Accessible Music Hackathon – 6th Feb 2016

Room with technologists working on accessible music projects

Accessible Music Hackathon – 6th Feb 2016, 9.30am – 7.30pm

Presented by Drake Music at the Centre for Digital Music at QMUL

Featuring Bela, a new embedded platform for low-latency interactive audio

Register here to take part

The goal of the hackathon will be to create new musical instruments accessible to disabled musicians.

Hacks could produce complete working instruments, or a demonstration of a concept or sensor which could be used in a variety of instruments.

At the beginning of the day, we will issue 2 or 3 design challenges (for example, an instrument capable of playing a particular tune or technique). There will be prizes for the best hacks addressing these challenges, and there will also be prizes for best overall instrument.

Participants are free to bring their own projects in progress, or to start a new design at the hackathon.

Participants can bring along their existing tools, or use the Bela platform developed by the C4DM Augmented Instruments Laboratory, which we are featuring at this hackathon.

Bela is an ultra-low-latency platform for interactive audio and sensors. It provides stereo audio input and output, 8 analog inputs and outputs and 16 digital I/Os, all sampled together at audio rate.

Bela runs on the BeagleBone Black, with a 1GHz ARM processor. It runs a custom Linux environment which provides hard real-time performance for the audio code, allowing latency of under 1ms. Bela can be programmed in C++ using an Arduino-like API, or Pd patches can be compiled to run on the board using Heavy Audio Tools by Enzien Audio.

We will provide Bela kits and a variety of sensors and electronic components. Given sufficient notice and suitable design files, we may also be able to laser cut small parts during the hackathon.


Saturday 6 February, 9.30am-7.30pm

Where: Engineering Building at Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Road, E1 4NS

Directions: From Stepney Green, walk east on Mile End Road until you past Bancroft Road. Look for the glass entrance to the Engineering Building on the north side of Mile End Road.

Cost: Free and lunch will be provided.

Equipment: Bela kits will be provided, along with sensors and some other electrical components. If you have other requirements please contact us beforehand to discuss.



10am: Presentation of the design challenges.

10.30 – 6.15pm: Hackathon!

A short introduction to Bela will be offered in the morning (a longer tutorial may be available earlier in the week – time TBC).

6.30 – 7.30pm: Presentations and judging

After this we will head to a nearby pub for drinks or dinner.


Register here to take part


Email Gawain Hewitt or Andrew McPherson:

  • gawain hewitt at drake music dot org
  • a dot mcpherson at qmul dot ac dot uk

Photo (c) 2015 Emile Holba

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