Experiment using Riak Core to play distributed music.
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What is Basho Banjo?

Basho Banjo is an experiment in using Riak Core to create a distributed orchestra powered by midi files. It serves as a simple example of how to create a distributed application with Riak Core.

How Does it Work?

To understand 'Banjo, you first need to understand a little about Riak Core. Riak Core is an open-source Erlang library that allows you to create masterless distributed applications using the principles described in Amazon's Dynamo Paper. For more information about Riak Core, you can view this presentation.

For our purposes, there are two main things to consider when creating an application on Riak Core:

  1. Commands are the operations that you send to the system, and consist of an ObjectName and a Payload. Banjo commands consist of a command to play a note of a certain frequency/volume/duration.

  2. The VNode Module is a pluggable module that conforms to an interface provided by Riak Core that accepts incoming commands and acts on them. The Banjo VNode accepts the incoming command to play a note, generates a wave file (if it doesn't already exist) and then plays the file using aplay or afplay, depending on the platform. (Mac and Linux are supported... Windows is not.)

With these two things implemented, Riak Core does the rest of the work. It uses a consistent hash to route notes to specific VNodes, and it takes care of assigning VNodes (a.k.a. Virtual Nodes) to physical nodes, and re-assigning the VNodes when you add/remove physical nodes to/from the cluster.

The last part of the equation is some code that uses an Erlang midi library developed by Jim Menard to parse midi files and extract notes. The code than iterates through the notes with the correct timing, generating play commands to send to Riak Core.

How Do I Run Basho Banjo?

Get the Code and Compile

git clone https://github.com/rklophaus/BashoBanjo.git
cd BashoBanjo
make rel

Start Basho Banjo

cd rel/basho_banjo
bin/banjo console

Play a Note (from the Erlang console)


Play a Midi Tune


Connect to Another Banjo Node

If you want to run multiple nodes on a single computer, you can:

  1. Copy the files in rel/basho_banjo to another directory.
  2. Edit etc/vm.args and change the node name to something like banjo1@127.0.0.
  3. Edit etc/app.config and change the handoff port to avoid a port conflict.
  4. Start the new node.
  5. Join the new node to the existing node from the Erlang console: join('banjo1@hostname').
  6. Then, play a midi tune, which should play across both nodes: play("../../midi/mario.mid").