Pan Flute Hero

panflutehero

The latest creation in the never-ending collection of “____ Hero” instruments is this Raspi-infused pan flute, built by [Sven Andersson] and his team at the 2013 WOW Hackathon. The flute itself consists of varying lengths of bamboo from a local flower shop, cut short enough to be hand-held while still hiding the Pi from the front side. In the spirit of other ‘Hero’ instruments, the pan flute has no real musical functionality. Each pipe houses what appears to be an electret microphone breakout board, which they kept in place by sealing off the end of the pipe with glue.

The sensors connect to the GPIO connector on the Raspi, which communicates to a local TCP/IP server the team ran as a controller hub. The game is also their original creation, written entirely in LUA. They turned to Spotify to find suitable material for the player to experience, creating playlists with actual pan flute songs and using the libspotify SDK to access the music. You can see the end result of the project in a short demo video below.

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Steam fife

This auto-flute does it with steam. Well, electricity gets its piece of the action too as the tone holes are opened and closed using a set of solenoids.

We’re at a loss on how the sound is actually produced. We would think that a penny whistle has been used here, except if that were the case the solenoid nearest the kettle would have no use. Then again, after watching the demo after the break we’re not sure that it does have much of an effect. It may be meant to stop the sound but it doesn’t really work all that well.

At any rate we’d love to see some spin-off hacks. Assuming the plastic can stand up to the steam heat this would be a perfect robot controller for recorder controlled snake. You can get a recorder for a buck at the right dollar store, and solenoids can be made out of simple materials. If you know of a way to produce the sound yourself, all it takes are a few careful calculations to place the tone holes.

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Electronic recorder conversion

As we wrote the title to this feature we can see why [Jeff Ledger] calls it an electronic flute and not a recorder; this is a musical instrument and not something for archiving audio. Confusion aside, we’re all familiar with these plastic ‘musical’ instruments. Many elementary schools in our area require students to buy one as part of music class. So it shouldn’t be hard to find one if you want to try this for yourself (heck, [Jeff] grabbed his a the dollar store).

Basically, he’s replaced the finger holes with momentary press switches, then uses a Propeller dev board to turn the button presses into music. It’s simple and quick, but what does it for us is the breath actuator. Sure, you can set this up to play whenever a button is depressed, but [Jeff] went that extra mile and added a piezoelectric element to the bottom. When you blow through the instrument it flexes slightly, generating a tiny current that can be measured by the microcontroller. Check out the short clip after the break.

Do a little more work and you could turn this into some type of musical game controller. We’re thinking Zelda!

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Instruments as games – games as instruments

instruments-as-games

Here’s a pair of diametrically opposed hacks. One makes use of a real instrument to play Rock Band, the other makes use of a game controller to play real music.

[Tim] lets us know that his friend figured out how to play Rock Band 2 on expert level by playing flute instead of singing. Of course this works because the game is just looking for the correct frequency for scoring. It makes sense that the vocal lines can be offset by an octave and still register correctly. We wouldn’t have thought of this ourselves but now that we’ve seen her success, we will try it (our instrumental skills far out pace our singing talents).

Seeing this sparks a correlation with Phone Phreaking, which started with a blind kid singing a tone into the receiver to make the remainder of his long distance call free. This was followed by Blue Boxes that allowed people without perfect pitch to play the tones electronically. It would be interesting to see what could have been done with a talented flute player (like the beat-boxing flutist) and one of those old phone networks.

On the other side of the coin, we have [Jordan's] project in which she creates midi controllers using Wii drums from Guitar Hero World Tour and Rock Band. The Guitar Hero drums are velocity sensitive, a feature she’s using in her setup. The MIDI data takes into account how hard the drums are struck and the resulting sound reflects that. This particular writeup outlines her use of Osculator for the velocity sensitive system, but you can also check out the tutorial she wrote covering the use of JunXion with the Rock Band controller that we covered in the past.

Video for both of these control schemes is included after the page break. We love to see people break the guise of “I’m creating music by playing a video game” and actually use their musical talents in a new and interesting way.

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