Sonic Pi

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Software programmer and musician Sam Aaron has made it his mission to “play the computer”, and to help others do the same. From his base in the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory, Sam has developed Sonic Pi, a free live coding sequencer and synthesizer based on simplified Ruby programming language that produces music from text commands.

It is designed initially for the low-cost programmable computing platform Raspberry Pi. The Sonic Pi is now powerful enough, fully fledged multi platform music program and there are versions for OSX, Windows and Linux.

Sam’s work was initially funded by the Broadcom Foundation, which supported the project for the first three months. After that, the Raspberry Pi Foundation stepped in, providing support by way of donation to the Computer Laboratory.

Sonic Pi is a social project, rather than a commercial one. It encourages everyone to learn to code, while having fun with music. Sam has collaborated with educators to produce teaching materials for computing in primary schools. He has also worked with artists to experiment with the potential of the software. The latest phase in the project, “Sonic Pi Live and Coding”, is aimed at making Sonic Pi into a fully-fledged musical instrument, for live performance.

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