Here’s a stunning orchestral arrangement played by HDDs, floppy drives and scanners

PC music has come to mean a lot these days, from the soundtracks to some of the biggest games (Doom, for example) to the label celebrated for its high-energy hyperpop sound (see: music for pc (opens in new tab)). But what about music made only with PC parts? Show some love to Paweł Zadrożniak, who recently unveiled the third generation of his orchestra of scanners, floppy disks and hard drives.

Dubbed The Floppotron 3.0, this collection of vintage PC parts produces the sweetest sounds in the right hands. Check out the video above for Zadrożniak’s version of Entrance of the Gladiators, a song that sounds perfectly suited when played by a rabble of old-school gizmos.

There are 512 floppy drives, 4 scanners and 16 hard drives in the orchestra, connected to a mainframe of PSUs that draw an average of 300W from the wall, but can peak at 1,200W. There. However, a small price to pay for making such sweet and sweet music.

If you look at the back of the floppy disk wall, it’s really impressive how everything is set up. That’s certainly worth a small fortune in cables.

Of course, Floppotron 3.0 took a long time to build. If you’re wondering how it all works, Zadrożniak offers an extensive explanation on their blog (opens in new tab)which goes into detail on a handful of projects since 2011.

“Any mechanical device with an electric motor or any other moving part produces noise as a side effect. Sometimes this noise can be controlled and turned into music – which usually involves some level of abuse. All devices present in the ‘orchestra’ contain motors. or moving heads (in the case of hard drives), which are driven by custom electronic circuits – controllers. These controllers are connected in a network and can be commanded by the computer to make a specific device (e.g. scanner #2) emit a specific sound (e.g. constant 440Hz pitch that corresponds to the note A4 in the song) at a specific point in time.”

This is just the simplified introduction and, as Zadrożniak notes, “it gets complicated on a larger scale”.

But it makes for a good read. There’s a lot of technical computing knowledge mixed with musical understanding to make this whole system work in harmony.

There’s a good chance you’ve seen Zadrożniak’s stuff before. This isn’t his first foray into making music with PC hardware. In 2011, after the summer break, they programmed a floppy drive to play Mozart. So they programmed two units to play the Star Wars Imperial March.

This is a video I remember from when I was a teenager, and you can too as it has over 6 million views today.

There are also versions of Creedence Clearwater Revival, Doom, Bohemian Rhapsody, and more on older Floppotron setups on Zadrożniak. YouTube page (opens in new tab).

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