Classical’s greatest hits on hardware’s greatest flops

We get a lot of tips about old hardware playing recognizable tunes. But once in a while one of these projects goes above and beyond the others and this is a shining example of great hardware music. [FunToTheHead] put together a music video (embedded after the break) that shows his custom MIDI device playing Bach’s Toccata in d minor. He left some comments that clue us into the way he did it. Most obviously, he’s using the stepper motors from four floppy drives to create precisely pitched sounds. Internally, a PIC 18F14K50 acts as a MIDI-over-USB device, taking commands for all 128 MIDI notes as well as the pitch bends associated with them. The first four channels are played directly on each drive and the other twelve are triaged among the hardware by the microprocessor. But for the results heard in the video you’ll need to code your MIDI files by hand.

Bonus points to the video editor for the Phantom’s floppy-laden appearance in the video… it’s good to laugh!



  1. says:

    I will forever associate that melody with “the story of man”.

    Btw, love the sound of loading a 3.5″…

  2. dave says:

    all hardware should be required to play classical music

  3. cc says:

    The sond good, good work!

  4. woutervddn says:

    Saw this one on last week. Love it though.. :p I remember stressing about it being toccata and fugue in D minor by back and not Phantom of the Opera. But apparently it’s in the comment box now.

    anyways, who has some old drives lying around to donate? :p

  5. svofski says:

    I’ll be Bach! >B|

  6. Jeditalian says:

    man, computers used to be loud. i can’t do this without floppy disks, can i? i always either unplug or remove a floppy drive when i see it, or disable in BIOS. i don’t see why we can’t use floppy shaped flash memory.. even if it’s just a floppy disk with a microsd slot. the other way would be way too breakable.

  7. AshleyK says:

    +1 for the guy in the video and the floppy disk mask :)

  8. hubert says:

    i like those hacks of old hardware, good job.
    could you please show the sourcecode, or some links where i could learn about midi over usb???

  9. r_d says:

    Is the title totally nonsensical, or is there a pun I’m not getting?

    “creates” -> “greatest”?

  10. APerson says:

    Now that’s what I call a Bach up solution!

  11. Kyle says:

    r_d: ah, that’s what it’s supposed to be. szczys doesn’t speak very good english, you see.

  12. Sigg3 says:

    @Kyle: That’s SCSI to you!

  13. NatureTM says:

    I can’t decide whether to (A)bort,(R)etry, or(C)ontinue.

  14. Jac Goudsmit says:

    Awesome! Would be even more perfect if the front panel would say “d-” (D Minor, get it) instead of “d0″.

    LOL at the phantom and the error message :-)

  15. Remko says:

    would you be able to take a midi source and use this as a playback device, hack a keyboard to this and compose some music :)

  16. mavis says:

    @APerson: +1 for good punnage

  17. Daley says:

    The best part is at the very end – “Fugue not found. Please insert disks 5-8″

  18. Malikaii says:

    Very impressive.

  19. hackersmith says:

    You can get the full schematic over at his website now:

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