Hear The Cranberries' Hit “Zombie” on Arduino and Disk Drives!

“In tribute to Dolores O'Riordan, the Asimov Club presents ‘Zombie’ from The Cranberries played on floppy drives, hard drives and now with percussion (solenoid).”


That’s the message that accompanies this memorable disk drive-driven rendition of the 1994 hit single from The Cranberries, presented here by Club Asimov (check their Facebook page). It’s a song that has remained in the public consciousness for almost quarter of a century, partly because it’s a great tune, but also because it crystallizes a generation’s memories of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

However, this tune is just one more amazing arrangement featuring floppy and hard disk drives, all hooked up to an Arduino. Such projects have been drawing attention to the possibilities of these old media reading devices for some months now; in late 2017, the The Floppy Disk Orchestra and Professor Danielle George appeared on BBC 6 Music, demonstrating that this method of producing music has clearly arrived.

But how is it produced? How could you make your own band of clunking, clicking, whirring and buzzing disk drives?

Well, a mix of HDDs and 3.5” floppy drives are recommended. You might also find a 5.25” drive comes in useful, although these are harder to get hold of. But like a 5.25” HDD, it will add a different tone. A power supply is also required for the drives, as is an Arduino. This Instructables page lists the software you’ll need to download, which includes the NetBeans Java JDK bundle, along with the Moppy software which plays MIDI files through the attached HDDs and floppy drives. Straightforward, but likely to take some work to set up, this makes a great weekend project.

Just in case you’re unfamiliar with ‘Zombie’, here’s The Cranberries’ original version.

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