WalkSX from Gijs on Vimeo.

As the Sony Walkman turns 30, many of the mobile cassette’s fans wax nostalgic. But it takes Gijs Gieskes to wire up a new Rube Goldberg-style musical instrument based on the Walkman’s simple tape playback.

Follow along carefully through the signal flow of this unusual instrument:

1. The Walkman has audio on the tape itself, sampled from a Roland TR-808 drum machine.

2. Because a compact cassette has two tracks (left and right, for stereo), one track is dedicated to the drums, another to the rim shot.

3. The rim shot track is fed as a mono audio input to an Arduino (the open-source microcontroller platform). The Arduino responds to the audio level, so each time a rim shot hit occurs, it ….

4. …sends a sequence event to the Gakken SX-150. That means that you can adjust the speed of the whole contraption by…

5. …adjusting the speed of the tape. (Bless you, analog playback!)

It takes Gijs to think that way somehow: put together, these elements are actually fairly simple, but strikingly effective. Fortunately, if this does inspire new ideas, Gijs has posted all his Arduino code, so you can check this out and try something yourself.