Startups & Funding

Amsterdam Music Hack Day 2012: Humor, Hardware Hacks & Much More

MhdamsThe 2012 Amsterdam Music Hack Day took place over the weekend and it resulted in another unique group of projects. There's quite a bit of humor evident in these hacks that strike me as involving more creative whimsy than previous hack days. Also, more hacks than usual involved hardware.

I can't say this across the board in terms of the history of Music Hack Days but, of those I've covered, Amsterdam feels much more like a tech art or conceptual art gathering than any of the others.

This year's Amsterdam Music Hack Day occured March 25 and 25 at the Nederlands Instituut voor MediakunstSoundCloud was the most widely used service at this hackathon. 7digital also made an appearance in multiple apps which is interesting given that they're primarly an MP3 download store.

A number of the following hacks from Amsterdam Music Hack Day don't have demos. In previous posts, I've featured those with demos or graphics but many of these were really interesting idea so I think they're worth including. I've divided them into hardware and concept categories but many of the hardware hacks are quite interesting conceptually. Plus, a bonus category for hacks referencing Barack Obama.


"(aka MMMMM), the ThereminKaraokeSystem. Uses the MusixMatch API to find lyrics & subtitles; 'sings' them by theremin-controlled VoiceSynthesis."

It's raining bits!
"A musical umbrella which detects falling raindrops and turns them into 8bit music."

"Two hands on you[r] keyboard, you always though[t] 'i whish i had a third hand to control all these buttons'… well you can…use you[r] face to control these buttons."

Bluetooth MIDI interface
"This project is a proof of concept that you can transmit and receive MIDI over Bluetooth. Using the circuit, you can convert any battery-powerable MIDI device to a wireless MIDI device. The circuit can be powered with batteries, too."

"A text to speech to speech recognition app. Let your phone talk to itself." Technically a software hack but it features hardware and the inspiration of Alvin Lucier.


"I was impressed, when I first visited the website that invited to #musichackday Amsterdam this year. They listed 17 APIs to hack with…These soundwich-recipes take data and process them through modules that are rendered as the filling of the sandwich."

"Remix a track by reshuffling its bars based on how well different pieces fit together." Demo seems to be having problems but check out this cool graph.

Flips the concept of This Is My Jam to find a track likely to please your friends. "It's a bad idea" but the "social marketing ghost is everywhere!"

"Every hour we get the hottest animated gifs from reddit/r/gifs, find out their period in seco[n]ds, divide by a magic number then search the echonest for tracks on that BPM. Play them all as a layed back playlist on spotify."

"In an effort to party like it's 1899, this service allows you to create and share morse coded audio messages, posting them to your soundcloud account or to another soundcloud user's dropbox."

"An entirely client-side Javascript application which pulls data from OpenStreetMap and then generates audio tones on the client using the HTML5 Audio API to convert the feature information into sound."

The awesometastic lyrics frobnifier
"You enter a user name, and then it contacts MusixMatch and retrieves the lyrics of your 250 top tracks (according to your profile). It frobnifies the lyrics into a mish mash of words (existing and non-existing)."

EML2MLW 3000
"Transform Robots' EMC Chatter to mechanical longitudinal waves and blast them to pieces. Please bring earplugs."


"Experiments with Quartz Composer as a visualiser for beatboxing. On the occasion of the upcoming Beatbox Battle World Championship…On the BeatBarack patch, Getty Images' RSS feed is queried [for] Obama images, buffers them, and displays them on the cubes."

"A music game which is an homage to name-drops, inspired by the true king of namedrops: The Game." Barack Obama is thanked.


Hypebot Features Writer Clyde Smith maintains his business writing hub at Flux Research, music industry resources at Music Biz Blogs and is relaunching All World Dance. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.

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