Posts with «midi» label

Less Rock, More Roll: A MIDI Barrel Piano

Strolling around a park, pedestrian zone, or tourist area in any bigger city is rarely complete without encountering the sound of a barrel organ — the perfect instrument if arm stamina and steady rotation speed are your kind of musical skills. Its less-encountered cousin, and predecessor of self-playing pianos, is the barrel piano, which follows the same playing principle: a hand-operated crank rotates a barrel, and either pins located on that barrel, or punched paper rolls encode the strings it should pluck in order to play its programmed song. [gabbapeople] thought optocouplers would be the perfect alternative here, and built a MIDI barrel piano with them.

Keeping the classic, hand-operated wheel-cranking, a 3D-printed gear mechanism rolls a paper sheet over a plexiglas fixture, but instead of having holes punched into it, [gabbapeople]’s piano has simple markings printed on them. Those markings are read by a set of Octoliner modules mounted next to each other, connected to an Arduino. The Octoliner itself has eight pairs of IR LEDs and phototransistors arranged in a row, and is normally used to build line-following robots, so reading note markings is certainly a clever alternative use for it.

Each LED/transistor pair represents a dedicated note, and to prevent false positives from neighboring lines, [gabbapeople] 3D printed little collars to isolate each of the pairs. Once the signals are read by the Arduino, they’re turned into MIDI messages to send via USB to a computer running any type of software synthesizer. And if your hands do get tired, you can also crank it with a power drill, as shown in the video after the break, along with a few playback demonstrations.

It’s always fun to see a modern twist added to old-school instruments, especially the ones that aren’t your typical MIDI controllers, like a harp, a full-scale church organ, or of course the magnificently named hurdy-gurdy. And for more of [gabbapeople]’s work, check out his split-flip weather display.


Unique Musical Instrument Defies Description

Since the first of our ancestors discovered that banging a stick on a hollow log makes a jolly sound, we hominids have been finding new and unusual ways to make music. We haven’t come close to tapping out the potential for novel instruments, but then again it’s not every day that we come across a unique instrument and a new sound, as is the case with this string-plucking robot harp.

Named “Greg’s Harp” after builder [Frank Piesik]’s friend [Gregor], this three-stringed instrument almost defies classification. It’s sort of like a harp, but different, and sort of like an electric guitar, but not quite. Each steel string has three different ways to be played: what [Frank] calls “KickUps”, which are solenoids that strike the strings; an “eBow” coil stimulator; and a small motor with plastic plectra that pluck the strings. Each creates a unique sound at the fundamental frequency of the string, while servo-controlled hoops around each string serve as a robotic fretboard to change the notes. Sound is picked up by piezo transducers, and everything is controlled by a pair of Nanos and a Teensy, which takes care of MIDI duties.

Check out the video below and see if you find the sound both familiar and completely new. We’ve been featuring unique instruments builds forever, from not-quite-violins to self-playing kalimbas to the Theremincello, but we still find this one enchanting.

Hack a Day 11 Apr 21:00
arduino  fret  guitar  harp  midi  musical hacks  nano  plectrum  pluck  servo  solenoid  string  teensy  

The ZT-2020 is a portable SunVox synth

SunVox synth software allows you to create electronic music on a wide variety of platforms. Now, with his ZT-2020 project — which resembles a miniature arcade game — YouTuber “fascinating earthbound objects” has a dedicated input scheme.

This cabinet prominently features a wide array of buttons, a directional input from a PlayStation controller, and 16 potentiometer knobs. There’s also a screen on top for video output. 

Inside a Raspberry Pi runs SunVox, while most of the buttons and all of the input knobs are connected to an Arduino Mega. The Mega plays the role of MIDI controller as well, passing digital music info along to produce beautiful electronic music!

Arduino Blog 11 Feb 19:41

The Synthfonio is a guitar-shaped MIDI instrument

Learning to play an an instrument well takes a lot of time, which many people don’t have. To address this, Franco Molina — who enjoys MIDI controllers and writing music, but describes himself as being terrible at playing the keyboard — created the Synthfonio.

Molina’s DIY device is vaguely reminiscent of a guitar, with a series of keys on the neck that indicate the chords and key signatures, and another set roughly positioned where you’d strum a guitar to play the notes.

The Synthfonio is assembled from laser-cut MDF sections, and utilizes a MKR WiFi 1010 to take care of I/O and MIDI functions. A second microcontroller in the form of an ATmega328 on a breadboard is used to produce actual synth sounds, though most Arduinos would be suitable either function.

The Synthfonio features 2 sets of keys, one to define chords and key signatures, and another one to actually play the notes. Whatever chord is pressed in the instruments neck keys, will define the pitch of the keys on the instrument handle. Similar to a guitar, violin, and other string instruments; with the added advance that the Synthfonio is a smart device that can deduce the chords being played from a single set of notes. This way, for example, the musician can use the handle keys to play chords, melodies, and arpeggios in the key of A, just by pressing the A key on the neck. In the same way, pressing the A key on the neck in conjunction with the C key (minor third of A) will activate an A minor tonality for the handle keys.

This can allow any player to execute a 4-chord melody, accompaniment, or even improvisation; with no more than one or two fingers in position.

Arduino Blog 30 Jan 20:21

Fabric(ated) Drum Machine

Some folks bring out an heirloom table runner when they have company, but what if you sewed your own and made it musical? We’d never put it away! [kAi CHENG] has an Instructable about how to recreate his melodic material, and there is a link to his website, which describes his design process, not just the finished product. We have a video below showing a jam session where he exercises a basic function set.

GarageBand is his DAW of choice, which receives translated MIDI from a Lilypad. If you don’t have a Lilypad, any Arduino based on the ATmega328P chip should work seamlessly. Testing shows that conductive threads in the soft circuit results in an occasional short circuit, but copper tape makes a good conductor  at the intersections. Wide metallic strips make for tolerant landing pads beneath modular potentiometers fitted with inviting foam knobs. Each twist controls a loop in GarageBand, and there is a pressure-sensitive pad to change the soundset. Of course, since this is all over MIDI, you can customize to your heart’s content.

MIDI drums come in all shapes and sizes, from a familiar game controller to hand rakes.

theMIDInator is a marvelous MIDI controller

While you may know on some level that an Arduino can help you make music, you probably haven’t seen as good an implementation as this MIDI controller by Switch & Lever. 

The device features a numeric pad for note input, which can also be used as a drum pad, and a variety of knobs and even a joystick for modifying the beats. Controls are housed inside a beautiful laser-cut, glued, and finished wooden enclosure.

An Arduino Mega (with its 54 digital IO and 16 analog pins) is used to accommodate the inputs, and data is passed on to a digital audio workstation, or DAW, to produce actual sound. 

Code and circuit diagrams are available here if you want to build one, though your setup can be customized however you like!

DIY MIDI Looper Controller Looks Fantastic!

Due to pedalboard size, complicated guitar pedals sometimes reduce the number of buttons to the bare minimum. Many of these pedals are capable of being controlled with an external MIDI controller, however, and necessity being the mother of invention and all, this is a great opportunity to build something and learn some new skills at the same time. In need of a MIDI controller, Reddit user [Earthwin] built an Arduino powered one to control his Boss DD500 Looper pedal and the result is great looking.

Five 16×2 LCD screens, one for each button, show the functionality that that button currently has. They are attached (through some neat wiring) to a custom-built PCB which holds the Arduino that controls everything. The screens are mounted to an acrylic backplate which holds the screens in place while the laser-cut acrylic covers are mounted to the same plate through the chassis. The chassis is a standard Hammond aluminum box that was sanded down, primed and then filler was used to make the corners nice and smooth. Flat-top LEDs and custom 3D printed washers finish off the project.

[Earthwin] admits that this build might be overkill for the looper that he’s using, but he had fun building the controller and learning to use an Arduino. He’s already well on his way to building another, using the lessons learned in this build. If you want to build your own MIDI controller, this article should help you out. And then you’re ready to build your controller into a guitar if you want to.

[Via Reddit]

Upgrading a MIDI Controller with an FPGA

While the “M” in MIDI stands for “musical”, it’s possible to use this standard for other things as well. [s-ol] has been working on a VJ setup (mixing video instead of music) using various potentiometer-based hardware and MIDI to interface everything together. After becoming frustrated with drift in the potentiometers, he set out to outfit the entire rig with custom-built encoders.

[s-ol] designed the rotary-encoder based boards around an FPGA. It monitors the encoder for changes, controls eight RGB LEDs per knob, and even does capacitive touch sensing on the aluminum knob itself. The FPGA communicates via SPI with an Arduino master controller which communicates to a PC using a serial interface. This is [s-ol]’s first time diving into an FPGA project and it looks like he hit it out of the park!.

Even if you’re not mixing video or music, these encoders might be useful to any project where a standard analog potentiometer isn’t accurate or precise enough, or if you just need something that can dial into a specific value quickly. Potentiometers fall short in many different ways, but if you don’t want to replace them you might modify potentiometers to suit your purposes.

Zany MIDI guitar made from barcode scanner and Arduino

You’ve seen barcode scanners register the price for your groceries, and likely in many other applications, but did you ever consider if one could be made into an instrument? Well we now know the answer, thanks to this MIDI guitar by James Bruton.

Bruton’s amazing device presents a matrix of barcodes arranged on the instrument’s four necks, allowing him to select the note to be played with a scanner gun.

The scanned code then triggers a note that’s piped to an output device via an Arduino Mega and MIDI shield. A joystick, spinner, and arcade buttons are also available for functions such as note cutoff, changing the octave, and pitch bends.

Horizontal laser harp is like none you’ve ever seen before

Apparently not content with a traditional laser harp, Jonathan Bumstead set out to take things in a different direction. What he came up with is a device whose laser strings are arranged horizontally, and loop though its boxy structure for an amazing audiovisual effect. 

The aptly named Upright Laser Harp is divided up into six rows, which each contain two laser/photoresistor pairs for an instrument total of 12 notes. Each laser is reflected once before hitting its photoresistor to wrap the entire structure in light, and values are sensed by an Arduino Mega as note inputs. Sounds are then generated by an Adafruit Music Maker Shield, and different MIDI instruments are selected with a rotary switch and a stepper-based electromechanical display system. 

Laser harps are musical devices with laser beam “strings.” When the beam is blocked, a note is played by the instrument. Usually laser harps have the beams travel vertically in the shape of a fan or vertical lines. 

In this project, I built a laser harp with stacked laser beams that propagate horizontally. The beams reflect off mirrors to form square shaped beam paths. Instead of a MIDI output like my previous laser harp, this device has built-in MIDI player so the output is an audio signal. This means the device does not have to be connected to a computer or MIDI player (e.g. keyboard) to play sound. Both built-in speakers and audio output jack are available for playing music.

Be sure to check out the mini-concert and build details in the video below!