Who would ever have thought that old, outdated technology such as floppy disk drives would be given a new lease of life by amateur computer engineers and programmers turning them into instruments? Not me. But that is exactly what has happened over the last few years.
I won’t pretend that I would know how to do something like this myself. I’m a writer with a passion for technology but beyond the UI my knowledge is limited. Thankfully there are people who, when faced with a collection of old floppy disk drives, can put them to good use and/or for our entertainment.
What follows are the best music videos on the Web featuring songs played using floppy disk drives as instruments.
What Is Floppy?
This is What Is Floppy? or What Is Love? to give it its non-geeky title. Originally a song by Haddaway, the definitive version has to be the one performed by Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer, as featured previously. But this runs close. I do like the way the guy behind this video turns it into a performance, with a backdrop and microphone making his eight floppy disk drives appear to be on stage in front of a crowd.
Master Of Floppies
A song that not everyone will recognize here, with Master Of Puppets by Metallica becoming Master Of Floppies. This song is as hard as nails to play on electric guitar. Or even on Guitar Hero, which is the medium I have attempted to play it on. These four floppy disk drives cope admirably with the intricacies of playing death metal, though I suspect those of you who haven’t heard the original may think it’s just a lot of noise.
Flight Of The Floppy Drives
Everybody knows Flight Of the Bumblebee, but what about Flight Of The Floppy Drives? Another immensely difficult song to play in real life on a real instrument, these four floppy drives do a fine job of recreating the orchestral interlude by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. The audio quality isn’t very good, and I’m sure the video will be subjected to the usual, “Was this filmed with a potato?” comments. But I feel it more than earns its place on the list.
Floppy Mario Brothers
One of the most-memorable video game tunes of all time has to be the theme from Super Mario Bros. This isn’t that, obviously. Instead it’s the theme from Floppy Mario Bros. They’re the same characters except for the floppiness. This is the first song on the list being played by floppy drives in their natural state, complete with case. This means we get an added disco as the lights on the front of the floppy drives blink on and off.
Floppy Rock Anthem
Proving that any song can be performed by floppy drives, this is Party Rock Anthem by LMFAO, newly renamed as Floppy Rock Anthem. If you don’t recognize this song then I suspect you spent the whole of 2011 living under a rock. This song was everywhere, and it’s now even made it onto MakeUseOf thanks to the power of floppy disk drives. These five floppies are lined up like a boyband, except they have a much longer shelf-life than your average boyband.
James, James Floppy
Who needs James Bond when you have James Floppy? This is the theme song from James Bond played on eight floppy drives. In this video you really get a sense of the amount of both wiring and work that is required to make this happen. The song lends itself well to being played on floppy drives, being completely instrumental and having notes that actually sound exactly right in this format.
Floppy Nyan Cat
Nyan Cat is a phenomenon, a phenomenon on the wane perhaps, but a phenomenon nonetheless. In this video he gets the floppy drive treatment. This may just be the most-satisfying cover version of the Nyan Cat song I have ever heard. All we need now is for this to be recorded for 100 hours and uploaded to YouTube and we can really get the party started.
Phantom Of The Floppera
I’ve saved the best until last, or at least the best in my opinion. This is Phantom Of The Opera reimagined as Phantom Of The Floppera. The song is actually Toccata and Fugue in D Minor by Johann Sebastian Bach, well known from featuring in The Phantom Of The Opera, hence the title. The video is nicely done, giving a sense of menace that mimics the original score. This was created by George Whiteside, who is one of two purveyors of floppy drive music I link to in the next paragraph.
If you love these videos and, unlike myself, aren’t content with just watching other people’s creations, there are a couple of ways to get started in creating them for yourself. Both the aforementioned George Whiteside and Michael Kohn have detailed their attempts to make music from floppy disk drives, and I suggest you start there if you want to do the same.
Or, like myself, you could take one look at the work required to make this happen, get all confused, and then head back to YouTube to find more examples. If you find any please let me know in the comments section below. Any other comments are welcome as well. Even the nasty ones.
Image Credit: Blude