Music can be divided into many genres, but one thing they all have in common is the ability to speak to our hearts and minds. From making us feel happy, to making us dance, to soothing our pain and suffering in difficult times, listening to music is universally accepted as a human phenomenon that is just plain old good for the soul. But one thing that’s even more fun than listening to music is creating music, and it’s even better when you make the instruments yourself. Here are a few DIY projects that you can use to build musical instruments with Arduinos, Raspberry Pis and other every day things you can find at home.
DIY MIDI Controller
A MIDI controller is a device that lets you control a whole set of virtual instruments with a few simple buttons. Basically, this device can turn you into a self-made DJ. To get a sense for what a prosumer model looks like for comparison, the Samson Conspiracy MIDI device seen in the video below will set you back about $200 bucks:
BUT but being a DIYer, we know you know that you don’t have to spend that amount of money. What fun is that?! Instead, you can try an easy-to-make Adafruit project that shows you how to build a MIDI controller for much less, using an Arduino Leonardo, an Adafruit Trellis Monochrome Driver, and a Silicone Elastomer 4×4 button keypad. With some basic soldering skills and access to a 3D printer, you’ll be able to build this cool looking mini MIDI controller in no time. Cleverly, it’s been dubbed the UNTZtrument, see it in action in the video below:
DIY FYI: If you’re a fan of Retro designs, this Arcade style DIY MIDI controller will be more suitable for you. And follow this DIY MIDI synthesizer project to take your MIDI controller to the next level. This synthesizer also works as a MIDI/ADPCM/WAV audio decoder and ADPCM encoder with the ability to work with three simultaneous audio streams.
DIY Drum Glove
One of our favorite maker startups is Drum Pants, their products literally turn your body into a walking instrument, if not a small electronica band. If you’re curious to try and build a similar set up a la DIY, check out this drumming MIDI glove that makes music every time you tap your fingers.
Put together by Becky Stern of Adafruit, this project turns an ordinary glove into a MIDI drum kit by attaching four piezos and using a Flora board to transmit signals to make sweet music. To build the project, you’ll need a Flora main board, four small piezos, a USB miniB cable, four 1M ohm resistors, ribbon wire, and, of course, a glove. Get started with the instructions provided here.
SEE ALSO: Becky’s project uses a Flora board, but you can also use an Arduino microcontroller to get the job done. You can learn how to do that from this Instructables project.
DIY Arduino Drums
Instructables user anouskadg has always dreamed about getting her own drum set. Sadly, her parents never allowed a drum set in the house because of the limited space and the noise. Now, many years later, she’s figured out a way to build her own little drum set at home.
“her parents never allowed a drum set in the house because of the limited space and the noise. Now, many years later, she’s figured out a way to build her own little drum set at home.“
Much like the previous two projects, these drums also use MIDI technology to bring out the drum sounds. It was built with an Arduino Uno, four Piezos, and four 1M Ohm resistors. The drum pads were cleverly made using CDs covered with mouse pads. Head over to the Instructables page for step-by-step instructions.
Now that you know how to build the drum pads, it’s up to you to turn this Arduino project into a full-scale drum set. Go find some wood, nails and get started building.
More Great Projects
Here are a few more awesome projects to try out:
ELECTRONIC DRUM KIT
The Arduino drum set was cool, but the sounds it made are not as great as the sounds of a real drum set. This project is for those of you who are serious about making music. By the time you’re done with the project, you’ll have your own full-scale electronic drum kit, for less than $150, that makes “real” drumming sounds.
DIY STEP SEQUENCER
Auduino Step Sequencer is a DIY project that shows you how to build an improved version of a grain synthesizer. The system will let you program 8 different sounds to play in a loop. It’s more like a low-tech version of the MIDI controller, but the detailed project offers more details for understanding how it works, which makes it ideal for beginners.
DIY GUITAR PEDAL
For guitar enthusiasts, here’s a project that’ll teach you how to build your own digital multi-effect guitar pedal with a built-in preamp using an Arduino Uno and a bunch of resistors. The pedal also features a mixer stage that lets you combine the clean signal with the effects signal.
Also, if you’re interested in adding some guitar effects, follow this project by Instructables user Gigin to build a guitar effects system using a Raspberry Pi to convert the guitar output signals into cool sound effects. And don’t forget to add an Arduino tuner to your guitar as well.
Musical MIDI Shoes is a fun project that allow you to make music by tapping your feet. It’s quite similar to the MIDI glove project, but adds the fun of creating music while you’re dancing. The system uses an Arduino microcontroller with force sensitive resistors attached to the shoes to make the music.
A music studio wouldn’t be complete without an amplifier. This Adafruit project will guide you through building your own 20W stereo amplifier to blast some music to surround the neighborhood.
Done with all the projects? Then here’s an idea – figure out a way to combine one or two of these projects into one and create your own unique musical instruments. After all, music is all about experimenting. Remember to come back and let us know if you create something new so we can share with the community.