This is what polka music sounds like on an accordion of two Commodore 64 computers

This is what polka music sounds like on an accordion of two Commodore 64 computers

There are few pieces of computer history more iconic and, at one time, ubiquitous as the Commodore 64. Produced between 1982 and 1994, the C64 still holds the Guinness World Record for all-time bestselling desktop computer–but it’s probably pretty safe to say that of the roughly 12.5 million units sold, only two of them were subsequently programmed to become an adorable, 8-bit “accordion.”

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YouTube video

Readers, please behold the “Commodordion,” a ridiculous, adorable musical contraption built using two C64 keyboards, custom software and wiring, as well as a bellows painstakingly constructed from taped-together floppy disks. First unveiled in late October by Linus Akesson, a Swedish software engineer, YouTuber, and, as his video showcases, accomplished musician, the Commodordion looks predictably as difficult to play as the portmanteau is to pronounce. Akesson, however, makes the whole thing look relatively simple, demonstrating his wonderful setup through an extremely impressive rendition of Scott Joplin‘s “Maple Town Rag” from 1899.

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As Akesson explains in his 11-minute video, the Commodordion intentionally builds off of his previous projects, the Sixtyforgan and Qwertuoso, and employs a custom-made mixer circuit board combining audio signals from both C64 keyboard rigs. The device’s floppy disc bellows allows airflow to pass through a hole. This microphone then converts the noise into an audio envelope. The sound is then sent through an external speaker. The music software itself was also designed by Akesson using a Commodore Datasette emulator board.

Unfortunately, as Akesson and Ars Technica‘s writeup both note, C64 keyboards weren’t exactly designed to be held, much less typed upon vertically. The whole thing is very uncomfortable for the wrists, hands and arms of the player. “This rather undermines the potential for the Commodordion as a viable musical instrument,” Akesson writes on his website, making it unlikely we’ll ever participate in a Commodordian polka party.

Andrew Paul

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