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Let's create the future of emotion together!Let's create the future of emotion together!YURU Musical Instrument Hackathon 2021YURU Musical Instrument Hackathon 2021Event Report

Making YURUmusical instruments that anyone can play instantly with others
A new world of music, supported by Sony’s creativity

Together with the World YURU Music Association, which advocates a diversity-centered philosophy of “giving everyone the pleasure of playing musical instruments,” Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) Inc. (SMEJ) is leading an ongoing project to gather ideas for a new world of music and new instruments, supported by various Sony groups. Under this project, Sony groups held the YURU Musical Instrument Hackathon 2021 for two days on November 20 (Sat.) and 21 (Sun.) at the SENZOKU GAKUEN College of Music. Engineers, designers, creators, and artists who had a passion for music participated from Japan and joined staff from Sony Group companies to brainstorm and develop YURU musical instruments. The event itself reflected Sony’s Purpose to “Fill the world with emotion, through the power of creativity and technology.” Here is a report of the hackathon, which opened up new possibilities for music.

* “YURU” generally means fun, free, generous, flexible, easy to approach etc. in Japanese.

YURU Musical Instrument Hackathon 2021 Movie

Event overview

Event name
: YURU Musical Instrument Hackathon 2021
Venue
: SENZOKU GAKUEN College of Music (Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture)
Organized by
: MX Team, EdgeTech Project Department, Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) Inc.
Sponsored by
: Sony Group Corporation
In cooperation with
: MESH™ Project, Sony Marketing Inc.; KOOV® Project, Sony Global Education, Inc.; toio™ Project, Sony Interactive Entertainment Inc.; SSUP Project, Sony Semiconductor Solutions Corporation

※ This event was held in accordance with venue guidelines for COVID-19 prevention.

Report.01

Warming up with word
play connected to
musical instruments

First, Nozomu Kaji of SMEJ gave greetings as a representative from the World YURU Music Association and hackathon host. “I hope that today, everyone can put their ideas and power together to create a future where everyone can enjoy music!” Nozomu said enthusiastically. Participants were shown a pre-recorded video of a children’s drawing workshop with the theme “I wish there was this kind of instrument”. The children’s lovely musical instrument drawings were hung on the venue walls for participants to see and receive inspiration.

Next, representatives from different Sony groups presented various Sony products and their features that participants could use to make YURU musical instruments: MESH, IoT blocks that makes your ideas come to life; KOOV, a robot programming kit; toio, a robot toy that draws out creative ideas; and the development kit for SPRESENSE™, a board computer designed for high-resolution recording and playback. A support desk was set up in the venue for each product to answer questions from participants.
After the explanation of each Sony product, participants began to write out their own ideas using a shared spreadsheet. First, participants brainstormed everyday items that could possibly be used to make noise and wrote them down. Then, they rewrote the names of those items into unique instrument names, such as changing “slap” to “slapbourine” and “scissors” to “chop chop castanets.” Finally, they wrote down their specific ideas (using these instrument names as guides), their experience with instruments, and items they’d brought with them. They then presented their ideas from this three-step brainstorming session, along with their self-introduction. After hearing each person’s ideas, the participants began to form teams.

First, Nozomu Kaji of SMEJ gave greetings as a representative from the World YURU Music Association and hackathon host. “I hope that today, everyone can put their ideas and power together to create a future where everyone can enjoy music!” Nozomu said enthusiastically. Participants were shown a pre-recorded video of a children’s drawing workshop with the theme “I wish there was this kind of instrument” The children’s lovely musical instrument drawings were hung on the venue walls for participants to see and receive inspiration.
Next, representatives from different Sony groups presented various Sony products and their features that participants could use to make YURU musical instruments: MESH, IoT blocks that makes your ideas come to life; KOOV, a robot programming kit; toio, a robot toy that draws out creative ideas; and the development kit for SPRESENSE™, a board computer designed for high-resolution recording and playback. A support desk was set up in the venue for each product to answer questions from participants.
After the explanation of each Sony product, participants began to write out their own ideas using a shared spreadsheet. First, participants brainstormed everyday items that could possibly be used to make noise and wrote them down. Then, they rewrote the names of those items into unique instrument names, such as changing “slap” to “slapbourine” and “scissors” to “chop chop castanets.” Finally, they wrote down their specific ideas (using these instrument names as guides), their experience with instruments, and items they’d brought with them. They then presented their ideas from this three-step brainstorming session, along with their self-introduction. After hearing each person’s ideas, the participants began to form teams.

Report.02

Building a team
by complementing
each other’s differences
See creativity unleashed!

creativity

Usually, participants form teams to compete in hackathons, but in this event, many participated by themselves. People approached each other searching for ideas and skills that they needed, saying things like, “I have an idea, but I don’t have the technology to make musical instruments,” or “We’re an engineering group, so we need a designer.” Even those that were nervous at first relaxed the more they talked. In the end, participants formed 15 teams. After the teams discussed and decided what to create, the hackathon officially got started. The participants exchanged their ideas of how to combine the items they brought in with Sony’s products. Discussions between teams also became lively, with members from one team going to see another’s progress, chatting with them, etc. Some teams also consulted with the resident Sony support staff when they had questions. Perhaps because the hackathon was about music, the venue atmosphere was so cheerful, lively, and full of excitement.

Usually, participants form teams come to compete in hackathons, but in this event, many participated by themselves. People approached each other searching for ideas and skills that they needed, saying things like, “I have an idea, but I don’t have the technology to make musical instruments,” or “We’re an engineering group, so we need a designer.” Even those that were nervous at first relaxed the more they talked. In the end, participants formed 15 teams. After the teams discussed and decided what to create, the hackathon officially got started. The participants exchanged their ideas of how to combine the items they brought in with Sony’s products. Discussions between teams also became lively, with members from one team going to see another’s progress, chatting with them, etc. Some teams also consulted with the resident Sony support staff when they had questions. Perhaps because the hackathon was about music, the venue atmosphere was so cheerful, lively, full of excitement.

bokuiijima.com

①bokuiijima.com

Project name(s): I Wanna DJ Freely!!

“We’d like to DJ while moving in a fun way, using a variety of devices. Get excited for the making of a YURU musical instrument that’s a new kind of DJ!”

Memento Mori

②Memento Mori

Project name(s):Butt-Tone

“We’re making a Butt-Tone, which lets you play different tones and rhythms by sitting on a balance ball. What you need is balance, not musical talent!”

PikoPiko Factory

③PikoPiko Factory

Project name(s):Dance Penta-kun (a dancing instrument) and YURU Sheet Music that anyone can read

“We’re creating an instrument you can play just by dancing and sheet music that anyone can read and write. We aim to make something any age can enjoy without knowledge of music.”

YURU Sports Musical Instrument

④YURU Sports Musical
Instrument

Project name(s):YURU Sports Musical Instrument

“We’re an impromptu team of five individual participants. We want to create an instrument you can play while freely moving with an exercise band.”

ROCK KIDS 802

⑤ROCK KIDS 802

Project name(s):Easy for Everyone! A YURU Musical Instrument You Can Use at a Concert

“We’re college student supporters of the FM802 radio station in Osaka. These days, we can’t talk or shout when we go to concerts, so we’re creating an instrument that makes concerts more fun.”

Tori-san+Miho

⑥Tori-san+Miho

Project name(s):Hand-Held Instrument and Shiny Hat

“We want to create small instruments that even small children can enjoy. Check out the model that the designer, Miho-san, created.”

Clappy Gakudan

⑦Clappy Gakudan

Project name(s):A Live Instrument Using toio and KOOV

“We’ll create a sort of automatic handbell mechanism where instead of a person, a toy chooses and plays each handbell.”

MA Team

⑧MA Team

Project name(s):Colorful Piano

“Our team focused on the overflowing color in the world. We thought it’d be fun to use a color sensor to create an instrument.”

TEAM Panna Cotta

⑨TEAM Panna Cotta

Project name(s):shake de MUSIC

“We want to be able to play music by shaking Android phones. Each phone’s shake has different characteristics, so we’ll try to detect the model and adjust the sound to it.”

Oto-Toy

⑩Oto-Toy

Project name(s):Free Musical Instrument

“We want people to be able to play music just by having fun, and we also want people who aren’t interested in music to be able to compose it naturally. We want to make those possible.”

PB

⑪PB

Project name(s):Drum Anywhere

“We want to create something that can make a drum anywhere, like a desk or a wall. It’s our first time making instruments in a hackathon, so we’re really excited.”

Tuna

⑫Tuna

Project name(s):Rough Theremin and Rough Handbell

“We want to create an instrument for this era where we avoid touch, so we’ll use ultrasonic sensors to create a Rough Theremin.”

Oto-modachi

⑬Oto-modachi

Project name(s):Communication-Sound

“We all play instruments, so they’re a form of communication for us. We want to make something where we can play and make music with multiple people.”

MusicHanger

⑭MusicHanger

Project name(s):Musical Table Tennis Ball and Musical Hanger

“We’re going to present a unique instrument that we made using a hanger. We wanted to make something that anyone from children to adults can play with no explanation!”

Fujikawa

⑮Fujikawa

Project name(s):UNPANY

“We want to play music together just through transport, the movement involved in everyday group work. Hopefully, it’ll make sounds even by throwing and other actions.”

Introducing Sony’s products
with the support staff!

MESH
Masaki Sugimoto (Sony Marketing Inc.)

MESH support staff

Masaki Sugimoto
(Sony Marketing Inc.)

These IoT blocks allow users to intuitively create a variety of mechanisms by connecting seven sensor blocks to a dedicated app. The sounds within the app and those recorded or loaded onto it can be used to make a variety of instruments, even using simple mechanisms like sound being emitted when it gets dark, or a light turning on when a block is shaken. MESH has been used to make YURU musical instruments before, but today, we hope to see instruments created that use MESH in new ways.

KOOV
Mahito Funaki (Sony Global Education Inc.)

KOOV support staff

Mahito Funaki
(Sony Global Education, Inc.)

This robot programming kit fosters children’s creativity using a combination of seven colors of blocks and electronic parts. They can further their understanding of manufacturing and programming from both the hardware and software point of view. Many people tend to think making sounds means using a sound-making instrument, i.e., a buzzer, etc. But this time, I was glad to find teams that focused on the hardware side to generate sound.

toio
Kazuhiro Yabe (Sony Interactive Entertainment Inc.)

toio support staff

Kazuhiro Yabe
(Sony Interactive Entertainment Inc.)

This robot toy was made with the concept of “create, play, and inspire.” The robot includes various sensors such as an accelerometer to capture the robot’s location information, so one can change sounds by moving the robot. You can incorporate toio into your imaginative ideas during this event, so I hope you can also enjoy it freely when playing the instruments.

SPRESENSE
Tomonobu Hayakawa (Sony Semiconductor Solutions Corporation)

SPRESENSE support staff

Tomonobu Hayakawa
(Sony Semiconductor Solutions Corporation)

This board computer for IoT is equipped with a GPS receiver and high-resolution audio codec. Because it can process diverse sounds, SPRESENSE can be used in instruments in ways such as recognizing the key of the sound a person makes and producing files with completely different sounds in that same tone. I think it’s great that at the hackathon, we can hear opinions that we can reference in future development and hear from users directly.

Report.03

Each team presents their results!Showing off free and fun music

Each team was given three minutes to present and to play the instruments they developed over the two-day event. Each team played their YURU musical instruments heartily and cheerfully in unique performances. The whole room was fired up as those who watched the performances clapped and cheered. After all 15 teams finished presenting, they had an exchange time where they could see and play other teams’ instruments. Everyone was filled with interest in each other’s instruments, and cheerful voices and unique instrument sounds resounded throughout the venue as participants congratulated each other for their efforts over the past two days. The event had everyone smiling!

Each team was given three minutes to present and to play the instruments they developed over the two-day event. Each team played their YURU musical instruments heartily and cheerfully in unique performances. The whole room was fired up as those who watched the performances clapped and cheered. After all 15 teams finished presenting, they had an exchange time where they could see and play other teams’ instruments. Everyone was filled with interest in each other’s instruments, and cheerful voices and unique instrument sounds resounded throughout the venue as participants congratulated each other for their efforts over the past two days. The event had everyone smiling!

The Shiori Tomita Award,Fujikawa
Shiori Tomita
Wataru LINDA Igarashi

Announcing the
winners of each award!
The best YURU musical instrument
that anyone can
play right away is…?

Judging for each award was done by various SMEJ and Sony group employees, as well as members of the music group Yuru Music Almost All Stars, a group comprised of people brimming with individuality who aim to show the world the fun of music. Shiori Tomita, the group’s vocalist and representative with over 150,000 followers on Instagram and TikTok combined; and Wataru LINDA Igarashi, who does many artistic activities and participates in LGBTQ initiatives, both appeared as judges and asked questions during the participants’ presentations. The instruments were judged based on the required criteria: whether anyone could play them right away, and anyone can play together, and the secondary criteria: whether someone can improve with practice or control the tones. They were also judged based on other unique criteria.

The Grand Winner

Team name

YURU Sports Musical Instrument

Project name(s)

YURU Sports Musical Instrument

Instrument description

Making music with exercise bands and push-ups!

The Grand Winner,YURU Sports Musical Instrument

This apparatus uses a “training chord tube” that converts tilt and force sensors into MIDI signals and triggers unique and cute movements. It also has an “abs castanet” that senses using KOOV’s IR photo reflector and moves two servomotors to collide together. Lastly, it has a “drum tube” that uses MESH’s Button and Move blocks to sense body movements and make sounds.

Winners’ comments

These members gathered for the first time because of this event, but it was great that everyone’s individual preferences fit together so well to make a YURU musical instrument. We were actually very nervous because our equipment malfunctioned during the presentation, but we’re so happy to have received the grand prize.

Special Recognitions
(Two teams)

Team name

bokuiijima.com

Project name(s)

I Wanna DJ Freely!!

Instrument description

Bringing together a variety of
equipment so anyone can DJ

Special Recognitions,bokuiijima.com

Made using toio, KOOV, and MESH. The device converts movement into data values which are used to tweak the music effects in real time, just like a real DJ does with their gear.

Winners’ comments

I’m so happy we succeeded! I didn’t think we all could have so much fun DJing together in the presentation!

Team name

Memento Mori

Project name(s)

Butt-Tone

Instrument description

Playing sounds while exercising on a balance ball

Special Recognitions,Memento Mori

The top side of the balance board senses the balance ball’s center of gravity. By laying out tones and instruments in each zone and outputting MIDI signals, the scale can be played by tilting the butt. You can change the sound freely by connecting to GarageBand.

Winners’ comments

When we created the team, we decided to use a balance ball as the instrument. We feel like we made an instrument everyone could enjoy.

The Shiori Tomita Award (Two teams)

Team name

TEAM Panna Cotta

Project name(s)

shake de MUSIC

Instrument description

Shake your smartphone to play music together with everyone!

The Shiori Tomita Award,TEAM Panna Cotta

A system that lets you play music by simply shaking Android phones. Each phone was detected when it was shaken and the tone adjusted and changed, so multiple people could play together.

Winners’ comments

We didn’t think we would win, so we’re really happy. We’re all very grateful.

Team name

Fujikawa

Project name(s)

UNPANY

Instrument description

A box that produces sound by carrying it, tossing it, and moving it

The Shiori Tomita Award,Fujikawa

toio detects numbers on a simple sheet in a box and is set to play different sounds based on each sheet number. By laying out a simple sheet inside the box and inserting the toio Core Cube, it moves along with the box and makes sounds based on vibrations when the box is transported.

Winners’ comments

I would’ve never been able to win this award by myself. I’m grateful to everyone who helped.

The LINDA Award

Team name

ROCK KIDS 802

Project name(s)

Easy for Everyone! A YURU Musical
Instrument You Can Use at a Concert

Instrument description

Use sound and light to make the concert scene more exciting!

The LINDA Award,ROCK KIDS 802

All made using MESH: this instrument consists of a microphone that plays set phrases and songs, a pen light that says “Hey!” when shaken, a towel that makes cheering noises when waved, an umbrella with a light at the tip to replace pen lights, and a cube that can play chords just by rolling it around, etc.

Winners’ comments

We participated without knowing anything about programming, so we’re really happy to receive an award. We will continue working with our radio station to make going to concerts more fun.

Judges’ Special Award

Team name

Oto-Toy

Project name(s)

Free Musical Instrument

Instrument description

Instruments comprised of a ball and hat with toio attached that naturally play music when you play with them

Judges’ Special Award,Oto-Toy

1. A ball that uses the built-in motion sensor in toio to make sound when you play catch with or dribble it. 2. A hat that toio rotates to show the tempo, like a metronome. 3. Analog sheet music comprised of a series of tiles programmed with sounds lined up in a row; toio moves across them to play a melody.

Winners’ comments

We’re so happy that our surreal performance was received well. There’s no denying that toio was the reason we were able to play this music, but it was such a fun two days!

After the results were announced, all participants came together and played the YURU musical instruments they had just created in a big music session. The music brought everyone together, and that marked the end of the hackathon. This hackathon was able to broaden the possibilities of musical instruments by allowing everyone to express their own point of view on YURU musical instruments. Adding Sony’s creativity and technology to that made for an exciting and enjoyable two-day event of music-making.

Talking with the participants!YURU Musical Instrument
Hackathon 2021

This was my first time participating, but I was really impressed that everyone, not just myself, was having a lot of fun creating things. I currently make instruments for person who is deaf or hard of hearing at my university’s laboratory. But seeing what everyone made with their imaginative ideas here, some things made me think, “Wow, that can be an instrument too?!”, so I felt that this was really stimulating. I want to use this experience in future research.

bokuiijima
Ryo Iijima

bokuiijima Ryo Iijima

I’m a university student participating in a hackathon for the first time. I felt out of place at first because there were many engineers, but gradually we started to think it would be great if we could make something together. It was quite difficult at first but working with MESH let us make things easily. I think we were able to create something that really represents those who love concerts.

ROCK KIDS 802
Yuri Kisaka

ROCK KIDS 802 Yuri Kisaka

Modeling is my area of expertise, so I searched for an engineer at the venue and teamed up with Tori-san. Tori-san polished up the sculpture I brought, and it was truly fun to create this together. I felt like this YURU Musical Instrument Hackathon accepted many types, so I felt safe participating.

Tori-san+Miho
Mihoko Suzuki

Tori-san+Miho Mihoko Suzuki

It was so exciting to come to an offline hackathon for the first time in a while. It’s interesting to tweak hardware to create things in a music-themed hackathon. Mechanical and electrical ones tend to be dull, but music leads to art, so both making these instruments and looking at others’ work was fun.

Clappy Gakudan
Shin Takeuchi

Clappy Gakudan Shin Takeuchi
Tomoki Banno

Talking with the facilitator,
Tomoki Banno!
Making instruments
in hackathons
We spoke with Tomoki Banno—today’s facilitator—who manages a number of events every year, including hackathons and ideathons.

We spoke with Tomoki Banno—today’s facilitator—who manages a number of events every year, including hackathons and ideathons.

― Are there any merits or things to be gained from participating in hackathons?

You can do creative things that are completely different regular work and that are hard to do without a hobby like DIY. But also, at hackathons, people can learn new techniques and try new presentation methods. This often translates into feedback in one’s own work and life, so I think that’s the greatest benefit: being able to learn and discover while having fun.

― What is your opinion on this hackathon, where the theme is YURU musical instruments?

I think there was more interest in music and instruments compared to other hackathons. Some projects within other hackathons have had sound themes, but this time everyone was focused on sound, expression, and instruments. Many teams performed in the presentation section, and it’s rare that everyone is the presenter in a hackathon. I was so interested in seeing what the teams were doing as they practiced and tested their instruments, and I really enjoyed myself during these two days as well.

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