Mario Gets His Own Band – Of Music Robots

This video, via roboband, demonstrates a custom system that allows for Nintendo gameplay audio to be automatically performed on an acoustic player piano and robotically controlled percussive instruments.

The piano and percussion play live during actual gameplay, mirroring the sounds that would normally be created electronically.

All audio, including music and sound effects, is translated in realtime so that it is produced by the instrument most closely resembling the characteristics of the original electronic sound.


  • 0:00 – Mario
  • 0:53 – Mario 2
  • 2:59 – Mario 3
  • 4:06 – Zelda
  • 6:02 – Mario 2 (End Theme)

Technical Details:

The piano and the percussion use solenoids to drive their player mechanisms. The piano uses Yamaha’s Disklavier system to strike keys, and the percussion uses a custom solution to strike the drum sticks. Both the piano and percussion are each controlled by Raspberry Pis which have custom software to control each instrument.

The software is responsible for translating the gameplay audio to instructions which ultimately define which solenoid should be actuated. In full disclosure, there is normally a half-second audio delay that was removed in editing, but it’s still very playable live. The piano is controlled through the Disklavier’s MIDI interface, while the percussion’s solenoids are directly controlled through the Pi’s GPIO interface.

2 thoughts on “Mario Gets His Own Band – Of Music Robots

  1. Really cool, but I still don’t get how it’s done. Is the game running on an emulator on the Raspberry which takes the sound from the ROM file and translates it to the instruments?

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