For Science!
5 Crazy Ways to Make Music with Technology

CJ Miozzi | 24 Sep 2014 15:00
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5. Stepper Motors

What are we going to do with all those old floppy drives, dot matrix printers, and other stepper motor gadgets? Why, turn them into musical instruments, of course! Those annoying sounds that we used to complain about can actually be put to good use creating musical tones.

A stepper motor rotates a gear when voltage is applied to it. These motors tend to vibrate a lot, and as we previously established, a vibrating object projects sound waves through the air. With the right software and interface device, you can control the frequency at which a stepper motor "steps" - which will determine the pitch of the sound - as well as how long it steps to determine how long a given note is played.

The result? Classic midi songs rendered on obsolete hardware.

Leave a comment letting us know what your favorite technological instruments are, and link us to some videos of great techno-performances!

(We eagerly await the ten different videos of the Imperial March played on floppy drives that everyone's seen, but how about some more obscure examples, like Eye on the Tiger on a dot matrix printer?)


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