Today is the start of the Musical Instrument Challenge. This newest part of the 2018 Hackaday Prize asks you to go far beyond what we’re used to seeing from modern musical instrumentation. Twenty entries will be awarded $1,000 each and go on to compete in the final round of the Hackaday Prize.
Imagine music without the electric guitar amp, violin, two turntables and a microphone, the electric drum pad, or in the absence of autotune. Maybe that last one made you groan, but autotune is a clever use of audio manipulation and when used to augment the music (rather than just to correct off-key voices) it shows its value as a new tool for creativity.
Musicians have always been hackers. The story of Brian May’s handmade guitar — the Red Special — is one of not being able to buy it, so he built it. Unlocking emotion in the listener has always meant finding new and different ways to use sound. This is a natural motivator to re-imagine and invent new ways of doing that. That first hand-built guitar got him in the door, but iterative improvements to the tremolo bar, the pickups, and even just the mechanical engineering of the neck made it a new instrument that you’ve heard in every Queen performance since.
So what’s next? What does a brand new instrument, interface, tool, or trick look like? That’s what we want to see from this Hackaday Prize challenge. From instrument makers to the people who write software for sampling, synthesizing, sequencing, and manipulating sound, we’re looking for things that let others make music. These creations are the tools of the trade that help more people unlock their musical creativity. Show off your work by sharing all the details of your design, and demonstrate the music you can make with it.
You have until October 8th to put your entry up on Hackaday.io. The top twenty entries will each get $1,000 and go on to the finals where cash prizes of $50,000, $20,000, $15,000, $10,000, and $5,000 await.