This system allows for Nintendo gameplay audio to be played through an acoustic player piano and robotically controlled percussive instruments. The piano and percussion play live during actual gameplay, mirroring the sounds that would normally be created electronically. All audio, including music and sound effects, is translated in realtime so that it is produced by the instrument most closely resembling the characteristics of the original electronic sound.
0:00 – Mario
0:53 – Mario 2
2:59 – Mario 3
4:06 – Zelda
6:02 – Mario 2 (End Theme)
For those interested in the technical details, both the piano and the percussion use solenoids to drive their player mechanisms. The piano uses Yamaha’s Disklavier system to strike keys, and the percussion uses a custom solution to strike the drum sticks. Both the piano and percussion are each controlled by Raspberry Pis which have custom software to control each instrument. The software is responsible for translating the gameplay audio to instructions which ultimately define which solenoid should be actuated. In full disclosure, there is normally a half-second audio delay that was removed in editing, but it’s still very playable live. The piano is controlled through the Disklavier’s MIDI interface, while the percussion’s solenoids are directly controlled through the Pi’s GPIO interface.
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