A baguette sits diagonally across a wooden cutting board. Above it sits an Arduino and an electronics breadboard.

Theremin Baguette Brings New Meaning To Breadboarding

Theremins are a bit of an odd instrument to begin with, but [AphexHenry] decided to put one where no theremin has gone before: into a baguette.

The “baguetophone” is a theremin and piezo-percussion instrument inside a hollowed-out baguette. Starting with a DIY theremin tutorial from Academy of Media Arts Cologne, [AphexHenry] added some spice with a piezo pickup inside the baguette to function as a percussion instrument. One noted downside of squeezing the instrument into such an unusual enclosure is that the antenna doesn’t respond as well as it might with a more conventional arrangement. Outputs from the piezo and antenna are run through Max/MSP on a computer to turn the bread into a MIDI controller. Like many DIY theremins, it appears that this build neglects the volume antenna, but there’s no reason you couldn’t add one. Maybe disguised as a piece of cheese?

Outside smuggling an instrument into a French café for a flash mob performance, this could also prove handy if you’re someone who gets hungry while playing music. We don’t recommend snacking on the Arduino even if it is ROHS compliant though.

If you want to learn more about how theremins work, check out Theremin in Detail. After that, you might want to browse all of our theremin articles or look at this project where they used a 555 instead.

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Glue-on nails with vinyl record pickups pierced through them that are used on a vinyl record

The Sound Of Nails On Black Vinyl Records

[Victoria Shen] modifies glue-on nails to give her the ability to play vinyl records with her fingers. Details are light but from the many glamour pictures, it looks like she pushes record player needles through glue-on nails with thin pickup wire that then presumably goes to an audio jack for amplification.

Photograph of hand with record needs through glue-on nails

[Victoria] experiments with novel musical tools for use in her art and performances. Be sure to check out the videos of the nails in action. The combination of “scratching” and ability to alter the speed of vinyl with the free fingers creates a weird and eerie experience.

Using her “Needle Nails”, [Victoria] has found she’s able to play multiple records simultaneously (Nitter). Thanks to the different diameters of 33, 78 and 45 vinyls, she’s able to stack them up while still keeping her fingers on them.

Glove like musical instruments are nothing new but the novel use of fashion, glamour and technology allow [Victoria Shen] the freedom to create something uniquely weird and cool, so much so that Beyonce used it in a video shoot for Vogue (Nitter).

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DIY bagpipe made from a latex glove and some straws.

Ring In The New Year With DIY Bagpipes

Remember early on in the pandemic when people would don protection just short of a full hazmat suit to go out, and wore rubber gloves to the grocery store? Was that just us? The point is, we are surely not alone in having an excess of latex gloves left over, and pitifully few uses for them aside from the usual — gross jobs around the house, and making hand-shaped ice cubes.

Circular breathing, explained.Well, here’s something a little more fun: DIY bagpipes. No matter how you feel about the sounds they produce, the way that bagpipes work is pretty interesting. In the video embedded after the break, [Charlie Engelman] shows us how they work and compares them to saxophonist Kenny G’s little jazz mouth.

See, Mr. G can circular breathe, which means he can hold a note for as long as he wants. Basically, he is able to keep a reserve of air in his mouth for playing the thing, while at the same time inhaling new air.

If we bring this back around to bagpipes, the bladder is akin to Kenny G’s mouth. It always contains air, so it perpetually releases air through the sound pipes that stick up. In the case of the glove pipe, the glove is the bladder, and the pipes are made of drinking straws. Check it out after the break — we think the sound is far more tolerable than real bagpipes.

We’ve seen bagpipes made from common household items before (if you consider a couple of plastic recorders to be common household items), and we’ve also seen real bagpipes go electromechanical.

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A Sympathetic Nail Violin

As a hacker community, we are no strangers to beautiful and unique musical instruments. A sympathetic nail violin built by [Nicolas Bras] is a welcome addition to the eclectic family. Working up from the simple idea of a nail in a piece of wood and adjusting the pitch by hammering the nail farther into the wood, [Nicolas] expanded the idea. With careful planning and tuning, the nails can have sympathetic properties. These properties mean that when one nail is played via a bow, it causes other nails to sound, creating harmonies and sustains.

With a bit of careful woodworking and a scant touch of metalwork, an instrument was crafted. It offers vast flexibility as it can be played by bow, by plucking with your finger, or by strumming. There are several levels of nails, each level having a paired sympathetic nail. This allows for a diverse and versatile instrument.

Here at Hackaday, we seem to have a thing for tiny violins, whether physical or virtual. While the nail violin may not look like your traditional violin, we can certainly appreciate the wonderful music it creates.

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Mattress-made MIDI Device Plays Exotic Tunes

Ever heard of a handpan? If not, imagine a steel drum turned inside out, and in case that doesn’t help either, just think of a big metal pan you play music with by tapping your hands on its differently pitched tone fields. But as with pretty much any musical instrument, the people around you may not appreciate your enthusiasm to practice playing it at any time of the day, and being an acoustic instrument, it gets difficult to just plug in your headphones. Good news for the aspiring practitioners of Caribbean music though, as [Deepsoul77] created a MIDI version of this rather young and exotic instrument.

Using the foam salvaged from an old mattress as the core of the handpan, [Deepsoul77] cut a couple of plywood pads as tone fields that will be attached to the foam. Each plywood tone field will then have a piezo element mounted in between to pick up the hand tapping. Picking up the tapping itself and turning it into MIDI signals is then handled by an Alesis trigger interface, which is something you would usually find in electronic drums. From here on forward, it all becomes just a simple USB MIDI device, with all the perks that brings along — like headphone usage or changing MIDI instruments to make anything sound like a trumpet.

Turning what’s essentially a drum kit into a melodic instrument is definitely neat, and to no surprise, we’ve also seen the actual home made drum kit with piezo elements. Of course, using MIDI to quiet down an acoustic instrument isn’t new either, though it also works somewhat the other way around. But then again, it doesn’t always have to be MIDI either.

Axe Hacks: Spinning Knobs And Flipping Switches

From a guitar hacking point of view, the two major parts that are interesting to us are the pickups and the volume/tone control circuit that lets you adjust the sound while playing. Today, I’ll get into the latter part and take a close look at the components involved — potentiometers, switches, and a few other passive components — and show how they function, what alternative options we have, and how we can re-purpose them altogether.

In that sense, it’s time to heat up the soldering iron, get out the screwdriver, and take off that pick guard / open up that back cover and continue our quest for new electric guitar sounds. And if the thought of that sounds uncomfortable, skip the soldering iron and grab some alligator clips and a breadboard. It may not be the ideal environment, but it’ll work.

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Fail Of The Week: Putting Guitar Strings On A Piano

The piano is a bit of an oddball within the string instrument family. Apart from rarely seeing people carry one around on the bus or use its case to discretely conceal a Tommy Gun, the way the strings are engaged in the first place — by having little hammers attached to each key knock the sound of of them — is rather unique compared to the usual finger or bow movement. Still, it is a string instrument, so it’s only natural to wonder what a piano would sound like if it was equipped with guitar strings instead of piano wire. Well, [Mattias Krantz] went on to actually find out the hard way, and shows the results in this video.

After a brief encounter with a bolt cutter, the point of no return was reached soon on. Now, the average piano has 88 keys, and depending on the note, a single key might have up to three strings involved at once. In case of [Mattias]’ piano — which, in his defense, has certainly seen better days — a total of 210 strings had to be replaced for the experiment. Guitars on the other hand have only six, so not only did he need 35 packs of guitar strings, the gauge and length variety is quite limited on top. What may sound like a futile endeavor from the beginning didn’t get much better over time, and at some point, the strings weren’t long enough anymore and he had to tie them together. Along with some inevitable breakage, he unfortunately ran out of strings and couldn’t finish the entire piano, though it seems he still managed to roughly cover a guitar’s frequency range, so that’s an appropriate result.

We’re not sure if [Mattias] ever expected this to actually work, but it kinda does — there is at least some real sound. Are the results more than questionable though? Oh absolutely, but we have to admire the audacity and perseverance he showed to actually pull through with this. It took him 28 hours just to get the guitar strings on, and another good amount of time to actually get them all in tune. Did it pay off? Well, that depends how you look at it. It definitely satisfied his and other’s curiosity, and the piano produces some really unique and interesting sounds now — but check for yourself in the video after the break. But that might not be for everyone, so luckily there are less final ways to change a piano’s sound. And worst case, you can always just turn it into a workbench.

(Thanks for the tip, [Keith])

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