Music Controlled Raspberry Pi Lights Change Color by Playing Piano

Raspberry Pi
(Image credit: RandomBrasilian)

Raspberry Pi projects don’t have to be complex to be incredible and this Pi project is a shining example. RandomBrasilian has created a Raspberry Pi Zero-powered set of Christmas lights that react to different musical notes played on a keyboard. According to the original post shared to Reddit, this was their first Pi project ever making the creation that much more impressive.

my_first_pi_project_digital_piano_pi_zero_xmas from r/raspberry_pi

The idea was to create a system that would change the colors of LEDs as music is played on a digital piano. RandomBrasilian is using string of addressable WS2811 lights that one at a time change color down the string as notes are played. Each note corresponds with a color, creating a visual display of the music you just heard.

In our experience, some of the best Raspberry Pi projects have a few iterations before reaching their final design. We reached out to RandomBrasilian who explained that a prototype was created using Philips Hue lights connected to their computer. But to make things more dynamic, they decided to use WS2811 Christmas lights and to power the project with a Raspberry Pi Zero instead of a PC.

The keyboard outputs data to the Pi via USB in the form of MIDI. This input is read using Mido lib, a Python library created for working with MIDI input. As each note is recognized, the next light in the string changes to a predetermined corresponding color. Another concept that failed to make it to the final product was the idea to illuminate a light only while the note is played but as only one light shows at a time, this proved to be much less dazzling.

Check out the original thread from Reddit for a demo video of these lights in action and be sure to follow RandomBrasilian for updates on this exciting Pi project.

Ash Hill
Freelance News and Features Writer

Ash Hill is a Freelance News and Features Writer with a wealth of experience in the hobby electronics, 3D printing and PCs. She manages the Pi projects of the month and much of our daily Raspberry Pi reporting while also finding the best coupons and deals on all tech.