Welcome to this music box programming tutorial. This is a 30-note music box set, and this is a 20-note music box set. And when you program longer songs on these music boxes, like this one, It is quite daunting sometimes. And I’ve been doing this for a lot of years now and developed some tricks that makes it less daunting and drives you less crazy. So in this video, I want to share my best tricks on how to program these music boxes with you! Normally they come in C major, the 20-note music boxes, but I have retuned my music boxes to different keys by adding some soldering on some notes. To join these two pieces, you will need tape, a ruler and a knife. (rip) So we start with securing one piece to the table. And on this second piece we’re going to cut a little curve, so we see all the lines, (whoosh) like that! So now we can pair this grid with this grid. That looks good! Put an extra tape straight over the seam like this! (rip) And here’s the magic. So now you take the ruler and you make a diagonal cut through both pieces at the same time. (cutting) (rip) (more cutting) Clean the surfaces of the joint. Good quality thin masking tape. (cutting) (peeling tape off) And there’s your perfect joint! When I started making these music box programming, I made the joint straight over the paper. And look at them now. When you do it right, the joint should disappear. (paper flipping) The next step is to record your song in MIDI. That will make everything so much easier at the later stage. (Metronome plays at around 110 bpm in 3/4) (Music starts) (Music ends) (spacebar) So before starting programming I always give myself some help by putting in these reference marks. So this song is in waltz tempo, 3/4 one, two, three, one, two, three and the dotted line will be the division and by adding these reference marks it will be much easier later when we start to punch the actual holes, to not get lost but we can make it even more clear by putting in the chords from the song (spacebar) so D minor starts (Music) do, do-do (spacebar) D minor Remember this part that we cut off in the beginning? So cut off a little piece like this and drag it with you when you draw your notes and then you have easy reference on the vertical lines. I always use the MIDI grid and I have it right in front of me here so I can see in the MIDI grid what notes are coming and I can playback and it helps a lot from to remember your arrangement. So, first bar do-do-do-do-do-do D minor (writes notes) Like that! (time lapse) And at this point it can actually be smart to try to cut these holes to try the tempo on the music box to see if you’ve been thinking correctly with the resolution of the timing, and that you’re heading in the right direction. Instead of making the whole song and then realize that you can’t crank fast enough or it’s way too fast or something. (Music Box hits the table) (pudoh) (wrrrp) (Music box plays) So now there’s no contact microphone recording the sound from the music box, so we will have a lot of sound from the gears (brrrrr) (Music box plays) So, the test told me that we are on our right way and we can move on. And in this next bar I already see a problem with the MIDI. This note, doesn’t exist on the music box. It’s too low. You can try to put it one octave higher. As you can see I drew some mistakes but then I just cross out those circles and then when I start punching the holes I know that I shouldn’t punch those. It’s good to keep this song in mind. Like here I know there’s two notes at the same time. I want the base note to be little earlier so I put the hole a little bit in this direction like a little bit before and this melody I put a little bit that direction to have that ‘g-dang’ nice music box feeling (click) (click) (continuous clicking) so, that was half the holes so here, where we are now I want the song to repeat itself I want to play what we have programmed so far, twice And the goodnews is that there’s a way of copying what we have just done If we take this note, where the song should repeat and we align it with the first note that we already cut, we can actually just use the holes that we cut and copy them onto the new paper, like this. But before I draw all these, I’m gonna check for mistakes on the first holes. And note now that we don’t have the real microphones in the music box now, so it’s going to be a lot of mechanical noise. Slower… What happened there? The highest note didn’t play. I didn’t hear any mistakes. So this time I was lucky enough because there was no mistakes in this programming so far. But I want to show you a trick on how to fix your mistakes. It’s actually no problem, because you will make a lot of mistakes. So I’m gonna show you just for an example. I put a hole here this one and I just realized that it should be on the line next to it. So what I do is that I turn it around and I tape that hole. I make sure the tape has very nice edges and then I re-punch the hole right next to it. So now the right note will be played. and the wrong note will be silent. So, that’s some comfort, in a way If you put a note a little bit too early, I think here, I put this note here you can just keep on making a hole until you want the note because the music box wont play until the hole ends. Now I have repeated the whole song twice but I want to end the song with repeating the first little part, also. So, take the beginning and you’re just gonna draw that little part in as well. Last hole! Riiiiight there. Okay. When you cut for a long time, the paper edge is tearing up your skin like this. I just put a piece of masking tape on my hand It works very good, actually. So, this song is done. I think if you were good with writing software you could write a software that takes MIDI and makes a laser cutting template and you can just put these papers into the laser cutter and have the laser cutter to cut perfect holes with perfect timing Annnnd . . . if someone is interested in doing something like that with me, please let me know because it would be quite cool, actually. I know for a 30 note music box, I have seen rolls long rolls with paper so you don’t have to join them. If someone has seen long rolls for the 20 note music box paper so you don’t have to join them I would be very interested for that link as well. This song is done. and, on the next video, I’m gonna put the song onto the music box and record it properly so you can hear the result. I hope you learned something today and maybe you want to try this yourself. I would love to see your version of a music box like this. It doesn’t have to be motorized, it can be hand cranked. That’s sometimes even cooler. And . . . You can subscribe to Wintergatan here, And . . . Thanks so much for watching. See you on the next video.

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Dennis Veasley

100 thoughts on “How To Program a Music Box – Hole Punch Tutorial”

  1. Question: how do you punch in sharp (#) or flat notes? do you just punch a hole in between whole notes?

  2. As an engineering student I would love to make a device that automatically punches holes. I think one could make “a music maker box” a music box that punches holes instead of playing them, an arduino could control the hole punching, and an encoder could Tracy the rotation of a drive wheel. The goal being you export a MIDI to the device and it automatically prints out a perfect copy.

  3. This looks like it would fit in a Point of Sale Printer, they come with big rolls. Typically they are 80MM; I didn't catch what width these are. I have seen them with thick Card Stock which should work for you. They print thermally, so they are very manageable. The programming would pretty straight forward, I would think. – Did you get someone to print things for you?

  4. kids getting off the polar express
    Kid A:What did yours say?
    Kid B:Believe
    Kid A:Cool mine said wisdom
    Kid C: mine is a butch of dots that make weird noises when put through this specific machine

    From the midi file write a program to make gcode for a plotter or even better one of those cheap vinayl cutters , those can take this paper for sure

  6. where can i buy the music box he has? i only see small ones and i would love to get that fancy one lol

  7. If i get too frustrated by the punching part, i might make an arduino or raspberry pi project just to make it a lot less tedious lol

  8. Hey, is that possible that you could help me making midi notes to one specific song for 30notes music box?

  9. Watching these kinds of videos reminds me that it is more than likely that we are not all originated from the same planet. I speculate that not only are our ancient ancestors from a different planet but that we are all originated from different planet(s). This would account for many things that are observable in our world to this very day. Wow. That guy must be a descendant from the planet brainytopia. I myself am descended from the planet movethatboxoverthereian. My people pulled carts in the Egyptian desert by hand because all their camels died.

  10. I love how your music compositions sound so ethereal and light like the heavens, cosmos. They have a levity and joy to them. Listening to your compositions makes me feel happy.

  11. Instead of using a pen or pencil to copy the holes onto the next strip of paper, just put the paper with holes on the top of the blank strip. Tape it down and use a can of spray paint very lightly so the paper doesn't get wet. You will now have your second copy to punch holes in. Should save a lot of time.
    I do have a question about your paper punch. Where is it on line? I am trying to find one to make punch cards for a vintage tube tester that uses punched cards for different electron tubes.. Most on the market will not do a 4" width.

    And by that, I mean


  13. I remember being young and having music whisping through my head all the time, wishing I had the means to write it down… you are so very talented. Thank you for sharing.

  14. Back in the day you use punch cards to write or load data into a computer with a type writer, then you had to scan the cards into the computer to input the data like he does making and playing music. Yeah, bssaackwards system forback inthe day.

  15. This video was in my recommended videos today :O i try to play some themes in my music box with that papers, but sometimes i cant because they had flad notes, is possible to play flat notes in a music box with these papers? I just can play themes in a C diatonic scale u.u

  16. hola me encanto tu video… luego mire en tu canal y desearia entender lo que explicas por favor podrias subtitular al español algunos de tus próximos videps.. seguro que tendrias muchos seguidores de habla hispana… excelente video saludos desde Argentina.

  17. This song is so gorgeous, it makes me feel so nostalgic, just like Zelda, I’m gonna make this for my girlfriend bro

  18. Thanks for this, Inspired by your creations I am planning to make a music box for my wife of our wedding music. This makes it a lot easier to understand how to do it.

  19. Hey Martin, did you find someone to build an automated tool for doing this from a midi file? I'd certainly be interested in making one.

  20. This guy has more musical and engineering talent in his discarded finger nail clipping from third grade than I have in my entire body. Astounding.

  21. I'd just make myself an automatic hole puncher in a weekend and be done with it, my time is too valuable for stuff like this, but I am also a magician (physicist) not an artist.

  22. والله بطران مضيعه للوقت :/ خوب اشتريلك جهاز يكصكصهن خلال ساعه يكمل كله الشغل

  23. It is not necessary to cut them with a laser. After all, there are stepper motors. You can make a mechanical machine for cutting holes.

  24. You don't have to tape together multiple strips, you can just buy the big paper roll (in length of a toilet paper rolls) and just cut off where you need to. Neverthless, I like your video, gonna try this soon myself 😀

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