In a world that is dominated by computers, software, apps and social media, coding is king. It is a skill that will only become more desirable, especially to employers around the world, whose businesses will continue to rely more and more on software and programming. And one man has created something that will inspire the coders of the future tenfold, and that man is Dr. Sam Aaron.
A relative unknown to those not submerged in the world of coding, Dr Sam Aaron has invented a means of teaching young people about coding through the most popular medium known to man, a medium that unites people and one which I haven’t met anyone yet in life that doesn’t enjoy, and that thing is music.
Sonic Pi is a piece of software that allows users to create live music using code, more specifically Ruby, for those of you aware of coding languages. Aaron is at the forefront of this new technology and as he personally invented the concept, we thought him the best person to deliver our Sonic Pi workshops that took place on Tuesday 5th April. Aaron spent the first eleven years of his life in Stoke-on-Trent, (yes, Stoke-on-Trent! Take that you Jason Mountford Stoke-on-Trent facebook post trollers) and now calls Cambridge home. Aaron has created Sonic Pi as an educational tool to encourage young people to become more involved in coding, it is also a funded project that is free to download online. Driving an underlying belief that children need to know why they are performing certain tasks within education and through using Sonic Pi, children get an immediate response to their code, this response being live music.
Here at Wavemaker, we were thrilled when Dr. Sam agreed to come into HQ at the Mitchell Arts Centre in Hanley and deliver not one but two amazing workshops. For coding and music enthusiasts, like ourselves, we had a celebrity in the world of coding coming to visit!
The first workshop that Sam delivered was to children and young people. It was a sell out session and gave the group an introduction to Sonic Pi and time to play in the software to create their very own composition, complete with with synths, effects and samples. The workshop highlighted some great coding and musical talent among the young people in the city. I wouldn’t be surprised, in time, if another Potter became an expert Sonic Pi DJ with world-wide fame, given the number of fantastic musical pieces that were created in that workshop.
In essence, Dr. Sam is also a DJ and travels the world performing using Sonic Pi. Wavemaker were also introduced to Alga -Raves, dance nights across the country, that specifically play live coded music….it’s safe to say Wavemaker will be making an appearance at one of these in the near future!
The second workshop was aimed at adults, teachers and coding enthusiasts who wanted to know more about Sonic Pi at a more advanced level. The group included music technology lecturers from the local universities and colleges as well as those from a coding background. In this session Aaron demonstrated the lengths to which Sonic Pi can be used, how advanced the software is and just how amazing it is to listen to live coded music. With a small performance at the end of the session, Aaron really highlighted how mind-blowing this kind of music can be and also enjoyable.
In a lot of ways it is not only a skill but a true art form, a combination of something ancient in history, universal in enjoyment, combined with new technology that transcends the now common place turntable, apple mac DJ booth. To create live music in this way is truly a meeting of traditional and modern musical minds, and one which shows no sign of stopping in its popularity and growth. Sonic Pi is available to download for free for Microsoft and Mac, there is also learning resources available online for anyone who wants to give it a go. After such a fantastic experience, we are hoping to get Dr. Sam Aaron back to his homeland once more for a proper performance, a showcase for our already music loving and musically talented city of what the future holds. Watch this space.