Sonic Pi is an open source program that allows you to create new sounds in a live coding environment. It is a new musical instrument that is played through the writing of code rather than the stroking of keys or strumming of strings. Developed by Sam Aaron, Sonic Pi teaches young people how to code by composing and performing music. Different music notes are played based on the code that is being written and by compiling several lines of code together, composing a song.
As an open source environment, Sonic Pi software, toolkits, resources as well as the work of others are available free to all online. Users can define their own sounds, rhythms and tone to create their own music. This can be done as static compositions as well as live performances, and is the first programing system that allows a live loop. This means the user to change the code while it is playing the music and therefore create a continually growing tune. Sonic Pi comes pre-installed with sound loops that can be manipulated by changing the speed, bass levels and repetitions to create your own unique songs.
Sam performs using Sonic Pi live with his band, and in his TEDx Talk explains how programing can be used to perform. He highlights that traditional school music lessons in which students are taught to play classical music are now out-dated and as such, are pushing young people away from learning music. He built Sonic Pi to allow young people to create the kind of music they enjoy.
Similar to a musical instrument there is a strong aspirational pathway; if you dedicate time and effort working on Sonic Pi there are desirable rewards. Sam Aaron was recently featured in Rolling Stones magazine for his Sonic Pi music and it is hoped that soon Sonic Pi code will be featured by celebrity musicians.
Sonic Pi does not have to be confined to the teaching of music and digital skills - there is also the opportunity to integrate it across the curriculum. Understanding how sounds differ when the speed changes can be explained by mathematics. Changes to tone can be used to teach the biology of the human ear.
Sonic Pi creator Sam Aaron said ‘the only skills you need to succeed in coding are perseverance , an open mind and the desire for continual learning.’
Our Sonic Pi workshops will take place in New York, London, Hong Kong and Frankfurt on 27th April, and will conclude with concerts showing off our new songs. Keep an eye on our Facebook page for clips of the concerts across the globe.
Sonic Pi can be used on MacOs, Windows, Linux as well as working in collaboration with Raspberry Pi.
Updated 25 April, 2017