'For those about to hack ..we salute you'

One of the core elements that makes MusicTechFest so special is the hack camp - and the places for this year were snapped up like hotcakes as soon as we announced details. 

It was so exciting to have some of the most brilliant and creative hackers attend to take part in this year’s challenges, which were set by Spotify, SoundCloud, RCA Records, FXpansion, Levels Entertainment and CISCO for these exceptionally talented people to rise to. 

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As always, we welcomed experimentation and randomness and we weren’t left disappointed.

The Spotify challenge was to create a “3D playlist” inside Spotify and win a year’s Spotify premium subscription. Alex Wakeman stepped up and embraced this challenge, creating a great visualisation hack which introduces listeners to new music via a rotating galaxy of related spheres. (Try the 3D playlist )

For SoundCloud’s “best noise in da house” challenge, Simon Carella and Davide Totaro from StereoMood took away a SoundCloud Pro account for their winning endeavour created from comments listeners had posted on tracks. You can view it here

RCA Records put forward the ‘Make Music With Everything Everything’ challenge. Audio stems from the band Everything Everything were provided to our hackers to mix, chop, slice or basically create new music as they saw fit. The challenge also provided a great opportunity to work with RCA to develop the idea further. Jake Dubber responded with this terrific remix that caught the judges’ ears. Have a listen: 

Cyril Laurier, Ezra and Ariel Elkin collaborated on ‘BionicLooper’, which added audio effects to loops with some added innovation, as Ezra nonchalantly demonstrated to great effect:

For the Yuri Suzuki “best sound in space”, Nadine Kroher and Raquel Baez Fernandez’s ‘Air’ created an ingenious and really fun air guitar using two Android phones. Nadine demoed the hack with such great aplomb, Pete Townsend would have been proud.

Speaking of fun, Juanjo Bosch and Alvaro Sarasua created ‘Facegoat’ to demonstrate the capabilities of facial recognition technology. This hack really made us smile. Check it out:

Jakab Pilaszanovich and Dara Dabiri created satisFact - an amazing hack that uses face recognition technology to study the implicit feedback provided by a user who is viewing a video. We think this has real potential commercial appeal.

Cisco posed a “best new musical instrument” challenge, asking the hackers to let their creativity flow and create a new instrument – and offering an iPad mini and Cisco router as incentive. Last year, Adam Williams created a custom bass synth Bukkako 5000 and he returned to astound us again with “Quirkuitar”, a software synthesizer with a wireless iPad based guitar-style controller, which snatched the grand prize for best new instrument.

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An inspiring young guy, you will definitely be hearing more about him in the future. You can find out more about Adam through his website 

As an added bonus, the hack camp also managed to attract one of our presenters Andrew Dubber. The “reinvent music radio” challenge sufficiently aroused Andrew’s curiosity as he had been researching extensively in that area. The challenge by Levels Entertainment: can you develop an alternative to radio that allows independent labels to promote their music to the public? So Dubber decided to join into the spirit of good old tinkering, teaming up with an incredible designer Jedidiah to hatch the concept of Radiatr a mobile platform that effectively solves the problems raised in the hack challenge. 

Grapevine" by Jack Armitage, Coby Sey and Kyle Molleson, used audiovisual looping with Vine. Kainan Chen and Yunong Pang created an instrument by allowing abstract shapes to be drawn and played to various effects on an iPad canvas.

Thanks to all our sponsors, to Robert Kaye of MusicBrainz for leading the camp and Jonathan Marmor from the Monthly Music Hackathon NYC for judging – and a special word of gratitude to all the music hackers who participated in the hack camps. We hope to see you back again next year.

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You can browse all winning hacker challenges through our MusicTechFest video channel on Youtube.