What Are You Talking About?

So we are a fun-loving group called the Tesla Orchestra, and we want to share our joy of musical tesla coils with the World. These are devices that shoot out big bolts of electricity that are tuned so they actually produce musical notes. It sounds like this video here.

We have two of these giant musical tesla coils, and on July 7th, 2012, we want to hear your original songs played on these things. Just send us your song, we'll turn it into lightning for you.

Give us Two MIDI Files and one MP3

We've tried to stick to standard file formats to keep things simple for us and you.

MIDIOur tesla coils accept MIDI. That's it. So simple, right? Give us one MIDI file for each tesla coil, and we'll turn your music into lightning.

MONOPHONIC The only other detail is that the tesla coils are monophonic instruments, so each one can only play one note at a time. That means no chords. You CAN do fast arpeggios if you'd like, and our Tesla Coils DO support the pitch wheel so feel free to do pitch bends in your song.

SOFTWAREYou can record or write your MIDI files with any software you like. Famous musician Matt Fitzpatrick recorded the composition in last year's promo video using a MIDI keyboard and Logic Pro software on the Mac, but you can use freeware software like Anvil Studio (PC) or the free version of MU LAB (Mac and PC).

STYLE

  • We recommend laying on the sparks pretty heavily. Every note is a spark, so don't be stingy with those notes, lay it on thick! Make those sparks fly as often as possible.
  • Short staccato notes might sound good on a violin, but on a tesla coil they sound like little farts. Give us some long legato notes, or short notes but with no silence (rests) in between.
  • Harmony on the coils sounds excellent, as does counterpoint.
  • The best simulator of the sound of the coils is a synth that generates a narrow, square pulse. The sparks are extremely rich in harmonics, and sound very sharp, and this type of synth emulates that.
  • If you have questions or concerns about the music you're working on, feel free to contact our music team. We are happy to work with you, and we'd rather you contact us early so there's time to fix any format issues. See the contact page for more info.
  • Here's an example of how the coils behave with increasing frequency. At the low end, the sparks will be long, and likely to strike the poles in the middle. As the pitch increases, the sparks will get shorter, fatter and quieter until they disappear completely.

BACKUP TRACKSOh what's that? You have a drum track and a vocal track you want to accompany your song? No problem! Besides the two MIDI files, you can also upload your backup tracks as a single MP3 file, and we'll play this on a PA system at the same time that your two MIDI files are being played on the tesla coils. Makes sense, right? Two midi files and one mp3. That mp3 file should be 44.1khz stereo, and should not exceed 192kbps. That just makes things easy for us.

LENGTHHow long should your piece be? It can be as short as you like, but in terms of length go ahead and save your 60-minute Frank Zappa tribute composition for another day. Please limit submissions to less than 8 minutes!

NOTE RANGEJust like a traditional instrument, Musical Tesla Coils have a range of notes (frequencies) that they can play. For our Tesla Coils that range is A1 (55 Hz) through F6 (1396.91 Hz). Your mp3 backup track can contain whatever tones and frequencies you want, but your MIDI tracks should stick to this range. You don't have to be a math whiz to get this right though, just look at this picture that shows these notes on a piano and a guitar. Make sure your MIDI files only contain notes in this acceptable range.

EXAMPLEWould you just like to see what the heck we're talking about? No problem!
Download this zip file, containing the two MIDI files and the one MP3 file for the composition you heard in last year's promo video. By the way, this is "Ode to Eli the Ice Man" by Matt Fitzpatrick.