This week end was the Music Hackday in London. The event was great, with everything a hack day need: pizza, beer, and technical glitches during the demos :-) And, of course, lots of awesome hacks (including that amazing visualisation which didn't make it into the list for some reason).

With Christopher, Patrick and Nick, we created the MusicBore. The MusicBore is a completely automated radio DJ, which, well, tends to be really boring :-) We actually won two prizes with it! The one and the best hack one! We were really, really happy :-) But let the musicbore introduce itself:

Hello. I am the Music Bore. I play music and I like to tell you ALL about the music I play. I live on IRC. I get my information from BBC Music, BBC Programmes, last fm, the Echo Nest, Yahoo Weather and the web of Linked Data. To find out more, please visit You can dissect my disgusting innards on github. Now let me play you some music.

Here it is in action, the first one walks through Soul-ish tunes, whereas the second one goes into French punk-rock:

The Music Bore - Video 2 from Nicholas Humfrey on Vimeo.

The Music Bore - Video 1 from Nicholas Humfrey on Vimeo.

The MusicBore is powered by a new and exciting messaging technology: IRC :-) Lots of bots sit around in an IRC channel and talk to each other to create a radio show. The show is entirely created live, each bot contributing a specific ability to it. Just before the hack presentation, we had 10 bots in the same channel (all the bots sources are on github):
  • controller: In charge of starting the show by playing an introduction and choose a new song drawn from the BBC Music charts. Also in charge of re-drawing a new song in case the other bots gets stuck.
  • thebore: Renders information about a particular artist from BBC Music, BBC Programmes, Wikipedia, and other Linked Data.
  • connectionfinder: Given a seed artist, gives the next one in the playlist, along with an explanation of how it was chosen. Basically walks through Linked Data to discover new artists.
  • placefinder: Given a seed artist, gives the next one in the playlist, along with an explanation of how it was chosen. This bot is constrained to go through places, so will give connections like Did you know that David Guetta is born in Paris, and that Georges Garvarentz died in the same place?
  • musicfinder: Finds music content for an artist, using BBC Programmes segment data and the Surge Radio RDF.
  • trackfinder: Finds music content for an artist, using the Echonest API
  • irc2play: Say sentences and play tracks mentioned on IRC, mixing them using Jack, Madjack and JackMiniMix
  • weatherbot: Renders weather information from Yahoo
  • imagebot: Finds an image from BBC Music for a particular artist.
  • hotnessfinder: Find the hotness for an artist using the Echonest API, and constructs a sentence from it.

Here is a small diagram of how the different bots interact with each other (if you don't understand that diagram, that's fine, we don't either, but it does seem to work :-) ).


As I thought they were quite fun, here are the logs of the bbcmusicbore channel over the week-end. Here is a small best-of:

14:05 < yvesr> trackfinder: weezer
14:05 -!- trackfinder [n=trackfin@] has quit
[Remote closed the connection]
This happens a lot at the beginning of the log, bots just throwing exceptions and quitting irc.
11:25 < thebore> connectionfinder:
11:25 < connectionfinder> say:Did you know that David Guetta was born in
France which has leader name Nicolas Sarkozy, which has spouse Carla
11:25 < thebore> say:Carla Bruni has released 3 records. No Promises was
just terrible.
God. Nicolas Sarkozy is really in every media, even the randomly generated ones! thebore got enlightened on that one.
10:41 < yvesr> connectionfinder:
10:42 < connectionfinder> say:Did you know that Barry White died in the
same city as Chico Hamilton, Los Angeles?
A morbid playlist generation :-)
11:07 < thebore> say:Colin Murray on BBC Radio One is a massive fan. They
have a myspace at They sound a bit like Megadeth.
They have released 524 records. I really liked 2008-11-01: Rose Garden,
Portland, OR, USA.
Bootlegs FTW!
11:43 < yvesr> hotnessfinder: michael jackson
11:43 < hotnessfinder> say: Wow, michael jackson is really, really hot
right now! Did he die recently?
No comments
12:50 < thebore> connectionfinder:
12:50 < connectionfinder> say:Did you know that Dogg, Snoop is signed on
Death Row Records which was founded by Dr. Dre, which used to be quite
close to World Class Wreckin' Cru?
No, I didn't!
13:56 < thebore> say:Beverley Knight sounds a bit like Eternal.
In September 2005 Knight joined the likes of Bob Dylan and Joni
Mitchell by being made a Doctor of Music after receiving the honorary
degree from the University of Wolverhampton.
No, I didn't know either!

Right now, all the bots are offline (they were running on our laptops during the week end), but we plan to use the Amazon Web Services vouchers we won to make them run for a while :-)