Tag Archives: music

A smart guitar for blind, deaf, and mute people

via Raspberry Pi

ChordAssist aims to bring the joy of learning the guitar to those who otherwise may have problems with accessing guitar tutorials. Offering advice in Braille, in speech, and on-screen, ChordAssist has been built specifically for deaf, blind, and mute people. Creator Joe Birch, who also built the BrailleBox device, used Raspberry Pi, Google Assistant, and a variety of accessibility tools and technology for this accessible instrument.

Chord Assist: An accessible smart guitar for the blind, deaf and mute

Powered by the Google Assistant, read more at chordassist.com

Accessibility and music

Inspired by a hereditary visual impairment in his family, Buffer’s Android Lead Joe Birch spent six months working on ChordAssist, an accessible smart guitar.

The Braille converter of the ChordAssist guitar The ChordAssist guitar The screen of the ChordAssist guitar

“This is a project that I used to bring my love of music and accessibility (inspired by my family condition of retinitis pigmentosa) together to create something that could allow everyone to enjoy learning and playing music — currently an area which might not be accessible to all,” explained Joe when he shared his project on Twitter earlier this month.

BrailleBox

This isn’t Joe’s first step into the world of smart accessibility devices. In 2017, he created BrailleBox, an Android Things news delivery device that converts daily news stories into Braille, using wooden balls atop solenoids that move up and down to form Braille symbols.

Demonstration of Joe Birch's BrailleBox

ChordAssist

This same technology exists within ChordAssist, along with an LCD screen for visual learning, and a speaker system for text-to-speech conversion.

Chord Assist was already an Action on the Google Project that I built for the Google Home, now I wanted to take that and stick it in a guitar powered by voice, visuals, and Braille. All three of these together will hopefully help to reduce the friction that may be experienced throughout the process of learning an instrument.

ChordAssist is currently still at the prototype stage, and Joe invites everyone to offer feedback so he can make improvements.

To learn more about ChordAssist, visit the ChordAssist website and check out Joe’s write-up on Medium.

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Sync modular synths and electronic instruments with a DIY kit

via Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi community is wonderfully collaborative, with people all over the world supporting each other to make things they care about. It’s part of a much wider maker movement, and a new project from seismic industries, called spink0, brings the power of Raspberry Pi to another DIY community in the music world: modular synthesizer enthusiasts.

spink0 Raspberry Pi Zero W eurorack modular synth

Modular synths

Modular synthesizers are dedicated machines for creating and controlling electrically generated sounds. Unlike the ubiquitous electronic keyboards, they don’t offer pre-set sounds. Instead, they allow players to deeply manipulate the nature of sounds: by connecting different modules with each other via cables, players use signals from one module to affect and alter the sounds from another, and generally get very creative with not just the musical notes but the sound itself.

MOTM modular - Synth patch for second commission (by Charles Hutchins)

A low to middling number of cables

Modular synths have seen a huge growth in popularity in the last few years. This year’s BBC Proms even featured an improvised modular synthesizer performance in the Royal Albert Hall.

Recent developments in technology, and enterprising module creators, have made these machines much more accessible, largely through a modular synth format called eurorack. A thriving DIY community has also grown, with people assembling their own modular synths using kits or even building their own modules from scratch.

spink0 syncs music

Enter the Raspberry Pi Zero W, just the right size for adding sophisticated computing power to a eurorack module. The spink0 eurorack module uses the power of a Zero W to allow musicians to keep their eurorack synth music in time with music created with more common electronic instruments like drum machines and computers. The Zero W connects to a wireless network and uses the Ableton Link protocol to share timing information across this network. It converts this digital data into the analogue square wave clock pulses that modular synths use for musical timing.

spink-0 jam with launchpad and ableton

jam with spink-0. launchpad, the two spinks and ableton are synchronized with their integrated LINK protocol via a WLAN accesspoint provided by the 2nd spink module. Tempochange in Ableton at 0:37

With spink0, seismic industries have developed shaduzLABS’ original prototype pink-0 into an open-source DIY kit including PCBs and a panel that rather neatly integrate a Pi Zero into a eurorack module (a CLK/RST generator, to be exact).

spink0 PCBs — Raspberry Pi Zero W eurorack module.

The PCBs that seismic industries designed for spink0

Pi-powered electronic music jam sessions

This opens up a whole world of jamming potential to musicians who use these esoteric machines to make their sounds. A group of electronic musicians can get together, connect over a wireless network, and improvise ideas, all kept in time across the network. Thanks to spink0, eurorack synths can coexist with computers and even iPads and other tablets.

spink0 Raspberry Pi Zero W eurorack modular synth

spink0 without its top panel

Now anyone can link their modular synth with other music machines and computers for collaborative jams! Seismic industries offer the DIY kit, plus full instructions and code, so you can solder yours at home, or you can buy spink0 preassembled if you wish.

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Notable Board Books are an Arduino-powered way to enjoy music

via Arduino Blog

Annelle Rigsby found that her mother, who suffers from Alzheimer’s, is delighted to hear familiar songs. While Annelle can’t always be there to help her enjoy music, she and her husband Mike came up with what they call the Notable Board Book that automatically plays tunes.

The book itself is well laid-out, with song text and familiar photos printed on the pages. Electronics for the book are in a prototype state using an Arduino Uno and an Adafruit Sound Board to store and replay the audio bits.

Page detection is handled by an array of photocells, and it is meant to turn on automatically when picked up via a series of tilt switches. When a switch is triggered, a relay can then hold the book on until the song that is playing is done, or for a predetermined amount of time.

Your own Grand Theft Auto San Andreas radio

via Raspberry Pi

Relive the San Andreas glory days with this Grand Theft Auto radio built by Raphaël Yancey.

Raphaël Yancey on Twitter

With the “tuned” status LED. https://t.co/PuIi6sY78V

…and now I have Barracuda stuck in my head.

The music of GTA

Anyone who has played Grand Theft Auto knows that one of the best parts of the series is the radio stations: a mix of classic tunes and often comical DJ interludes make driving haphazardly through the streets of San Andreas a joy.

GTA

And much like fans of the Fallout series, many of us GTA players are guilty of listening to the in-game music outside of gaming sessions.

Hacking a radio

Maker Raphaël Yancey loves the San Andreas tunes so much, he decided to build his own Grand Theft Auto radio, complete with the MP3s available from Rockstar, the game’s creators.

Raphaël used a 1970s Optalix TO100 portable radio for this project, along with a Raspberry Pi 3. While this would be enough to create a music player, he also added two potentiometers for volume control and frequency tuning, as shown in the video above.

GTA Radio

Python code allows the potentiometers to move within a virtual frequency range of 88.7Mhz to 108.0Mhz, with five stations to find along the way. A LED comes on whenever the player finds a station, and the Pi then plays the music.

You can find Raphaël’s complete code for building your own GTA radio here. We’re keen to see what other game-based music projects our community will come up with. Here at Pi Towers, we have a spare Fallout Pip-Boy that’s aching to play the sweet sounds of the post-apocalyptic Commonwealth…

Raspberry Pi and music

The integration of Raspberry Pi within music projects is a theme we’re very fond of. From rejuvenated jukeboxes such as Tijuana Rick’s 1960’s Wurlitzer, to The Nest, a USB music download system built into Table Mountain, we’ve seen a host of imaginative projects and are always eager to discover more.

So if you’ve used a Raspberry Pi in your music project, whether it be a jukebox, a guitar pedal, or an instrument, be sure to share it with us.

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Invent new sounds with Google’s NSynth Super

via Raspberry Pi

Discover new sounds and explore the role of machine learning in music production and sound research with the NSynth Super, an ongoing project from Google’s Magenta research team that you can build at home.

Google Open NSynth Super Testing

Uploaded by AB Open on 2018-04-17.

What is the NSynth Super?

Part of the ongoing Magenta research project within Google, NSynth Super explores the ways in which machine learning tools help artists and musicians be creative.

Google Nsynth Super Raspberry Pi

“Technology has always played a role in creating new types of sounds that inspire musicians — from the sounds of distortion to the electronic sounds of synths,” explains the team behind the NSynth Super. “Today, advances in machine learning and neural networks have opened up new possibilities for sound generation.”

Using TensorFlow, the Magenta team builds tools and interfaces that let  artists and musicians use machine learning in their work. The NSynth Super AI algorithm uses deep neural networking to investigate the character of sounds. It then builds new sounds based on these characteristics instead of simply mixing sounds together.

Using an autoencoder, it extracts 16 defining temporal features from each input. These features are then interpolated linearly to create new embeddings (mathematical representations of each sound). These new embeddings are then decoded into new sounds, which have the acoustic qualities of both inputs.

The team publishes all hardware designs and software that are part of their ongoing research under open-source licences, allowing you to build your own synth.

Build your own NSynth Super

Using these open-source tools, Andrew Black has produced his own NSynth Super, demoed in the video above. Andrew’s list of build materials includes a Raspberry Pi 3, potentiometers, rotary encoders, and the Adafruit 1.3″ OLED display. Magenta also provides Gerber files for you to fabricate your own PCB.

Google Nsynth Super Raspberry Pi

Once fabricated, the PCB includes a table of contents for adding components.

The build isn’t easy — it requires soldering skills or access to someone who can assemble PCBs. Take a look at Andrew’s blog post and the official NSynth GitHub repo to see whether you’re up to the challenge.

Google Nsynth Super Raspberry Pi Google Nsynth Super Raspberry Pi Google Nsynth Super Raspberry Pi

Music and Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi has been widely used for music production and music builds. Be it retrofitting a boombox, distributing music atop Table Mountain, or coding tracks with Sonic Pi, the Pi offers endless opportunities for musicians and music lovers to expand their repertoire of builds and instruments.

If you’d like to try more music-based projects using the Raspberry Pi, you can check out our free resources. And if you’ve used a Raspberry Pi in your own musical project, please share it with us in the comments or via our social network accounts.

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pedalSHIELD MEGA is a programmable guitar pedal for your Arduino

via Arduino Blog

If you want to create new guitar sounds without having to redo your pedal wiring every single time, the pedalSHIELD MEGA from ElectroSmash could be just what you’re looking for.

The pedalSHIELD MEGA takes input from a guitar via a standard ¼-inch cable, and uses an Arduino Mega to process the sounds to your liking. This new sound is then output using two PWM pins for a 16-bit resolution.

The device, which is available in kit form or as a PCB, sits on top of the Mega as an amazing looking shield. In addition to a 3PDT true bypass footswitch, a toggle switch, and two pushbuttons, the pedalSHIELD MEGA features an OLED display for visual feedback. Once assembled, all you need to do for an entirely unique sound is program your own effects in the Arduino IDE!

This shield that is placed on top of an Arduino Mega has three parts:

Analog Input Stage: The weak guitar signal is amplified and filtered, making it ready for the Arduino Mega ADC (Analog to Digital Converter).

Arduino Mega Board: It takes the digitalized waveform from the ADC and does all the DSP (Digital Signal Processing) creating effects (distortion, fuzz, volume, delay, etc).

 Output Stage: Once the new effected waveform is created inside the Arduino Mega board, this last stage takes it and using two combined PWMs generates the analog output signal.

You can find more details on the pedalSHIELD MEGA here, and see it in action below!