Coding music, unleashing powers

When Beethoven wrote the 9th Symphony, he encoded imagination and high-drama into musical notation — beats, bars, notes; a notation that can be unearthed, forked, and performed forever. Today, the ur-instrument that can perform anything, forever, is the computer. But electronic musicians, working with varied software from Ableton to Logic, don’t tend to use Beethoven’s standard.

They have different interfaces and standards, conceived in closed software studios. Music has yet to be open-sourced. It’s almost impossible to recreate and share its creative process, from the ground up.

Enter Sam Aaron, Cambridge computer science researcher and Meta-Ex band frontman. He encodes his music, live, in bits and bytes using a nimble and novel programming language of his own creation (derived from SuperCollider). The idea is simple, but big: expressing music digitally.

SonicPi — a simpler version of the language designed to run on Raspberry Pi — is taking the idea to kids. Write a simple command, hear a sound, loop it, create a bass-line. It offers kids the chance to do something incredible (immediate, imaginative) — to make code colorful, make it literally sing. We can’t wait to start forking it.