Music controlled lights via Arduino


Gerrit sent us a link to his Arduino project that syncs a strand of lights to the beat of the music. He uses Processing to analyze the sound, and an Arduino to control the relay. He plans on upgrading to solid state-relays in the future, along with making an enclosure for safety. Thanks Gerrit!

I used the minim library for processing for beat detection. It takes input from an iPod, detects the beats for it, and then sends commands to the Arduino board to turn on and off a relay switch.

More about Music controlled lights via Arduino

In the Maker Shed:
Arduino Family
Make: Arduino

16 thoughts on “Music controlled lights via Arduino

  1. russelldub says:

    I’ve seen a lot of these projects where the design is for the Arduino to be a sensing/control slave for a computer. It seems to me that this is a bit of overkill.

    Aren’t there cheaper ways to control a relay via USB?

    I realize that arduino/processsing take a lot of the hard work out of it, but it seems to me to be a space that an enterprising Maker could fill with great success.

    A low/no memory tool for simple input/output to processing so that the IDE is familiar, but the cost of building the interface is much smaller.

    I’d be interested in others expert opinions on the topic.


  2. Gerrit Coetzee says:

    I mean, it’s overkill for one light yes… but think of how not overkill it becomes when you add more lights and use charlieplexing+arduino to control them. I mean, this project is really cool because a) it uses incredibly simple languages to do this b) it’s as easy to turn the rope light on as an led. So I mean, fog machine, lasers, all sorts can be controlled with very little effort. In other words, as the number of things needing to be controlled increases, this becomes a more and more simple solution.


  3. russelldub says:

    What if the goal is not to add anything extra?

    And even if you have twenty inputs/outputs you don’t need the logic that the arduino provides.

    I guess what I’m suggesting is a processing interface to a much simpler expansion board.


    1. Marc de Vinck says:

      @ russelldub

      Yes, the Arudino is very powerful for just blinking a set of lights. However, this project is a great foundation for further expansion that can harness all the power of the Arduino. It’s always great to have room to grow!

  4. Andrew Ortman says:

    Hey guys, I made this project [andrew ortman] – Gerrits just one of my friends who was nice enough to submit it around the internet! Thanks Gerrit! :D

    The reason I used an arduino is for three reasons:
    1) Price – it was laying around from other projects, there are other boards specifically designed for relay applications. Look at They have everything from USB control to bluetooth to wifi! Other options include using DMX, but thats way too expensive for me.
    2) Extendability – I plan on making this much more than just a rope light blinking to music. I’m looking at also moving the minim code onto the arduino itself (hopefully) and taking an analog input for the sound.
    3) Time – I’m a college student on Spring Break :o After this weekend, I’ll be back hitting the books hoping to get my masters in computer engineering from Tennessee Tech. I built this rig in only about 6 hours from concept to finished prototype.

    It is really bad overkill right now. But I do plan on improving it in the future. I’m even thinking on extending the minim library and customizing it for smarter frequency analysis and then control many lights (think >4 sets) each representing a different frequency band.

    I’ll keep you posted on my blog,

    1. Marc de Vinck says:


      Sorry, I’ll update the post. Very cool project!

  5. russelldub says:

    Thanks for continuing this conversation guys.

    I appreciate the flexibility of the Arduino and understand fully why it’s useful, and see that if you ([andrew ortman]) are going to fully develop your project to the point you envision then the Arduino is appropriate.

    However, I still think there is a place for a simpler and cheaper I/O and haven’t yet seen it. Maybe I need to look harder.

    The website mentioned doesn’t really fit the bill because their products are way more expensive than an Arduino. Not sure what value they have that the Arduino doesn’t.

    Maybe the Arduino is as cheap as it gets for this type of hobbyist computer interface…


  6. Driton says:

    Yeah u can do it without Arduino just connect ur lights on u speak +/- or better is it in AMP bcz is more strong….

Comments are closed.

Discuss this article with the rest of the community on our Discord server!


Ready to dive into the realm of hands-on innovation? This collection serves as your passport to an exhilarating journey of cutting-edge tinkering and technological marvels, encompassing 15 indispensable books tailored for budding creators.

Escape to an island of imagination + innovation as Maker Faire Bay Area returns for its 15th iteration!

Buy Tickets today! SAVE 15% and lock-in your preferred date(s).