The phone can be used as a MIDI controller and vocal synthesizer to breathe new life into old technology.
James “poprhythm” Kolpack has repurposed an old phone and, through the use of an Arduino Diecimila device, turned it into a MIDI controller and vocoder to play Daft Punk’s classic, “Around The World.”
“This project takes a vintage touch phone and converts it into a musical instrument, or more specifically, a MIDI controller using the push-buttons to generate the signals for musical notes,” Kolpack writes.
Once the phone was taken apart, Kolpack began mapping the myriad of buttons and wires. He said there were a total of 11 wires that could be combined for 55 unique combinations.
He then assigned frequencies to the dual-tone multi-frequency signaling keypad based on its rows. These uniquely assigned frequencies generate distinct tones for each of the buttons on the phone.
Once the buttons and wires were all mapped, Kolpack entered his Arduino and programmed the device to play a pentatonic scale and a major seventh semitone, with a root note of C.
He then hooked up the phone’s microphone so that it could be used as a vocoder, a hallmark of the Daft Punk sound. The phone was wired so that the microphone would only activate when the handset was lifted off of the receiver.
“Since this device has both note and vocal inputs, it’s possible to use the audio signal as the frequency modulator to a software vocoder,” he writes.
Check out Kolpack’s “Touch Tone MIDI Phone” project below and read more here.