Coding Music with Sonic Pi - A 6-8 Part Scheme

Sonic Pi

A lot of children may never have known that you can code anything other than Scratch, in a paid for platform or the ‘stuff’ websites and apps are made of. So to say we are going to code music is quite a unique concept and experience.

To introduce this I like to use Xavier Riley’s presentation at the Bath Ruby conference. I like to use the end portion because he has experience of using Sonic Pi in schools with children and draws directly from their initial experiences.

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Sonic Pi - Making, Mixing and Live Coding Music

Two performances did seem to transcend the present, with artists sharing music that felt like open-source software to paths unknown. The first, Sam Aaron, played an early techno set to a small crowd, performing by coding live. His computer display, splayed naked on a giant screen, showcasedSonic Pi, the free software he invented. Before he let loose by revising lines of brackets, colons and commas, he typed:

#This is Sonic Pi…..
#I use it to teach people how to code
#everything i do tonight, i can teach a 10 year old child…..

His set – which sounded like Electric Café-era Kraftwerk, a little bit of Aphex Twin skitter and some Eighties electro – was constructed through typing and deleting lines of code. The shadowy DJ sets, knob-tweaking noise and fogbank ambient of many Moogfest performers was completely demystified and turned into simple numbers and letters that you could see in action. Dubbed "the live coding synth for everyone," it truly seemed less like a performance and more like an invitation to code your own adventure.

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