Just three more day before the deadline for the “write a tune for Tim Peake with Sonic Pi” challenge. Using “sonic Pi” does not depend on setting up a Raspberry Pi because the software may be downloaded onto any laptop allowing users to progress at their own pace. Headphone are essential – if only to protect everyone near by. As a non-musician it seems a great way to allow anyone who does not play an instrument to “make music” but I have wondered how musicians feel about it. Is a Sonic Pi tune really music? I suppose an analogy might be made by asking whether a computer generated picture is truly “art”.
Going back to Tim Peake.
>This competition offers a unique chance for young people to learn core computing skills that will be extremely useful in their future. It’s going to be a lot of fun!” said Tim Peake.
The winners will have their code uploaded to the ISS and used by Tim on the Astro Pi computers (on a best-effort basis subject to operational constraints).
David Honess, from the Raspberry Pi Foundation, spoke with Tim just before launch and learned that it is difficult to update the astronaut’s MP3 player while in space. “So there’s a practical, utilitarian purpose for having the students code this MP3 player for him. It’ll solve a real problem on the space station,” said David.
The first challenge is for students to write Python code to turn the Astro Pi into an MP3 music player, something that it was never designed for. The students will need to program the buttons, joystick and LED display to provide an iPod-like interface, so that Tim can plug in headphones and listen to music.
The second challenge requires students to compose their own music using a tool called Sonic Pi. This allows music to be created using lines of code, and is a really fun and engaging way to learn to program. Tim will then use the MP3 player code from the first challenge to listen to the second challenge’s music in space.>
I wonder how they will choose the winners? Elegance of code or the quality of tune? Or both