About Code + Chords

Code + Chords is an open source, real-time music visualization software. Led by a group of undergraduate students with backgrounds in computer science, engineering, and music, we have developed an open source coding library for creating real-time visual displays based on vocal inputs.

Code + Chord’s real time visual displays are based on multiple vocal inputs or MIDI piano keyboard input using Java, the Processing language, and PortAudio API. Using the Processing library, a sketchbook software for graphic design, powerful visuals can be made. This in conjunction with audio taken in from a microphone or MIDI piano keyboard can create visuals for music visualization that is capable of adding more depth to music.

But that’s enough of the techy stuff (for now). We created Code + Chords so that learners of all ages and experiences can use computer processing in a way that isn’t traditionally taught in computer science classrooms. Using Code + Chords, you can create an interactive experience for your personal music visualization projects, or as a way to add some color to your next vocal event, such as a choir concert or acapella performance. Download our .jar file to interact with our premade visuals, or use our open source processing library to create your own visual – the choice is yours! By empowering people to use code in a creative and collaborative way, we can engage with the humanity of learning and imagine new possibilities through interactive coding.

Code + Chords was developed at the Playful Learning Lab at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota. The Playful Learning Lab’s mission is to develop new ways of incorporating joy, whimsy, and play into education. One of the ways we believe you can do that is by finding new playmates to explore with, something that Code + Chords has wholly embraced over the years. The Code + Chords group has collaborated with performers like the ensemble Cantus and the University of St. Thomas’s female acapella group, Cadenza, to product creative show treatments. Additionally, we have hosted computer science workshops for children at St. Paul Public Libraries and elementary schools in the Twin Cities area. The Code + Chords software was also featured in an episode of TPT’s SciGirls, which will premiere Fall of 2019.

Now you know all about us! But we know nothing about you – do you have questions about our software? Want to share your visual experience with us or show us a performance you did using Code + Chords? Reach out to us at hello@codenchords.wpengine.com to share any questions, comments or concerns, we can’t wait to hear from you!

Code + Chords Staff


(Civil  Engineering, ‘21) Project Manager for the Code+Chords team in the Playful Learning Lab. Exploring ways that STEM intersects with creative passions and finding ways to inspire new generations of engineers.


(Computer Engineering, ‘21) Member of the OK Go Sandbox project and the Code & Chords team for playful learning lab. Aims to incorporate her love of teaching students in her work.

Esmee Verschoor

(Communications & Journalism ’20) is the Visual Lead for the Playful Learning Lab. She is focusing on designing engaging and creative content for lab projects including Code + Chords, OK Go Sandbox, and Deaf Education.