"You can't touch music, but music can touch you.” - Mordecai, Regular Show
Listening to music offers a powerful feeling of togetherness, and in today's #quarantinelife, that sense of connectedness is more important than ever. Though platforms like Spotify and Apple Music make it easy to enjoy our favorite tunes anywhere, obeying social distancing rules makes it really hard to create your own music with friends.
Of course, humanity perseveres. In Italy, hundreds of housebound people have taken to singing out their balconies in a heartwarming show of unity. Professionals the world over have embraced work-from-home via video collaboration tools like Zoom. Communities have come together to monetarily support restaurants and bookstores, offering economic security for local favorites.
But not everybody is making it out so great. Service workers fulfill essential roles but cannot usually take their jobs remote. Musicians in particular often depend on gig work at bars, malls, and public venues - all of which are among the first targets of a shelter-in-place restriction. Though musical talent is distributed across every socioeconomic slice, the rising stars of poorer neighborhoods are poised to suffer tremendously without the safety net of patronage and philanthropy.
Critically, music has a value beyond the price we pay to hear it. It is one of those few things that can create happiness out of nothing, and it lends definition to our culture and society. And yet, when disasters like the COVID-19 pandemic rattle our world, nearsighted panic overrides any appreciation for the finer joys of life; ironically, we are inclined to treasure music the least precisely when it can help us the most.
No technical solution has tackled this uniquely multifaceted issue… until now.
Introducing The Musick Space: the premier remote collaboration tool for musicians. The Musick Space offers a virtual environment in which musicians can practice alone, rehearse together, and even perform for the Internet. With a suite of useful tools to streamline the musical experience, The Musick Space offers a comprehensive, tailor-made solution for a pressing societal need.
What it does
The Musick Space is a thorough and functional musical collaboration application designed for amateurs and professionals alike. Unlike generic tools like Google Hangouts and Zoom, The Musick Space prioritizes providing super-low-latency audio to ensure usability for musical performances. In-browser web app and hassle-free room creation make it easy to get started with The Musick Space - just send a link to your bandmates and you’re ready to go. No friends, no problem: the nearby locator helps you find new musicians to jam out with. Select a piece from the library or upload a standard MusicXML file to queue up the sheet music for your group. On-time metronome and measure highlighting functionalities sync across your room, keeping everybody on the same page. When you’re ready to go big, one-click go-live allows your group take your turn in the spotlight. While you bask in Internet stardom, viewers from around the world can applaud in appreciation of your musical magnificence.
How we built it
The Musick Space integrates a wide array of technologies to achieve the multi-layered functionalities it offers:
- Google Maps
- Oracle Cloud Infrastructure
- Compute Instance
- Autonomous Database
- Load Balancers
- Domain.com (themusick.space)
(3 of these are actually just Pokemon)
Challenges we ran into
- Parsing MusicXML (is that a pi/4 time signature)
- Websockets had a bad breakup with our backend (don’t worry, they’re back together now)
- React app b l o a t
- I dropped my Oracle Wallet somewhere and I couldn’t find it for a while :(
Accomplishments that we're proud of
It works!!! Glad that despite the chaos around us, we were able to hunker down and churn out something awesome over 36 hours. Being able to turn off our Zoom call and instead communicate using our own collaboration tool was an absolutely fantastic experience; clicking the button to clap for ourselves was the cherry on top.
What we learned
- Oh, so that’s why they’re called ‘React best practices’
- Everybody’s sleeping on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure
- SQL can be fun!
- Sharpening CSS skills - no more flexbox frenzy
- Setting A Record for how fast we could bring up a new Domain.com website
What's next for muSICK
In terms of scope, there’s a lot more for us to tackle:
- Facebook OAuth Login - couldn’t get the API working this time D;
- Beatcoins - currency for streamers, a la Twitch Bits
- Curated concert halls - more formal, scheduled performances
- Musician discovery - finding the next popular star before they make it
- Optimizing web sockets - need moaar speeeed
Because we've self-signed our SSL certificate, most browsers will require you to manually approve each of the links before they will accept the certificate as valid.
1. Go to https://api.themusick.space and click through any warnings about insecure connections. You should see a 'Hello World!' message.
2. Go to https://www.themusick.space and click through any warnings about insecure connections. You should see the landing screen.
links are dead now bc $$$ rip