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Making Music with Ruby: Patterns, Context, Fun

A talk by Noah Thorp at RubyConf 2009

About the Talk

November 20, 2009 12:15 PM

San Francisco

San Francisco

Ruby's rapid development, flexibility with data, and power for creating domain specific languages make it a compelling choice for music composition applications. But despite the creativity of the community and the possibility of the language, Ruby lacks the library support of other languages such as Python, Lisp, Java, C/C++, and the digital signal processing (DSP) domain specificity of languages like Chuck and SuperCollider.

This talk will explore strategies that use Ruby's strengths for computer music, avoid its weaknesses in hard real time music domains (speed and clock jitter), the libraries that are available, and patterns from successful music applications in various languages. Along the way we will explore examples of generative music algorithms (Mozart, Xenakis, Cope, Alphacore, Archaeopteryx, etc), controllers, laptop orchestras and ensembles (SLOrk/PLOrk, The Hub), live coding with irb, and more. At the end you will walk away inspired and informed to develop your own awesome music projects and libraries.

About the presenter: Noah Thorp is an enthusiastic community organizer, music composer, and software developer. His love of music, community and technology led him to found music think-tank and record label Listen Labs in 1998 and the Bay Area Computer Music Technology Group ( in 2007 and host over 30 computer music events at Berkeley CNMAT, Stanford CCRMA, Mills, Ex'pression, Dolby, Digidesign, Maker Faire, etc. His recent music project Rabbit's Rum was nominated for a 2009 Independent Music Award and recently composed the music for the Capacitor dance troupe's Urban Canopy show, performed at TED 2009 and the California Academy of Sciences. As part of Listen Labs, Noah performed late 90s laptop (and desktop) music performances and authored algorithms to convert EEG and geophysics density data to music. Noah is the VP of Engineering for Ashbury Music Hall ( ), an online music and music technology teaching platform startup where he leads an agile team and writes software primarily in Ruby.

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