Zackary Scholl, Ph.D. is a biophysicist, artist and music hacker. His latest project is hacking a cassette player to make a musical instrument – sort of a monophonic Mellotron.
“Recently, I finished converting an old walkman-style cassette player into a MIDI-controlled synthesizer using an Arduino and a little code – dubbed the cassette synthesizer.
The cassette synthesizer works by playing a pre-recorded drone (a single tone) from tape and then modulating the speed of the playback to pitch up the tone to any pitch you want. I got this idea for the cassette synthesizer from Onde Magnétique who got the idea from the Mellotron.”
While the ‘Cassette Synthesizer’ is monophonic, it lets you turn any drone into a instrument. You record a continuous drone onto a cassette tape, and then the ‘Cassette Synthesizer’ lets you play it melodically.