2023 Synthmas Contest

Submit your project
Click here to submit your design

About the contest

The holiday break is just around the corner, and we can't think of a better way to spend the time than building synthesizers! If you can relate, this competition is for you. We've partnered up with the engineers and designers at Qu-Bit and Electro-Smith to run the first edition of the Synthmas challenge!It is an open competition for beginners and pros who want to push the boundaries of synth design and interaction. Let's build some wild open-source synthesizers this holiday season!

Goals

  • Invite (beginner) makers, musicians and artists to design their own instruments
  • Contribute to the global open-source synthDIY library with unique instruments and designs
  • Encourage collaboration, learning, and exploration within the synthDIY community.

Rules

Eligibility

The contest is open to individuals and teams worldwide. Beginners and experienced!

Participants must have access to a Daisy Seed and MPR121 touch sensor for their projects. Simple Touch board is not mandatory, but can help in quick prototyping.

Project Requirements

Projects must be centered around creating music or sound-related experiences.

Participants can use any programming language or platform compatible with the Daisy Seed microcontroller.

Projects must incorporate at least one MPR121 touch sensor.

Submissions should include a clear video demonstration of the project in action.

Projects should be released on Github under an open source license, so the community can explore and learn from one another.

Repurpusing/re-using old projects

If you've designed instruments/effects using the Daisy, and they don't have touch control yet, you can add touch and submit them. Just make sure that the interaction is unique.

Multiple submission allowed

You can submit up to 3 projects. You can also submit a project with multiple versions (for example, touch sensor is used in 3 different ways, while synth engine is the same)

Judges

Qu-Bit | Electro-Smith | Synthux Academy

Submission Guidelines

Submit your project here, including:

  • Project title and a brief description.
  • Hardware and software used.
  • Codebase.
  • Wiring diagrams or schematics (if required).
  • A video (1-3 minutes) showcasing the project's functionality.

Use this form to submit your project/s

Evaluation Criteria

  • Creativity (30%): How unique and imaginative is the instrument?
  • Functionality (30%): Does the project effectively utilize the Daisy Seed microcontroller and MPR121 touch sensor to create a compelling musical experience?
  • User Interaction (20%): How user-friendly and accessible is the project?
  • Documentation (10%): The clarity and completeness of the submitted documentation.
  • Presentation (10%): The quality and clarity of the video demonstration.

Prizes

All Valid Projects

All valid projects will be shared on our official GitHub repository and socials (with consent, of course). We'll do our best to share your work on socials, our newsletter, and make videos featuring your designs. Of course, we'll ask for your consent before making anything public. We want to give the stage to people who contribute to the community and help strengthen the global open-source synthDIY library.

First Place - Simple Synth DIY Kit

Simple Synth Kit including the Synthux flagship board and all the components you need to build your own instruments! It also comes with access to our beginners video course - Introduction to Synth Programming on the Daisy Seed.

Second Place - Simple Synth Touch Kit

Simple Touch Kit including our new Touch board and all the components you need to build your own Simple Touch Synth! and access to our beginners video course - Introduction to Synth Programming on the Daisy Seed. Simple Touch has 12 touch pads, Daisy Seed microcontroller, 6 pots, 2 switches, 2 faders, stereo input and output.

Third Place - 2 X Daisy Seed Microcontrollers

2 X Daisy Seed Microcontrollers. The Daisy Seed is a microcontroller designed for electronic music instruments. Build anything from an effects box to a full fledged synthesizer, sampler, drum machine or sequencer with this powerful board!

Timeline

  • Contest Launch: December 11, 2023
  • Submission Deadline: January 14, 2024
  • Judging Period: January 14 - 16, 2024
  • Winners Announcement: January 16, 2024

How to submit projects

Click here to open the project submission form

Tips for participants

Daily challenge

As you start to develop ideas it’s good practice to play with the code every day a little. Try to use the various example codes provided by Electro-Smith, and Synthux Academy (check our Github repositories).

Try to patch ideas together - connecting oscillators and effects together in interesting ways and controlling them with the touch pads.

Social engagement

Share your progress on socials using the hashtag #Synthmas2023. Tag @synthuxacademy, @electrosmith and @Cubit on Instagram to show your progress and direction.

Where to get technical help

Join our Discord server to discuss your projects, seek help, and collaborate. We are an open community of musicians, engineers, designers, artists and makers!

By participating in the competition, you not only stand a chance to win exciting prizes but also contribute to the music tech open source community and help explore the intersection of music, sound and technology. Good luck!

Resources

Check out some open source projects on the Synthux Github page. There’s already an arpeggiator, drum machine, looper and drone!

Need some ideas?

Here are some to get you started:

  • A multi-effect processor with touch controlled combinations
  • An FM synth with touch control over ratios
  • A subtractive synth with an inspiring touch keyboard
  • A noise box with unpredictable, yet intriguing, touch controls
  • An evolving string instrument with touch controlled parameters
  • A touch-controlled granular synth where two or more pads can be combined to define grain size or behaviour
  • A generative rhythm box controlled by touch patching
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