Posts Tagged guestpost

The Tufts Hackathon

Last weekend, Barbara Duckworth and Jennie Lamere teamed up at the Tufts Hackathon to build a music hack. Here’s Barbara’s report from the hackathon:


Jen Lamere and Barbara Duckworth presenting:

Cinemusic – created at Tufts Hackathon

For our second hack day, Jen Lamere and I were wildly successful. Going into the Tufts hackathon, we knew that we wanted to create a hack involving music, but we didn’t want the hassle of having to make hardware to go along with it, like in our last hack, HighFive Hero.

CineMusicSmallAs we were walking to the building in which the hackathon was held, we decided on making a program that would suggest a movie based on its soundtrack. The user would tell us their favorite artists, and we would find a movie soundtrack that contained similar music, the idea being that if you like the soundtrack, the movie would also be of your tastes. So, lets say you have an unnatural love for Miley Cyrus. Type that in, and our music-to-movie program would tell you to watch Another Cinderella Story, with Selena Gomez on the soundtrack. With Selena also being a Disney Channel star and of similar singing caliber, the suggestion makes sense.

Barbie and Jen hacking away (photo by  Ming Chow)

Barbie and Jen hacking away (photo by Ming Chow)

We used The Echo Nest API to search for similar artists, and with the help of Paul Lamere, utilized Spotify’s fantastic tagging system to compile a huge data file of artists and soundtracks, which we then sorted through. We also added a cool last-minute feature using the Spotify API, which would start playing the soundtrack right as the movie suggestion was given. Jen and I hope to iron out any bugs that are currently in our program, and turn it into a web app.



Our (if I do say so myself) pretty awesome hack, combined with our amateur status, won us the rookie award at Tufts Hackathon! Jen and I will both be proudly wearing our new “GitHub swag” and we will hopefully find a way to put the AWS credits to good use. Thank you to everyone at Tufts, for organizing such a fantastic event!


Barbara and Jennie reviewing their swag options


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High Five Hero


A guest post by Jennie Lamere.  This weekend, I had the pleasure of attending MIT’s Music Hack Day with my friend Barbie. We, along with about 250 others, worked all weekend to develop a music hack. In the twenty four hours we had, Barbie and I collectively slept a mere 6 hours. After endless cups of coffee and soda, we finally emerged with our hack, “High Five Hero.”

Our hack was a remixing tool driven by MaKey MaKey. MaKey Makey, created by Jay Silver and Eric Rosenbaum, is a device that plugs into computers, allowing virtually anything to be used in place of a keyboard. For our hack, we took four beats from various songs and made it so that each completed circuit yielded a different beat – the song could be remixed by completing the circuit in different orders. While neither Barbie nor I knew Javascript or html at the beginning of the weekend, we were well-versed in it by the end. A few hours in, we had the basic code written, so we decided to add more to the hack. We added a game mode, in which the two users must complete the circuit in specific patterns to play the song. We also added an “Expert’s Only” mode, in which combo moves must be done in order to play a beat.

While writing the code itself wasn’t exactly easy, we left the hack day around 8:00 on Saturday feeling very confident – all we had left to do was add the hardware component. Our idea was to have the MaKey Makey hooked up so that when we high fived, a circuit would be completed. However, we couldn’t get the MaKey MaKey set up in such a manner that the beats would all play at the same time. After gloves, tape, wire, more tape, aluminum and even more tape, we finally got the MaKey MaKey set up. This time, we were the problem – we could not get our timing to align in a way that would make the music sound good. We decided to abandon our original idea, and try to hook the MaKey MaKey up to something else besides our hands. After hours of brainstorming, we decided to go back to our original idea, but place the points for the MaKey MaKey in different places – one on each hand, and one on each knee. This seemed to work better, and the sound produced began to sound like music.

Barbie and I were extremely proud of our first music hack- High Five Hero. Despite being extremely nervous for our demo, showing off our hack seemed to go over well! We loved being able to talk to the other hackers, and seeing what they did. We are excited to attend our next Hack Day together!


Editor: I took a video of the demo presentation of High Five Hero. Apologies for the unsteady hand:


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