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SPIN is a beautiful and imaginative AI synthesizer

Arduino TeamFebruary 13th, 2024

If you’re heard the pop music emanating from any recent reality TV show, you won’t be surprised to learn that AI is perfectly capable of generating tunes on demand. It won’t replace true artistry any time soon, but AI music fits all of the technical criteria. But typing a prompt is boring, which is why Arvind Sanjeev constructed this gorgeous and imaginative AI synthesizer called SPIN.

SPIN is beautiful and looks like a cross between a turntable and a drum machine. Those visual cues hint at its function. The user can press buttons on the right-side pad to define musical characteristics, which then form a prompt for a language model called MusicGen. That synthesizes music according to the selected characteristics, like “happy” and “lo-fi.” The music then starts playing and the user can control its speed and direction using the record on the turntable — even scratching like a DJ if they want.

A Raspberry Pi 4 Model B runs MusicGen, but it receives inputs through an Arduino Mega 2560 connected to the buttons. There are also dials to set song duration and BPM (beats per minute), as well as control knobs.

The turntable is a Numark PT-01, but the vinyl is a special dummy record that only contains a time code track. The sound from that then feeds through the audio driver back to the Raspberry Pi, where it is decoded to control the playback of the synthesized music. 

SPIN is truly stunning to look at and its functionality is quite interesting, but Sanjeev’s real motivation was to raise awareness about the ethics of AI-generated art and the original human-made art it is trained on. 


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