Tag Archives: music

Play beautiful music on an Arduino thumb piano

via Arduino Blog

With an accelerometer and capacitive sensing, even a beginner can produce some great tunes with this DIY device.

If you like making beautiful music, but would rather not actually practice this skill, perhaps this thumb piano and controller by producer/DJ Rob Blazey would be a good instrument to pick up. His project, called “Kalimbo,” employs an Arduino to translate manipulations of metal rods, along with movement of the piano itself, into Open Sound Control (OSC) messages. These are then be used to produce music.

You first hear its awesomeness around the 1:00 mark in the video seen below. Even just moving it around sounds good, but it becomes incredible when he really starts playing just before 2:00!

Inside the instrument there is an Arduino with an accelerometer and a capacitive sensing wire, which is connected to the insulated bridge at the back, so touching the edge of that bridge acts as a trigger or switch or can control things more precisely depending on how hard you press it.

Intrigued? You can find more background on this project in mrblazey’s video description.

 

Circadia Sunrise Lamp Alarm

via Raspberry Pi

Florian loves sleeping and, like many of us, he doesn’t enjoy waking up. Alarm clocks irritate him, and radio alarms can be a musical disappointment, depending on the station.

For many, the lack of sunlight during winter months makes waking up even more of a struggle, with no bright glare through the curtains helping to prise our eyelids apart.

Iiiii… don’t knooooow-aaaaa… what the words reaaaaally aaaaaare…

Picking up on the concept of sunrise alarm clocks, and wanting to incorporate music into the idea, Florian decided to build the Circadia Sunrise Lamp. 

Circadia – sunrise medley

Circadia – sunrise lamp project https://sites.google.com/site/fpgaandco/sunrise Theme summary

Standing just under two metres tall, the lamp consists of three parts: the top section, housing a 3D-printed omnidirectional speaker system and orbiting text display; the midsection, home to 288 independently controlled RGB NeoPixel LEDs; and the bottom section, snugly fitting a midwoofer, Raspberry Pi, audio amp, and power supplies.

SUNRISE LAMP

Florian spent two years, on and off, working on the lamp and it’s fair to say that once he started getting to grips with the Python code, and was able to see the visual results, he became hooked on adding more and more themes. From Manila Sunrise to Sumatra Rain, each theme boasts its own colour cycle and soundtrack, all lasting approximately 40 minutes from start to refreshingly wonderful complete awakening. Florian writes:

[The lamp] makes it quite a bit easier for me to get out of bed every morning (with a silly grin on my face). It’s really surprisingly effective and hard to describe. Rather than being resentful that it is already time to get up, I am now more inclined to be eager to get going. If someone had told me how well this actually works I would have put a sunrise lamp in my bedroom years ago. 

But he didn’t stop there.

As the lamp’s main purpose is to wake Florian up in the morning, it was inevitably spending the majority of the day idle. To tackle this, Florian incorporated a music-reactive light show, plus an interactive version of Tetris because, to quote from makers the world over, “Why not?”

Circadia – Tetris

Circadia – sunrise lamp project https://sites.google.com/site/fpgaandco/sunrise

Florian, in all his brilliant maker glory, has provided an in-depth blog of the Circadia Sunrise Lamp, documenting the processes, the successes, and failures of the build, as well as his continued development of new themes.

We’ve seen a few different sunrise lamps, alarm clocks, and light shows over the years, all using a Raspberry Pi. But this one, combining elegant physical style with well-coded functionality, is certainly one of our favourites.

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Raspberry Pi Air Drum Kit

via Raspberry Pi

While perusing a local car boot sale, David Pride came across a Silverlit Air Drum Kit for the grand total of one whole shiny pound. And just like any digital maker, he bought it, realising the potential of this wondrous discovery.

David Pride Air Drum Kit

The original Silverlit Air Drum Kit

David had been recently fiddling with the Python CWiid library, a resource that allows you to use Wii controllers (Wiimotes) with a Raspberry Pi via Bluetooth. However, it was the setup of two controllers to a single Pi that was causing issues:

I’d only ever managed to get one controller working with a single Pi before, so the first challenge was to get a pair of controllers working as the ‘sticks’. That took a lot of mucking about, until I found the excellent post by WiiGate that detailed how to set up two controllers properly, using the MAC addresses. You can find it here.

Once this hurdle had been overcome, David collected a variety of open-source drum sample .wav files from the abundance of sound clips available on the web.

Did you honestly believe we’d get through this entire blog without a single cowbell reference?

David used Tkinter, writing a small app that would allow him to understand the positioning of the controllers, and as a result the data produced. Due to the nature of the controllers, movement wasn’t the only factor to consider. Speed and the way in which the controller was moved were also important. Move the controller quickly, and a different set of data is produced from that generated by a slower motion.

However, David isn’t one to give up and after a (relatively long) while, he had managed to plot positions for four distinct drum sounds:

I initially wanted to get three sounds on each controller, but the movement scale was a bit too tight to do it successfully every time, and two sounds often overlapped. So, I’m using the trigger button on each controller, combined with the movement for one of the sounds. This gives six different drum sounds, three per controller, that can be played without the sounds overlapping.

The final result of David’s tinkering is this wonderful air drum kit that provides a clean, impressive response with every movement. And because he’s such a lovely chap, all the code you need can be found at his GitHub page.

Raspberry Pi Air Drum Kit

Easy Python project using 2 Wii controllers and a Raspberry Pi to create an ‘air drum’ kit

So David, all we need now is the air guitar, air bass and air keyboard, and we’ve got the start of this year’s Christmas Number One.

Band name suggestions welcome…

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The MR-808 is a robotic drum “synthesizer”

via Arduino Blog

The MR-808 robotic drum machine looks like a gigantic Roland synthesizer, but plays with real instruments!

The Roland TR-808 was released in 1981 and was meant to replace a human drummer for practice purposes, but was instead used to produce music itself, helping to birth the electronic, techno, and hip hop genres. Moritz Simon Geist and the Sonic Robots collective, however, decided to turn this on its head, with a machine made to look like a gigantic ‘808, but containing real instruments.

With a variety of hardware, including an Arduino Uno and Mega, an audience can program the MR-808 using a tablet and get down to the grooves they create themselves!

In 2013 I [Geist] found Sonic Robots a loose group of friends, hackers, technicians and artists and we had the idea of reversing the concept of the ‘808 and putting the physical aspect back into this gorgeous drum machine. For the Installation MR-808 we began to replaced eleven sound with mechanical actuators like motors and solenoids, so that reals drums (snare, BD ..) could be played live.

You can read all about the device on the Sonic Robots page, as well as find more information on how it works here.

Play the guitar on a guitar bag

via Arduino Blog

While exploring new tangible interfaces, designer Martin Hertig wanted to do something a bit different. He chose to transform the zippers on a guitar bag into a fully-functional instrument. Rather than strum the strings of the guitar, he simply pulls the bag’s zippers to jam: one zip for playing notes or chords, another for changing the bar, and a third for the vibrato.

As Hertig explains, the case was converted into a MIDI controller using an Arduino and conductive thread stitched along the zipper, while a Raspberry Pi synthesizer hidden inside produces the guitar sounds.

Intrigued? Head over to Zippy’s project page, and be sure to see it in action below!

Raspberry Pi Chiptune Player

via Raspberry Pi

I have been staring at a blank screen for whole minutes. There are no words for just how much I love this project. I’ve already been on eBay to find a General Instrument AY-3-8910 series sound chip so I can play with one myself. Before we get into details, feast your ears.

vmw ay-3-8910 ym player

Raspeberry Pi Driving an AY-3-8910 sound chip It’s playing “intro2.ym” by Surgeon (Aleksy Lutsenko) More details on the setup can be found here: http://www.deater.net/weave/vmwprod/hardware/ay-3-8910/

What’s going on here? The Raspberry Pi is playing chiptunes by serving the files directly on to a AY-3-8910 (brought direct to you from the 1980s), while doing some rather jolly LED visualisation too.

The AY-3-8910 is no longer made: it was a piece of kit you’d find in most arcade machines, games consoles and home computers in the 1980s (if you had a ZX Spectrum, an Amstrad CPC or an Apple II, you’ll be familiar with its gorgeously grungy bleeps and bloops). Nowadays there’s dwindling stock that goes to service old machines, or to make entirely new things that’ll play chiptunes – like this beast.

chiptune player

Vince Weaver, the maker, says:

The AY-3-8910 is fairly straightforward. Three channels of square waves plus various noise and envelope effects. Provide a clock (1MHz in our case) and there are 16 (well, 14) on-chip registers you write to. Just put the address then the 8 bit value on the bus, toggle the 3 bus control pins, and you are set. You’ll want to do this fairly fast. A typical YM music file wants you to write all 14 registers every 50Hz.

I use the Pi’s GPIOs to shift an 8 bit value into a shift register. Then I use a few more to drive the control bus.

Visualization is done with some i2c LED displays.

The amplifier is an LM386 design from the AY-3-8910 datasheet.

Vince has plans to make some improvements (adding stereo, printing a PCB, swapping out for a better amplifier, using SPI to drive the shift register instead of GPIO and refining the software), but even in this prototype version, this is a piece of kit I’d love to have on my desk. Fortunately, we can replicate the project: everything you need is on Vince’s website and on GitHub. Thanks Vince!

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