The teeny, tiny little music making thing in a Tic Tac box

This slightly complex Instructable shows you how to make a wee little potentiometer and circuit board to make something called a Tic Tac Tunes. When you move a stylus up and down the potentiometer you play one or more of the notes in a pre-defined set of musical tones. In this way you can play the song at different tempos. You then stuff the whole thing in a Tic Tac box and play away, ensuring you’ll be the life of the party.

I’ve no formal musical training and this is a compressed version of what knowledge I’ve picked up over the years. If anyone finds errors, or has further ideas, please leave a comment.

The PicAxe can produce musical tones across three octaves, which in a full chromatic scale (with the sharps and flats) is 36 notes. Because of the way the waveforms interact and the way the brain interprets this, some notes will sound ‘wrong’ when played next to each other.

Other scales have developed around the world which use a selection of these notes, and some of these don’t allow the disharmonies of the full scale. The pentatonic (5 note) scales are like this. I’ve chosen a minor pentatonic of A C D E G.

The chromatic scale is what you would use to play ‘proper’ tunes from written music, but the lack of definite note positions on TicTacTunes makes hitting the right note difficult. The positions could be marked, but it will take a better musician than me to play a recognisable tune. Improvisation with one of the harmonious scales is the way to go with this gadget.

He basically picks a scale and plays that rather than offering the standard chromatic scale.