Reclaiming Old Tech for Music

I was brows­ing Slash­dot ear­li­er today when I came across a real­ly cool arti­cle show­ing how Tool­box Bodensee e.V. took a bunch of old flop­py dri­ves, added a con­troller with a piano inter­face, mount­ed the lot on a board with 3D print­ed hard­ware, and turned their strange mar­riage of parts into an entire­ly new kind of instrument.

Here we go …

… and it only gets weird­er from here.

This appears rel­a­tive­ly new, at least inso­far as it uses man­u­al input from a human-playable key­board. I was able to find old­er con­cepts of the flop­py dri­ve music box that took a more auto­mat­ed, PC-dri­ven approach, first demon­strat­ed in this Nyan Cat remix by YouTube user Gigaw­ipf:

… this ver­sion of “Nev­er Gonna Give You Up” by Pyro­Surge:

… and this Impe­r­i­al March by MrSolidSnake745:

But the fun does­n’t end there, not by a long shot! By hack­ing posi­tion­ing coils on a hard disk dri­ve, it’s pos­si­ble to make it vibrate at user selec­table fre­quen­cies and behave as a speaker.

Add sev­er­al of these mod­i­fied hard disks to your flop­py orches­tra, and you’ve instant­ly got a smoother, broad­er tonal range, as you’ll hear in this ren­di­tion of Depeche Mod­e’s “Mas­ter and Ser­vant” by Iron LongJohn:

All right, let’s take a break from the dri­ve music for a moment.

Actu­al­ly, let’s take the idea of repur­posed hard­ware in a total­ly dif­fer­ent direc­tion. Have you ever seen some­one turn pure elec­tric­i­ty into a speaker?

What about see­ing some­one use elec­tric­i­ty as a speak­er, and watch­ing them do it in style?

Here’s Arc Attack with a cou­ple of songs, the first one per­formed live at Mak­er Faire and the sec­ond per­formed with­out an audi­ence dur­ing a stu­dio session:

The Tes­la coil is note­wor­thy because it’s one of the orig­i­nals in the tech grave­yard, hav­ing pre­ced­ed the launch of the World Wide Web by a cool 100 years and hav­ing been reused from gen­er­a­tion to gen­er­a­tion in var­i­ous projects ever since. On behalf of exper­i­menters and mad sci­en­tists every­where, I think it’s safe to say these guys are doing it right.

Last but not least, let’s fin­ish today’s post with a press inter­view explain­ing how Arc Attack­’s equip­ment works, and what it took to con­nect one of these gigan­tic coils to a guitar:

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