Who Knew A 16-Knife Orchestra Could Sound So Good?

Music can come from just about anything, floppy drives included. All you need is a bit of effort and the electronic know-how to get… whatever you’re using to play in-sync. For artist Neil Mendoza, his instrument of choice was the humble kitchen knife. Well, 16 of them.

OK, make that 17, if you include the cleaver. The video above has Mendoza’s creation, suitably called “The Electric Knife Orchestra”, cranking out Stayin’ Alive by the Bee Gees. It’s actually hard to tell if the knives are playing anything melodic at all until the halfway mark, after the Jacob’s Ladder (the two vertical knives with the arc between them) gets going.

If you’re wondering how it was made, Filip Visnjic over at Creative Applications explains:

All of the instruments are controlled using one Arduino running firmware based on code available online … The music was arranged in Logic, output using a USB to MIDI cable and then read by the Arduino using the MIDI circuit.

There are two machines that create sound by stepping stepper motors at the same frequency as musical notes. The Jacob’s Ladder uses a relay to control a 12,000V neon sign transformer and the three other machines work using MOSFETs connected to solenoids and car door lock actuators.

The sterile, white-and-perspex environment adds an extra level of creepiness, though I don’t know how those knives could do you any harm… unless they started playing anything by Nickelback, in which your ears might be in trouble.

[Vimeo, via VentureBeat]