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Music Hack Day

May 14, 2013

More than 100 technology and music enthusiasts will join forces with coders, designers and industry representatives to create new music-related technology during the first Music Hack Day in Philadelphia.

A 24-hour marathon of conceptualizing, hacking and coding with the goal of designing the future of music technology will bring artists, engineers, musicians, programmers and enthusiasts from around the region to Drexel’s Expressive and Creative Interaction Technologies (ExCITe) Center on May 18-19. Drexel’s Music Hack Day will be the 12th such event worldwide and the first time that it has been held in Philadelphia.

Since 2009 more than 2,000 participants have helped design new musical technology, software, hardware, instruments, art and web apps as part of the challenge. At Drexel, more than 100 people are expected to attend with the goal of inventing new, innovative musical technology.

“Music Hack Day is a prime example of the creativity and innovation that is driven by the intersection of technology and the arts,” said ExCITe Center Director Dr. Youngmoo Kim. “Our students in the Music and Entertainment Technology Laboratory and the ExCITe Center know this firsthand. We’re very pleased to be hosting the first Music Hack Day in Philadelphia, and we hope to make it an annual event.”

Participants will help draw inspiration from a performance by local jazz and funk group, The Dirk Quinn Band, featuring the ExCITe Center’s real-time music visualizations. They will perform live at the ExCITe Center the evening of Saturday, May 18. At the conclusion of the event, the afternoon of Sunday May 19, all of the new technology “hacks” will be demonstrated and prizes will be awarded for the best designs.

The first Music Hack Day was held in July of 2009 at the offices of The Guardian newspaper, where 200 developers turned out about 35 music-related hacks. Since then, Music Hack Days have been held in Iceland, Scotland, Spain, Australia, the Netherlands, Sweden, Canada, Germany, and France and domestically in Boston, San Francisco and New York.

The event is coming to Philadelphia for the first time thanks to Drexel partnering with the Echo Nest, the industry’s leading music intelligence company that provides developers with the deepest understanding of music content and fans through its open developer application programing interface.

“We are excited to bring Music Hack Day to Philadelphia for an event where people passionate about music and technology get together to build music-related hacks that will drive the future of music technology – anything goes,” said Paul Lamere, director of The Echo Nest Developer Platform. “With Philly's strong tech and music scenes, we expect to see some fantastic innovations come out of the weekend.” 

The event is one of several hackathon-type activities that will be hosted by the ExCITe Center with support from the Knight Arts Challenge award that it recently received. Since its opening in the fall of 2012, the Center has been helping to grow collaborative research and innovation in the city. Last month, ExCITe hosted the International Space Apps Challenge presented by NASA and a musical technology event called “The Science of Jazz” as part of the Philadelphia Science Festival. This July, a group of high school students will also participate through the annual Summer Music Technology program, hosted for the first time at ExCITe.

“At ExCITe, a key part of our mission is to promote education and learning at all levels in terms of science, technology, engineering, arts and math,” Kim said. “We believe the intersection of these fields forms the cornerstone of creativity, which will drive innovation and economic growth for the Philadelphia region and beyond. To this end, we aim to infuse such collaborative and multi-disciplinary values in all of our efforts.”

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