Accordion Hero

Last weekend, I spent some time making a prototype Accordion Hero that uses live input from a microphone, does Fourier analysis to determine the keys, and uses this to control the video game. The beauty of this is that you can use your own instrument and try to learn while playing a game.

The version is just a prototype. While debugging the audio input, I used Audacity (which has a beautiful set of frequency analysis tools). These were helpful in determining if it was possible. I ended up using the tools for the spectral analysis from Audacity (they have an internal FFT that is pretty lightweight and saves linking to some other external library, e.g., fftw3). Also, the portaudio library is great for getting audio input across several platforms. I used it without a hitch for linux, mac, and cross-compiled windows. I’m a fan!

Common issues include a bit of lag, and some noticeable bugs where it says you played a note before you played it (this is actually a minor issue that is easy to resolve).

I spent some of today building the windows version:
the windows version has some problems (namely, it crashes on exit). Use the .bat script to run. It may be missing mingw.dll (should be easy to find on the web).

And a mac version:
I am not sure I have packaged all of the dependencies. Again, run with the .sh file. You may have to use dylib-bundler (or the other mac tool to rename the libraries reference by the binary).

I didn’t spend much time tweaking for different systems. You will have to make sure that the audio level on your input is high enough. Use the ‘f’ key in the program to bring up the frequency spectrum. This should have a horizontal bar across it. This is the threshold, below which everything is ignored. Use the .bat/.sh script to adjust this file (the vertical scale is roughly -90 to 0, the default threshold is -65 DB).

I have only tested this with the Accordion, but it should work with other instruments. Use the ‘f’ key to find the frequencies of your instrument. Edit the notes.txt file (which serves as calibration).

Here are some screenshots of the very lame gameplay:

Project Media

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