It goes without saying that not everyone has the same taste in music, and what sounds amazing to one person will be the next person’s noise. But even if you’re not into hip-hop and the whole DJ scene, it’s hard not to be impressed with what [Jeremy Bell] has done here with his homemade tape loop “scratching” rig.
Most people have probably seen a DJ in a club using dual turntables to scratch or “scrub” a vinyl record back and forth to create effects that add to the music. Part musician and part performance artist, DJs and “turntablists” tend to be real crowd-pleasers. [Jeremy]’s “ScrubBoard” uses a loop of 2″ audiotape, the kind recording studios once used for multitrack recordings. The loop is driven across a wide platen by a motor with a foot pedal control, which he can use to quickly reverse the direction of travel and control the speed of the tape. A pair of playback heads are wired into the amplifier and can be positioned anywhere on the sometimes moving, sometimes stationary tape. The sounds he can create are rhythmic, percussive, and at times frenetic, but they’re always interesting. Check it out in action in the video below.
This version of the ScrubBoard is far from the first [Jeremy] has built. You may recall his first prototype from our coverage in 2014; that one used just a few feet of 1/4″ tape fixed to a board. He was still able to get some great sounds from it, but this version should really change things for him.
Continue reading “DJ Scratches Out Club Music With Tape, Not Turntables”
Convenient and inexpensive, plastic beverage bottles are ubiquitous in modern society. Many of us have a collection of empties at home. We are encouraged to reduce, reuse, and recycle such plastic products and [Kaboom Percussion] playing Disney melodies on their Bottlephone 2.0 (video embedded below) showcases an outstanding melodic creation for the “reuse” column.
Details of this project are outlined in a separate “How we made it” video (also embedded below). Caps of empty bottles are fitted with commodity TR414 air valves. The pitch of each bottle is tuned by adjusting pressure. Different beverage brands were evaluated for pleasing tone of their bottles, with the winners listed. Pressure levels going up to 70 psi means changes in temperature and inevitable air leakage makes keeping this instrument in tune a never-ending task. But that is a relatively simple mechanical procedure. What’s even more impressive on display is the musical performance talent of this team, assisted by some creative video editing. Sadly for us, such skill does not come in a bottle. Alcohol only makes us believe we are skilled without improving actual skill.
But that’s OK, this is Hackaday where we thrive on building machines to perform for us. We hope it won’t be long before a MIDI-controlled variant is built by someone, perhaps incorporating an air compressor for self-tuning capabilities. We’ve featured bottles as musical instruments before, but usually as wind instruments like this bottle organ or the fipple. This is a percussion instrument more along the lines of the wine glass organ. It’s great to see different combinations explored, and we are certain there are more yet to come.
Continue reading “Pouring Creativity Into Musical Upcycling Of Plastic Bottles”
Some humans are blessed with perfect pitch, an ability that comes in handy when pursuing the musical arts. For many others though, a little help is often appreciated. A pitch pipe is a handy way to find the starting note of a performance, and [Isaac] decided to build his own in the digital realm.
The project is based on the Adafruit Circuit Playground express, which packs in all the peripherals needed right on board. The buttons are used to select the pitch required, with the LEDs used to display the selected note. Blue means flat, green means natural, and red means sharp. A 3D printed outer ring is clipped on to the board to denote the pitches for the user. To play the note, the user simply blows on the pitch pipe. The onboard MEMS microphone detects this and plays the note on the onboard speaker.
It’s a tidy little project that is a great way to get one’s feet wet with embedded programming and working with audio. We’ve seen the Circuit Express pop up before too, such as in this pizza-box DJ mixer. Video after the break.
Continue reading “A Digital Pitch Pipe Gets You In Tune”
The name Ondophone is a mash-up of two instruments, the Marxophone, and the ondes martenot. From the Marxophone, [Wintergatan] borrows the spring-loaded hammers, which repeatedly strike a string once activated. The ondes martenot loans its Theremin-like sound and ability to lean back on western semi-tone notes. Mating such different instruments requires a team, and much like the name, it produces a splendid blend.
At the left-hand side of the Ondophone, we see the spring-hammer battering away on a steel string whenever the neck moves up or down. Next to it is an Ebow that vibrates a string with an electromagnet and can maintain a note so long as it has power. Hidden within the neck are magnets to demarcate semi-tone locations, so it’s possible to breeze past them for a slide sound or rest on them to follow a tune.
The combination of intermittent hammering and droning lends well to the “creepy” phase of the song, which leads segues to the scope-creep that almost kept this prototype on the drawing board. The video talks about all the things that could have been done with this design, which is a pain/freedom we know well. KISS that Ondophone headline act goodbye.
The ondes martenot is an early electronic instrument, so we’ve some high-tech iterations, and if you haven’t heard what’s possible with a DIY Ebow, we will harp on you.
Continue reading “Ondophone On Point”
[lookmumnocomputer] enjoys creating synthesizers, and early last year he created one called The Fart Box. It is an entirely analog synthesizer with which, according to its creator, it is difficult to make anything that doesn’t sound gassy. It’s not quite like any other synthesizer, and while it is capable of acting like a regular analog synth it is never very far from cranking out farty sounds.
One may think this is just a gimmick, but it can actually be quite musical. There’s a good demonstration at the 7:09 mark in the video of what it can do. Entirely hand-made, it’s definitely a labor of love. There’s a bill of materials and a wiring diagram (of a sort) for anyone who is interested in such details, but it looks like it was a limited run only. [lookmumnocomputer]’s whole video is embedded below, and he demonstrates its ability to act more like a “normal” synthesizer around 8:30.
Continue reading “The Fart Box, A Synthesizer Not Quite Like Others”
There are countless ways to create music. In the simplest form, it won’t even require any equipment, as evidenced by beatboxing or a capella. If we move to the computer, it’s pretty much the same situation: audio programming languages have been around for as long as general-purpose high-level languages, and sound synthesis software along with them. And just as with physical equipment, none of that is particularly necessary thanks to
sed. Yes, the
sed, the good old stream editor, as [laserbat] shows in her music generating script.
Providing both a minified and fully commented version of Bach’s Prelude 1 in C major as example, [laserbat] uses a string representation of the sheet music as the script’s starting point, along with a look-up table of each transformed note’s wavelength. From here, she generates fixed length PCM square wave signals of each of the notes, to be piped as-is to the sound card via ALSA’s
aplay or SoX’s
play. To keep things simple enough, she stays within the region of printable characters here, using space and tilde as low and high values respectively, providing highest possible volume at the same time this way.
The concept itself is of course nothing new, it’s how
.wav files work, as well as these little C lines. And while the fixed note duration takes away some of the smoothness in [laserbat]’s version, adding variable duration might just be a hint too much for a
sed implementation, although we’ve certainly seen some more complex scripts in the past.
Bluntly stated, music is in the end just applied physics. Harmony follows — depending on the genre — a more or less fixed set of rules, and there are a limited amount of variation possible within the space of music itself. So there are technically only so many melodies possible, making it essentially a question of time until a songwriter or composer would come up with a certain sequence of notes without knowing that they’re not the first one to do so until the cease and desist letters start rolling in.
You might well argue that there is more to a song than just the melody — and you are absolutely right. However, current copyright laws and past court rulings may not care much about that. Aiming to point out these flaws in the laws, musician tech guy with a law degree [Damien Riehl] and musician software developer [Noah Rubin] got together to simply create every possible melody as MIDI files, releasing them under the Creative Commons Zero license. While their current list is limited to a few scales of fixed length, with the code available on GitHub, it’s really just a matter of brute-forcing literally every single possible melody.
Admittedly, such a list of melodies might not have too much practical use, but for [Damien] and [Noah] it’s anyway more about the legal and philosophical aspects: musicians shouldn’t worry about getting sued over a few overlapping notes. So while the list serves as a “safe set of melodies” they put in the public domain, their bigger goal is to mathematically point out the finite space of music that shouldn’t be copyrightable in the first place. And they definitely have a point — just imagine where music would be today if you could copyright and sue over chord progressions.
Continue reading “Brute-Forced Copyrighting: Liberating All The Melodies”