Who writes music for disk drives and releases it on diskettes

In the past, we talked about an engineer who turned the PC system bus into a radio signal transmitter and broadcast the songs to the radio.

But enthusiasts are finding ways to extract music from other computer components – flop drives in particular. In this case, the floppy disks themselves are returning as a niche audio drive. Let’s talk about this in more detail.

Photo: Brent Dalling.  Source: unsplash.com
Photo: Brent Dalling. Source: unsplash.com

Symphony on the flop

Back in 2011, Polish engineer Pawel Zadrozniak collected music kit of two floppy drives, and then performed with her help, the “Imperial March” from “Star Wars”. The sound was made by the stepper motors of the flop drives, and they were controlled by the ATMega microcontroller. Over the next five years, the enthusiast improved the device, connected additional drives, hard drives and flatbed scanners to it – the final system was called the “Flopotron”.

With its help, the musician reproduces cult and simply popular tracks. On his channel you can find covers of “sweet dreams» by Eurythmics, «Megalovania“Toby Fox and even a meme”Never Gonna Give You Up» Rick Astley.

In a sense, Pavel’s project marked the beginning of a whole genre of “iron” music. Thousands of enthusiasts around the world assemble their own flotation turrets. Some expand the acoustic capabilities of systems – for example, a user with the pseudonym MrSolidSnake745 used industrial stepper motors. They can be heard in the cover of the band’s track Metallica – “Fade to Black”. According to the author, electric motors give a cleaner sound, since they do not have to rotate in the opposite direction (like motors in disk drives).

Other audiophiles extract sounds from completely non-standard devices – payment terminals, irons, electric brushes. On the channel Device Orchestra household appliances have already performed “Rasputin“by Boney M and “believerby Imagine Dragons.

In general, everyone can make their own flopotron – there are guides and thematic projects on the network that simplify the process. One of them – Moppy [GitHub], which turns the Arduino board into a translator for transmitting commands to a cluster of drives. As a control device, you can connect almost any device from a MIDI keyboard to the most common fruits.

Music on diskettes

While disk drives are becoming a popular musical instrument, floppy disks are making a comeback as music. carriers. Back in the mid-nineties, many labels added floppy disks with various bonus content to their CD releases. For example, Sony Music Entertainment made to the works of Cyndi Lauper, Michael Jackson and the British rock band The The floppy disks with screensavers (for example, for Windows 3.1).

But in 2018 indie labels started producing music on diskettes. These are mainly vaporwave tracks that draw inspiration from the culture of the 80s. For example, the Miami Vice team released their album on floppy Culture Island. Another artist – Sponge Person also presented the work Eggo Jams on a yellow diskette – in the color of a square sponge from a famous animated film.

Photo: FPVmat A. Source: Unsplash.com
Photo: FPVmat A. Source: Unsplash.com

The unusual format also seeps into the realm of podcasting. A couple of years ago, Terence Eden, an expert on technology standards, recorded a thirty-minute episode of a humorous audio show on a floppy disk. To fit the recording on retro media, the enthusiast compressed the audio file using the codec Opus. Sound quality noticeably affectedbut in general, the speech of the speakers is quite legible.

It is unlikely that world stars will abruptly start releasing their tracks on floppy disks, and the drive is far from the popularity of vinyl and even audio cassettes. But they definitely find their niche among music lovers and simple geeks.


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