Research & Development news – Spring 2015

Welcome to the second of our blog posts exploring the work of our Research and Development team. The R&D work we do is all about supporting the creation of new accessible music technology.

Vegetables turned into musical instruments using wiring and technologyThe range of instruments and options available to disabled musicians is narrow. We bridge the gap between musicians and technology people to start putting accessibility at the heart of new music tech developments.


One of the ways we do this is through our regular hackmeets. This year we have begun to host regular meetings for a small community of coders and technologists.

The idea of a hackmeet is to bring skilled people together with a common goal (e.g. to come up with new accessible music technologies) and to try and create quick, workable solutions to problems.

Our regular group has now met 3 times and it is progressing really well. There are around 10 members, which is a good size to facilitate and for participation. It is fairly informal in style. Our R&D National Manager Gawain thought initially that there would need to be a more structured agenda, but the informal style suits the group and is working well.

At the hackmeet members come together to update each other on their projects, to share ideas and to get input from the community on what they are working on.

So, for example, someone could come with a tech issue they haven’t been able to work out and the rest of the group would get their heads together to suggest new ideas and things to try.


Gawain has been working on the two prototyping awards we mentioned in our last R&D Update blog post. These awards have been given to members of our R&D community who are working on new projects and they take the form of some funding and also time and support to take their idea from initial concept through to physical prototype.

John Kelly is leading on one of the projects – to create a new form of ‘guitar’ which is more physically accessible, looks good and sounds great.

Musicians recording in a studio
John Kelly (second from left) in the studio working on a collaborative Drake Music commission

He has conceived what he needs and has a really clear idea of how it will operate, but needs assistance in making that idea a reality. Gawain will identify and lead a team to work on it, which will probably include some of the members of the Hackmeet.

The process will likely involve meeting up as a group and working individually, with the aim of getting together a rough prototype as quickly as possible. This will then be shared with our partners at Music Hackspace and online to get their input and ideas for improvements and further development.

This is still a new type of initiative for Drake Music, so we will aim to learn and develop our approach throughout the project, and share our experiences along the way.

Final thoughts

Alongside these exciting tech development projects Gawain has also been working hard behind the scenes on finalising evaluations of various pieces of work and also to confirm details of our next open Hack Day. We are hoping to be able to announce all the info soon, so watch this space!

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