Tag Archives: Stayin’ Alive

16 knives and one meat cleaver come together to perform a Bee Gees hit

Finally, an Arduino project that even Edward Scissorhands would love.

We’ve seen some pretty astonishing musical masterpieces over the years, and this recent project from Neil Mendoza may take the cake. That’s because the British artist, who now resides in Los Angeles, has put together what is perhaps the greatest and strangest rendition of the Bee Gees hit “Stayin’ Alive” that we’ve ever heard using 16 knives and a meat cleaver.


Mendoza notes that the knives were purchased from a local dollar store, and the grinding of cutlery emits a form of percussion by banging and rubbing together various objects, including a triangle chime and bells. When combined, they generate a rather unique rendition of the 1977 jam.

All of the instruments are driven by an Arduino running an Arduino Oscillator program. The music was arranged in Logic, output through a USB to MIDI cable, and then read by the Atmel based board via a MIDI circuit. Two of the instruments actually rely on stepper motors for sound, stepping them at the frequency of whatever note they’re playing.


A Jacob’s Ladder — suspended between two knives — utilizes a relay to control a 12,000V neon sign transformer, while three other pieces like the cleaver are activated by MOSFETs connected to solenoids and car door lock actuators.

“I really enjoy taking objects out of context and making them do slightly absurd things,” Mendoza tells MAKE: Magazine. “Knives have lots of meaning attached to them, both from their role as weapons and as cooking implements, so they seemed like great objects to play with.”