The Complete Lo-Fi Planets

Inspired by the legendary Tomita, the Lo-Fi Orchestra presentation of Gustav Holst’s Planets Suite is now complete.

The original Lo-Fi Orchestra project started off as an attempt to bring a range of my “Simple DIY Electronic Music Projects” together to “perform” a single piece.  After a number of initial performances, I decided to take the full orchestral score for Gustav Holst’s Planets Suite and started recreating it note by note to tailor Mars to work on my growing Arduino orchestra.

This was back in December 2020. Over the next nine months, there have been numerous additional performances of the Lo-Fi Orchestra, including further movements from the Planets.  The final piece – Neptune – was completed in September 2021.

This project does not describe a recipe to allow you to recreate this work, but all the elements of this project are described on this site.  I could have built up “better” versions for the Lo-Fi Orchestra, but one of my design goals was to attempt to keep the “home made” possibility for each individual component.  You will hear additional clicks and pops due to poor grounding, 8-bit clipping, MIDI overloading, unshielded mixing of digital MIDI signals and audio output, and so on in many of these performances.  But if you want a hi-fi studio version you should play a MIDI file through a modern synthesizer or better yet go and hear a real orchestra perform.  There is really nothing quite like it.

But if you want to put together a performance in your kitchen, with cheap or low-cost components, and learn about the basics of sound synthesis at the same time, without worrying too much about the sound quality, then all details are available here.

There are 11 Arduino Nanos, 6 Arduino Unos, 1 Arduino Pro Mini, 1 Adafruit Feather 32u4, and a Raspberry Pi using the following projects from this site:

With a supporting cast of:

It was orchestrated using MuseScore3, exported to MIDI and “mucked about with” in MidiEditor, tested using MIDIOx and finally “conducted” by MIDIBar.

This has been programmed in from scratch from the original orchestral score and the composer’s own arrangement for two pianos.

You can watch the entire thing complete using the links below and the full performance can be found in this YouTube playlist:

All music rights and copyright with original authors, composers, producers, artists, and so on.



2 thoughts on “The Complete Lo-Fi Planets

  1. That is wonderful! I really like the idea that separate speakers brings you closer to your own live orchestral performance. I am intrigued by the lower tones and the more capable components, so I may have to check out the VS1053 and others. I am new to these projects, and your documentation is much appreciated.


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