October 16, 2010 at 5:36 pm

Boston Music Hack Day: Radio Interference Inspires an App

Most people would probably consider interference between two radio stations a bug, but Rich Jones sees it as a feature. At this year’s Boston Music Hack Day, he’s building an app that promises to let anyone experience the sweet — to him, anyway — sound of a car radio straddling two stations on the FM radio dial.

“In my town, when I drive around in my car, I like to put it on station 94.5 because I’m in a weird zone with two stations overlapping: a ’70s, Philly/Motown funk station on one, and bible reading on the other,” explained Jones. “They combine to create really funky-sounding sermons. I’ve never found an effects pedal or DSP plug-in that will make that overlapping effect in that kind of way, so that’s what I’m writing right now, to mash two MP3s into a new song based on their waveforms.”

Jones expects to be done with this solo project shortly, called EOP945 (I’ll try to seek him out for the link once it’s ready). But nearly all of the other hackers here have teamed up with each other, leading this reporter to conclude that the myth of the “lone wolf” hacker is exactly that.

Once this radio-inspired mash-up app is done, Jones plans to build another project with fellow developer Chris Rhoden, which will help people find compatible bandmates based on factors, including their musical chops. Neither developer would spill the beans about how it will work exactly, for fear of having their thunder stolen; given that they’re surrounded by hundreds of other hackers, each capable of busting out functional music technologies in a matter of hours, their position is understandable.

It’s a bit shocking how much progress has been made with all of these hacks and apps, and we’re not even through Day One. Following a break for pizza tonight and a Javelin performance at The Echo Nest headquarters later on (disclosure: Javelin are my brother and cousin), many Hack Day attendees will continue to work throughout the night and into Sunday before presenting their creations in the evening. Stay tuned for more on that front.

So, how are they doing it? Another hacker stereotype appears to be true: There’s no decaffeinated soda in the refrigerators, and the coffee is flowing something fierce.

Incidentally, Jones named his app EOP945 after the non-channel that inspired it (94.5 FM) and the Public Enemy Song “Terminator X At The Edge Of Panic,” in which the legendary DJ toggles back and forth between two records:

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