For nerds of a certain age, there’s something distinctly soothing about the sound of a floppy drive spinning into motion. In the days before CDs, the low bass rumbles and high-pitched whirrs were as comforting as the sound of a dialing modem—they were the sounds of things getting done, of programs preparing to run.
Despite the obsolescence of the hardware, some YouTubers just can’t seem to let their floppies go. Instead, they convert the old drives into makeshift musical instruments, wiring multiple devices together and programming them to spin at frequencies that produce musical notes. From there, they can input MIDI files into the controller and produce some amazingly faithful interpretations of popular songs.
The trend was brought to our attention by this video, recently posted by YouTube user Arganalth, of “Misirlou,” best known as the surf rock opening theme from Pulp Fiction.
From there, we found a whole community of users blasting out popular tunes on kits made from ancient hardware, from Gigawipf’s version of the Soft Cell classic “Tainted Love,” to the inevitable cover of the Game Of Thrones theme by MrSolidSnake745.
“Why do it?” you might wonder. Why spend all of this time and energy assembling these anachronistic orchestras to play copies of other people’s music? A cynic would call it an uncreative person’s attempts at creativity. But there’s a real charm to the best of these videos that belies that thought. Part of it is simple nostalgia, but there’s also the appeal that MIDI music has always had—the way that breaking a song down into its most simple elements can bring out the basic strength of its melody.
You can find more videos by searching for “floppy drive music” on YouTube. And, if you’re so inclined, you can find a tutorial on how to make your own kit right here.