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Hardware Hacking Media Music Idle

Bohemian Rhapsody On Old Hardware 137

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the too-much-spare-time dept.
eldavojohn writes "The sweet sweet melodies of Queen and the late Freddie Mercury are reproduced by hardware almost as old as the song is. 'There are millions of computers sitting idle at home consuming fantom electricity. Let's see where all that power is going. This is dedicated to all fans of Queen and hey let's not forget about Mike Myers and Dana Carvey of Wayne's World. Please note no effects or sampling was used. What you see is what you hear (does that even make sense?) Atari 800XL was used for the lead piano/organ sound, Texas Instruments TI-99/4a as lead guitar, 8 Inch Floppy Disk as Bass, 3.5 inch Hard drive as the gong, HP ScanJet 3C was used for all vocals. Please note I had to record the HP scanner 4 separate times for each voice. I tried to buy 4 HP scanners but for some reason sellers on E-Bay expect you to pay $80-$100, I got mine for $30.'"
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Bohemian Rhapsody On Old Hardware

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  • Big whoop (Score:5, Funny)

    by DrMrLordX (559371) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @12:30AM (#27656529)
    Nothing really matters anymore.
    • Well duh! (Score:5, Funny)

      by dr_wheel (671305) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @12:39AM (#27656573)
      Anyone can see that. Carry on.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Alarindris (1253418)
      Either does timing, the parts aren't synced up properly.
      It appears that he split the midi tracks up between the instruments, but didn't align them up properly afterwards.

      Pretty impressive, but sort of poorly executed.

      I'm sorry, but the misalignment is bad enough that I couldn't make out the song for the first 30 seconds D:
  • Chiptunes... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by edlinfan (1131341) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @12:30AM (#27656533)

    ...hell yeah!

    If you liked this, you might also check out the 8bitpeoples, who specialize in this sort of thing.
    http://www.8bitpeoples.com/ [8bitpeoples.com]

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      warning: link looks like a myspace page!

      *feels dirty after seeing that*

    • I enjoy the remix groups like the one you linked, but there's simply nothing as good as the original hardware. Ahhhh nostalgia. ;-) Unfortunately I cannot provide a direct link so you'll have to do a little bit of navigation to Internet Explorer (does not work on firefox) and click here: http://www.lemon64.com/music [lemon64.com]

      Then:
      - Click VARIOUS
      - Click M-R
      - Click Merman
      - Click Bohemian Rhapsody

      This version of Bohemian Rhapsody is "okay" but I've heard far better music than this coming from the Commodore=64, like

      • by Pikoro (844299)
        Wholly fucking christ! heaven forbid you have a JVM open anywhere. That sounds like someone running that previous scanner sound through a carton of dry laundry soap.

        Close everything if you open that URL!
        Sounds fine after closing all Java instances.
        • I didn't have any problems.

          Is the JSIDplayer not compatible with other java programs, due to high CPU usage? Hmmm. I see it is using 11% of my CPU; maybe I better close it before I go to lunch.

  • Takedown? (Score:5, Funny)

    by telchine (719345) * on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @12:31AM (#27656539)

    How long before the RIAA have this removed from YouTube for copyright infringement?

    • Re:Takedown? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mrchaotica (681592) * on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @12:36AM (#27656565)

      Never -- the RIAA doesn't control the copyright of the melody itself, only recordings of it made by RIAA-affiliated performers. You should be worried about BMI [wikipedia.org] instead, I think.

      • I would think that since it's not an exact replica (ie the timing is different and those are not notes) probably can't get em.
        • Re:Takedown? (Score:4, Informative)

          by Phroggy (441) <slashdot3NO@SPAMphroggy.com> on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @01:02AM (#27656665) Homepage

          You'd be wrong. The composition is under copyright, regardless of what bizarre contraptions you choose to perform it on.

          Nothing to do with the RIAA, though.

          • by pmarini (989354)
            hold-on, so if I copyright my fart "noise", can I stop anyone else from farting the same peculiar notes?
            how long is a composition?
            • by boltik (683813)

              hold-on, so if I copyright my fart "noise", can I stop anyone else from farting the same peculiar notes? how long is a composition?

              No one can't stop nobody from farting.
              But if you can afford 500k$+ copyright lawyer, you can extort somebody who farted.
              If you have millions - you can even jail them in some countries (USA,iran,russia. In sweden they will appeal).

            • My guess is that it'd just nix public performances; private poots would still be allowed... The only mainstream artist I know that uses flatulence is "Weird Al", you might want to check to see if your rump-riff is already copyrighted.

              • by Phroggy (441)

                The only mainstream artist I know that uses flatulence is "Weird Al", you might want to check to see if your rump-riff is already copyrighted.

                The noises you're thinking of (prominent in several of Al's older songs such as "Another One Rides The Bus" and "I Love Rocky Road") aren't really flatulence; they're hand noises created by "Musical Mike" Kieffer. He can be seen in the video for Headline News [youtube.com]; the hand noises start at 2:39 and Musical Mike can be seen making them at 2:48 and 3:04.

                Yes, I am white & nerdy, how did you know?

          • by adolf (21054)

            One word: Parody [wikipedia.org].

            • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

              by newcastlejon (1483695)

              One word: Parody [wikipedia.org].

              A better word: Cover. [wikipedia.org]

          • by Bootarn (970788)
            If this video is removed due to copyright reasons, I'll then officially have lost all hope in mankind.
          • by mike2R (721965)
            Wouldn't it count as a cover version? If so, then if this was being sold on CD then he would need to buy a mechanical licence [harryfox.com] (about 10 cents a copy I believe). Not sure how that applies to a non-commercial digital distribution though.
          • Nothing to do with the RIAA, though.

            Slashdot users often use the term "RIAA" metonymically [wikipedia.org] for its members, just as "the White House" is used for the U.S. executive branch. And many RIAA members, such as the big four record labels, also happen to be members of the National Music Publishers' Association.

        • Ah, that's a good point -- I guess you answered my question [slashdot.org].

          Of course, even if the MIDI file was bad on purpose, it was still recognizable as Bohemian Rhapsody. I don't think it was changed enough to avoid being declared infringement if BMI decided to go after it.

          • by pmarini (989354)
            hey guys, reality check !
            he didn't change the song title, he didn't attribute the song to himself...
            what he could be forced to do is simply pay the royalty for a reproduction, much like bands do in your local pub/underground station... geez, get a life
          • by pbhj (607776)

            Of course, even if the MIDI file was bad on purpose, it was still recognizable as Bohemian Rhapsody. I don't think it was changed enough to avoid being declared infringement if BMI decided to go after it.

            It doesn't matter how terrible a rendition it was. If it sounds nothing like it then it can still infringe. It's called copyright infringement for a reason ... you infringe the persons legal right to a monopoly if you copy from them. That includes creating a derivative work _iff_ you copy from them. If your work was created independently (and you're going to need some evidence here I'm afraid) without copying then there is no infringement.

            • If your work was created independently (and you're going to need some evidence here I'm afraid) without copying then there is no infringement.

              Say I write my own song, but I'm not trying to copy anything. What precautions should I take before I publish to avoid being sued for accidental infringement like George Harrison was?

              • The ratio of your precautions to George Harrison's should be the same as the ratio between your fame and his.

              • by pbhj (607776)

                If your work was created independently (and you're going to need some evidence here I'm afraid) without copying then there is no infringement.

                Say I write my own song, but I'm not trying to copy anything. What precautions should I take before I publish to avoid being sued for accidental infringement like George Harrison was?

                There is no try there is only do .. or something.

                Either you copy someone (perhaps subconsciously) or you don't. The chances of creating a piece of music independently appear to be quite slim and so the court will probably have a high level of presumed guilt towards you. If you had manuscripts showing developments and adaptations of your own original song that might help.

                However, in the US I think a work that closely resembles a registered work may infringe automatically without and consideration of balance

      • Re:Takedown? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Dutchmaan (442553) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @01:34AM (#27656763) Homepage
        No one will care... until it makes money, THEN someone will speak up.. guaranteed.
      • For a moment there I thought you were calling the grandparent fat [wikipedia.org]...
      • Re:Takedown? (Score:5, Informative)

        by commodore64_love (1445365) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @07:07AM (#27658255) Journal

        >>>RIAA doesn't control the copyright of the melody itself, only recordings of it made by RIAA-affiliated performers. You should be worried about BMI instead, I think.

        It doesn't matter.
        - If they yank my video I will upload it again.
        - If they ban my account, I will create a new one.
        - If they ban my IP, I will just roll-over to a new IP.
        - If they sue me in court, I won't even bother to show up.
        - If they win the case for 2 million dollars per current law, I will not pay. Instead I'll be picking-up the phone and calling CNN, FOX, NBC. I'll be blogging the internet and visiting radio talk shows in order to stir-up outrage among the American people, because 2 million dollars for a single song is cruel and unusual punishment. Unconstitutional law is invalid law. The resulting protests will scare the ____ out of the leaders and change will happen.

        C'mon people. Where's your hacker spirit? Fight the man.

        More likely it won't escalate that far, so no worries. The video will continue to be spread across the net either by youtube or bittorrent, and Liberty will win by default.

        • because 2 million dollars for a single song is cruel and unusual punishment.

          While I agree that it is ridiculous, your argument is factually incorrect. The eighth amendment deals specifically with criminal punishment. Copyright infringment and the associated penalties are civil matters
          • Yes but...

            The original $2 million per song punishment was mandated by Congressional law (or so I've been told), and congressional law is limited by the Constitution, so the law would be invalidated by the "cruel and unusual punishment" clause. When you stop and think about it, a multi-million dollar punishment levied against a single citizen is the equivalent to a life sentence, because that's how long you would have to work to pay it off. Issuing a life sentence because you used someone's copyrighted so

        • by MadCow42 (243108)

          What the copyright holders often fail to consider is the beneficial aspects of stuff like this:

          How many Slashdotters, after seeing this video, have gone out and bought the iTunes version of this song? I guarantee there's someone out there!

          Kevin.

      • by Jurily (900488)

        Never -- the RIAA doesn't control the copyright of the melody itself, only recordings of it made by RIAA-affiliated performers.

        You mean how Disney doesn't control Mickey Mouse?

        • No, I mean like how Disney doesn't control Speedy Gonzales [because Warner Brothers* does instead].

          (*For the purpose of this post, assume that Warner Bothers is equally obnoxious as Disney even though it isn't in reality.)

    • But there is a subtly here: this *is* how the RIAA produces its music nowadays. Case in point Sulja Boy et al. Computer programs checking other computer programs..I guess we are one step closer to artificial intelligence...sort of.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by PipingSnail (1112161)

      No ocpyright infringement. This is an original recording of a unique arrangement. Copyright exists in this new recording.

      In the UK, the PRS (Performing Rights Society) will what a fee for the performance of this work because it is a derivative arrangement of an existing protected work. In turn the PRS will protect this arrangement and collect fees for that as well, should they accept a request to protect it.

      Just to repeat though - Nothing to do with copyright.

      The PRS perform useful and harmful work al

  • The reproduction sounds too -- excuse me -- mechanical. I wonder, was it due to limitations in the timing granularity of the devices used, or just a bad MIDI file?

    • by Dreadneck (982170)

      Of course it sounded mechanical. All of the notes were being made by various hardware. I doubt anyone could coax human-like musical performance out of the hardware that was used, but the performance kicked ass given the choice of 'instruments' imho.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mrchaotica (681592) *

        I don't think it was necessarily a limitation of the instruments; the problem was -- as I said before -- timing, not timbre. It was inadequate in the same way that a perfectly normal instrument played by a robot would be. I think it was simply that the person who made the (presumably) MIDI file used to drive the thing just did a poor job of it, and that it would have sounded just as wrong if it had been played back using the sound card's synthesizer.

        Some of the pitches weren't quite right either, but that r

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Phroggy (441)

          Exactly. I thought it seemed pretty well in tune; it was the timing that was off.

          If the creator is reading Slashdot: perhaps you could make some of your source material public, so we can see how you programmed each device to play its notes? Perhaps we could help work out some of the rhythmic details.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Phroggy (441)

      The timing is definitely off, and with the timing of each "instrument" a little off, they're not in sync with each other. It's close enough that you can tell what it should sound like, but it doesn't actually sound like that.

      For example, the rhythm of "easy come, easy go" starting at 0:36 is clearly wrong. The bass part starting around 1:30 isn't bad by itself, but it's not in sync with the other parts. 3:09 to 3:31 is pretty bad too.

      I suspect it was easier to get the timing right with some "instruments"

      • by zmollusc (763634) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @03:28AM (#27657221)

        I concur re the timing. I suggest replacement of the old hardware with some modern synthesisers and drum machines so that they all stay in time with a master clock. Maybe even get some humans to sing parts of it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by pz (113803)

        The timing is definitely off, and with the timing of each "instrument" a little off, they're not in sync with each other. It's close enough that you can tell what it should sound like, but it doesn't actually sound like that.

        For example, the rhythm of "easy come, easy go" starting at 0:36 is clearly wrong. The bass part starting around 1:30 isn't bad by itself, but it's not in sync with the other parts. 3:09 to 3:31 is pretty bad too.

        I suspect it was easier to get the timing right with some "instruments" than others. The bass part, by itself, seems very rhythmically solid, particularly from 3:29 all the way through to the end, it's just that the other parts aren't in sync with that.

        Overall, a brilliant piece of work. If these minor timing details could be cleaned up, it would be awesome.

        The OP neglected to take into account (or neglected to do a good enough job taking into account) the latency for each command to each instrument. This is especially evident with the scanner: it has a long startup time, but, once running, does well. When it first starts up after a period of silence, it's horribly late, but if it is just changing pitch, it's snappy. The same is true, but to a lesser extent, with the floppy drive -- but it also is producing a louder tone for the initial few hundreds of mill

  • by spankyofoz (445751) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @12:32AM (#27656551)

    ...about the HP Scanjet 3C?

    (not that there's anything wrong with that)

  • by omar.sahal (687649) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @12:35AM (#27656563) Homepage Journal
    This is mad, but something makes me respect the artistry that you have done this with.
  • one thing......... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by omar.sahal (687649) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @12:40AM (#27656579) Homepage Journal
    Some marketing weenie is going to take this idea and use it in some television advertisement.
  • That was very cool - like a cross between Queen and Futurama.

    Allah your bass are belong to us.
  • by danielsan05 (1537423) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @12:44AM (#27656597)
    Or at least one of their fans did: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vOswq2P-pAs [youtube.com]
  • What? Mercury? .... made in china?
  • That was an awesome job he/she did.
  • Yet another way that computers have enhanced our lives =]
  • When I saw this video, the first thing that popped into my mind was Get a life! [photobucket.com]

  • I wish there were another instrument. Some parts feel a little too sparse without one more voice.

    • I think it would be cool to dub in the vocals. Maybe run them through a vocoder first or someting.

  • Incidentally, I just discovered that Alan Turing was gay while reading up for class.

    Seems like there's potential for some sort of a Turing-Queen tribute concert.

    Though perhaps this suffices.

  • Freaking awesome. This made my day. Can't say enough good things. :)
  • by ffflala (793437) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @01:38AM (#27656777)

    No Synthesizers!

  • by Swampash (1131503) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @03:12AM (#27657167)

    The sweet sweet melodies of Queen and the late Freddie Mercury are reproduced by hardware almost as old as the song is.

    This statement holds true only if you use a very broad definition of "sweet".

    And "melody".

    And "reproduced".

    There were large segments where, if I didn't know in advance that it was supposedly "Bohemian Rhapsody", I would have had no idea wtf I was listening to.

    • by Nutria (679911)

      This statement holds true only if you use a very broad definition of "sweet".

      And "almost as old": BR came out in 1975, and the 800XL much later, in 1983.

      Or does that 8 year difference only matter to people born before 1965?

    • It's not how well the bear dances, it's that the bear dances at all.
  • Looks like somebody left those computers in the car for more than a fortnight [wikipedia.org].

  • That was fantastic.

    BUT, should someone with that much technical ability, creativity, and imagination, really be allowed to idle so much as to DO that? He should be curing cancer, or making space travel reasonable, or building giant robots to help me take over the planet! Don't you think?

  • "fantom" electricity ? Is this a delicious pun, or terrible spelling ?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by phozz bare (720522)

      Oddly enough, TFA (the YouTube info from which this text was copied) spells it correctly!

  • wow (Score:3, Funny)

    by scharkalvin (72228) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @07:01AM (#27658195) Homepage

    Brings back memories of a road trip from NYC to Dayton OH to go to the hamfest.
    Must have heard that song a gazillon times on the radio. Also Layla.
    Maybe he can do Layla next.

  • Reminds me of a project I ran into a long time ago - glad to see it still up - http://www.theuser.org/dotmatrix/en/intro.html [theuser.org]
  • This sounds like 4th grade chilren playing music together: no one is on the same beat, and nobody follows the rythm. Technically, everybody follows the melody, but what a mess!

    Cool use of the scanner and the disk drive, tho!

  • ...and show off your true geekdom
  • ROYGBIV by Boards of Canada [youtube.com] done a capella.

    Two guys singing, whistling, and otherwise imitating drum machines and synths. And a perky girl who pops up saying "LATE!"

    Sweet and kind work by nice people.

    RS

  • I knew that there was a reason (besides that fact that it scans legal size and few other so) that I kept that HP ScanJet 3C.
  • I remember The Stars and Strips Forever played on a Control Data Corporation 3500 mainframe that used both a built-in speaker (controlled by the lower bits in a register) in the console, and 4 high-speed half-inch tape drives with three-foot tall vacuum columns for the bass section.

    And then there was radio static music on an IBM 1130 mini from a program written in Fortran IV. The bulk of the program, after reading in the data cards with the notes of the song to play, consisted of a DO loop containing ab

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