Your Raspberry Pi makes an excellent media center. He can go into orbit. You may even have used it to develop some music projects. musical projects in the past. After all, it’s the perfect size and the perfect connection for music streaming and speaker output.

But have you thought about using it to create new music?

After all, the device is a computer. It has GPIO and USB for adding original and custom hardware. Using Python (or another language) you can deal with audio output. Why don’t you try making music with your Raspberry Pi?

This credit card-sized computer never ceases to amaze us. Here are five musical instruments you can create using your Raspberry Pi.

1. Sonic Pi

No list of Raspberry Pi music projects would be complete without mentioning the Sonic Pi. It now comes with Raspbian Stretch, but you can easily install it on your Pi with:

sudo dpkg -i sonic-pi_1_3.0.1-armhf.deb sudo apt-get install -f 

The Sonic Pi has been so successful that it is also available for computers running Windows, macOS, and x86/x64 Linux.

There are several reasons for you to use Sonic Pi. Live coding is probably the most widely known application for allowing you to use Python to modify music while it is playing. This is a completely new phase for synthesized music that many people are accepting.

Is it Sonic Pi? Don’t worry: the device has a great beginner’s guide published by MagPi, which you can download from their website for free! Sonic Pi is the easiest way to turn your Raspberry Pi into a musical instrument: try it today! Check out for more information.

2. Theremin

Invented in 1920 by Russian scientist Lev Theremin, the Theremin is an amazing instrument. You may know its sound from various classic sci-fi movies, the Beach Boys’ Good Vibrations, or from the long-running series » Midsomer Murders» .

What is most remarkable about the Theremin electronic magic is that it is played without any physical contact. Here it is in action:

Several Theremin projects have been developed for the Raspberry Pi. Most notable is the ultrasonic term, which requires the Sonic Pi software (included with Raspbian Stretch, the latest official Raspberry Pi operating system) and python-osc. This Open Sound Controller protocol library allows computers, synthesizers, and other multimedia audio devices to communicate. As such, this is very important!

Meanwhile, this alternative Pi ingeniously uses a camera rather than an ultrasonic distance sensor for motion detection. It’s also a more ambitious synth:

3. Create a MIDI Synth

Several synthesizer projects are available for the Raspberry Pi. This requires Andrew Dotnich to plug in a USB/MIDI controller such as a Behringer U-CONTROL UMX-25 or Midiplus AKM320), establish a connection and install some software. Full instructions can be followed in Dotnich’s manual.

The final product might look something like this, a Mellotron emulator:

So you have a MIDI keyboard connected to your Raspberry Pi (presumably version 2 or 3). The audio is reportedly left untouched, playing directly from the Pi’s output, with some of the reverb of the synthesizer settings.

Don’t limit yourself to this video (downloader links to Andrew Dotnich’s project as a demo). Instead, use the tutorial and video as a starting point. Go ahead and create your own amazing synth!

4. Pi Guitar Effects Pedal

Not strictly an instrument, of course, but effects pedals are a vital part of electric guitar playing; Wise, of course. However, they can be expensive, so making your own makes sense.

So what role can the Raspberry Pi play in all of this?

The Pedal-Pi uses the Raspberry Pi Zero. like its brain, and it’s completely open source, software and hardware. See it in action above.

Effects can be coded into the pedal in C language, and various ready-made effects are available for download on the forum. Although there is no tutorial, there is a complete list of materials used to create such a pedal, as well as the code. If that seems like too much work, you can order the complete kit for less than $50.

5. JoyTone

Now here’s a curious machine. Based on the Raspberry Pi with multiple fingers arranged in a hexagonal pattern, JoyTone is capable of wowing orchestral choirs. It appears (although I haven’t tried it) to be perhaps the most natural hand-operated musical instrument ever made.

Designed by Dave Sharples and David Glanzman, JoyTone features a «hexagonal isomorphic layout». But what exactly does this mean? Well, it’s about their placement on a hexagonal grid and their identical physical size and shape.

“They also have the same musical relationship with each other — if you move to the right with one finger, it corresponds to a musical quarter growth, and this is true no matter where you start in the grid. This means that musical structures like a major chord or a minor scale always have the same shape, no matter what note you start on.”

The result is an instrument that is easy to play and expressive. Here’s JoyTone in action, courtesy of David Glanzman, a Sharples project teammate:

Unfortunately, the JoyTone info from Dave Sharples’ blog has been lost in time as the URL has expired. However, we were able to locate it through the Internet Archive and invite you to read it to learn more.

How musical is your Raspberry Pi?

As you can see, these five projects demonstrate the excellent use of the Raspberry Pi as a musical instrument or synthesizer. My personal favorite is the Theremin, although I suspect that if I tried to do this it would be a guitar effects pedal.

If you’re more into listening to music than making it, then why not check out our tutorial on building a Pi music server?

What is your favorite instrument? Which one are you planning to build? If you’re interested in recording the music you make, check out these Best USB Audio Interfaces for Musicians Best USB Audio Interfaces for Musicians Best USB Audio Interfaces for Musicians.

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