In the video below you will be able to see Toto’s “Africa” being played not by an antiquated computer equipment. The musical instrument called the Floppotron is comprised of 64 floppy disc drives, eight hard disks and two optical scanners.
The machines play the 1982 hit with mechanical precision (and a surprising amount of warmth). A rather mesmerizing YouTube video shows the equipment clicking and clacking away, working to produce humming tones that resemble tougher-edged MIDI sounds.
Check it out:
According to CNET, the instrument is the creation of Paweł Zadrożniak, and its unique sounds are derived from “motors running at different speeds.” On his website, Zadrożniak elaborates on how it works:
“Every device with an electric motor is able to generate a sound. Scanners and floppy drives use stepper motors to move the head with sensors which scans the image or performs read/write operations on a magnetic disk. The sound generated by a motor depends on driving speed. The higher the frequency, the greater the pitch.
Hard disks use a magnet and a coil to tilt the head. When voltage is supplied for long enough, the head speeds up and hits the bound making the ‘drum hit’ sound. The disk head coil can also be used as a speaker to play tones or even music, but… that would be too easy and too obvious.”
“Africa” is just the tip of the iceberg on his YouTube channel. There are Floppotron versions of Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger,” Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama,” Electric Light Orchestra’s “Mr. Blue Sky,” Starship’s “We Build This City” and Yes’ “Owner of a Lonely Heart.” And, in a possible nod to the unexpected death of Dolores O’Riordan, the Floppotron’s newest composition is the Cranberries’ “Zombie.” You can check out some of them below.