Dave Matthew’s Band
    • Vortex – Burst
    • Almost Honest – Megadeth

    Adam’s suggestion of XTC’s Wake up fits well:

    We’ll call this playlist, the squared circle.  There are lots more potential album covers for albums in this genre on Flickr: squaredcircle

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