<project> steps(05)

Music Boxes

What's CODER?
Download Complete Project 4.7mb | .zip file


Let’s turn it up. This project will transform your browser into a simple instrument that you can use to make music.

A great project for: Musicians, music lovers, or anyone that has a song in their heart that they want a computer to play.


Skills Needed: Basic HTML, Basic CSS, Introduction to jQuery, Basic Javascript

Skills Learned: Buttons, CSS Pseudo-Classes, Variables, Basic Audio, Basic Browser Compatibility

Submitted By: Coder Team

Are you ready to jam?

You’re probably ready to start playing but make sure you’ve got the skills you need to start this project or your hard work might fall flat.

Get the files

Let’s start by downloading the audio files we will need to build these music boxes. Here's a set of pre-made note files that you can download as

Once you’ve downloaded the zip file make sure it’s in a place you can find it and open it to get at the files inside. You should see a bunch of files with types like “mp3,” “ogg,” and “wav.”

Let's get all those files into your project:

  • Open the Media tab in your Coder project. Hint: it looks like a little folder.
  • Make sure you've unzipped the file. You need the music files inside, not the zip itself.
  • It may take a little while, but go ahead and upload each of the files from that folder into your app.

Step 1: Let's add our audio tags

Alright. Let’s start with the exciting part and get those audio files working in our project.

  • Go to your project's HTML tab.
  • Erase everything in the <body> tag.
  • Inside our newly empty body tag, add an <audio> tag.

Our code looks like this:

<body> <audio> </audio> </body>

That audio tag is going to be the key to the whole project. It’s a special type of element that allows us to play audio files in web pages. We’ll fill it with all the files we’ve uploaded in the next step.

Step 2: Adding our audio files

Now that we’ve made our audio tag we need to fill it with audio files. This is where things can get a little tricky.

The problem is that there isn’t one audio file type all browsers can play. Instead we must offer three different audio files that we know various browsers will be able to handle. Each one of the files will make the same sound but they have been converted to different formats that are suitable for different browsers. By providing different files, we make it more likely that someone will be able to hear and play with our music boxes project.

So now that we know why we have so many different file types, let’s add them to our <audio> tag. We’ll do it by defining three different sources for our audio element that a browser could pick.

  • Inside the <audio> tag add a new <source> tag.
  • Next to the word “source” in the opening tag add the src attribute, src="". Between the quotes, you'll be adding a link to an audio file you uploaded.
  • Put your cursor in between the src attribute's quotes and go to the media tab.
  • Find the file called c_note.mp3 and click "paste to code" to paste the audio path in between the quotes.
  • After the src attribute, add the type attribute, type="audio/mpeg". This tells the browser what type of audio file this is.

Go ahead and add two more <source> tags to hold the OGG and WAV files for the C note sound. The audio types for these will be "audio/ogg" and "audio/wav".

Once you’ve added those files. Add the attribute “controls” to the inside of the opening audio tag. This will add audio player controls to our file and let us test the sound in preview mode.

Our code looks like this. If you've named your project differently, your src paths will be slightly different:

<audio controls> <source src="/static/apps/music_boxes/media/c_note.mp3" type="audio/mpeg"></source> <source src="/static/apps/music_boxes/media/c_note.ogg" type="audio/ogg"></source> <source src="/static/apps/music_boxes/media/c_note.wav" type="audio/wav"></source> </audio>

Now pretty much anyone with a modern browser should be able to hear this note! So let’s test it out.

  • Go back to the preview.
  • You should see a some audio controls in the upper left.
  • Press play and listen to the sound. That’s our audio file!

You can use this method to quickly play audio files in your projects. It’s pretty basic and not very cool looking. We want to make a musical instrument out of these sounds. To do that we’ll need to do a little more work.

  • Go ahead and add <audio> tags and source files for each of our other music notes.
  • Once you’ve added and tested all the files, take “controls” off of the audio tags. We want to hide them for now. Don’t worry, they’re still there. In the next steps we’ll make custom buttons to control and play those files.

Step 3: Let's make some boxes

Let’s start by making the boxes that will act as our “keys.” We will be giving each one a unique color and style so that we can tell them apart. When we finished we will have something that looks like the picture above. Each box will eventually become a button that plays a single note.

  • In the HTML tab add a new <div> tag below our audio files.
  • Give it an id="instrument" attribute. We'll use this container to hold and position the note boxes.
  • Inside the <div id="instrument">, add seven more divs.
  • Give each <div> an id that corresponds to a musical note starting with c and ending with b. Hint: this is a C scale (c, d, e, f, g, a, b).
  • Also, give each <div> a class called "box" (We'll use this to shape all of our note boxes the same).

Our code looks like this:

<div id="instrument"> <div id="c" class="box"></div> <div id="d" class="box"></div> <div id="e" class="box"></div> <div id="f" class="box"></div> <div id="g" class="box"></div> <div id="a" class="box"></div> <div id="b" class="box"></div> </div>

Alright, Now we have all our divs in place. Let’s style them!

  • Flip to the CSS tab. Go ahead and erase any code that’s already there.
  • Make a style that changes the background-color of the <body> to black

Our code looks like this:

body { background-color: black; }
  • Next, make a style for our instrument id.
  • Give it properties that will hold our buttons and position them in the center of the browser.

Our code looks like this:

#instrument { height: 116px; width: 812px; padding-right: 10px; padding-top: 50px; margin: auto; position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; bottom: 0; right: 0; }
  • Next, create the box class that will give our boxes shape and sit inside our instrument.
  • We’ll set the width and height to 100px and the top and left margins to 10px. A float: left; property will keep them lined up nicely.

Our code looks like this:

.box { width: 100px; height: 100px; margin-left: 10px; margin-top: 10px; float:left; }

Now that we’ve got all our #instrument and .box styles, let’s create styles that will individually color each of our boxes.

  • Make a new #id for each of our musical note boxes.
  • Give each box a 3px solid border in a unique color. (We gave each of ours a color of the rainbow.)
  • Give each of the boxes a unique background-color (We made ours a darker tint of its border color)

The code for our note boxes looks like this:

#c { background-color: #3e181b; border: 3px solid #db1d2d; } #d { background-color: #422018; border: 3px solid #f0421c; } #e { background-color: #45391b; border: 3px solid #fec02d; } #f { background-color: #193c29; border: 3px solid #20d071; } #g { background-color: #18323e; border: 3px solid #1a9ddb; } #a { background-color: #331f35; border: 3px solid #a13fad; } #b { background-color: #43293d; border: 3px solid #f26fd4; }

Take a look at your preview. How does your music box look so far?

Step 4: Making our boxes buttons

Now that we’ve made our music boxes, let’s give them some properties that make them more fun to click and strum.

Let’s begin by adding some hover effect to our buttons that will brighten their background color up a bit as well as turn our cursor into a little finger instead of an arrow. Let’s start with #c id.

  • Add a new hover pseudo class for #c.
  • Add a background-color property that’s a lighter tint of its current color.
  • We’ll also add a cursor property with pointer as it’s value. This will change the cursor to the little hand.

The code for our note boxes looks like this:

#c:hover { background-color:#661920; cursor: pointer; }

Test it out on preview. See how the box lightens up and the color changes when you hover over it?

Go ahead and make hover classes for each of the note boxes. You can add them right above their parent style to help keep track of them.

You can use these values for the hover background-color:

  • c: #661920
  • d: #6e2819
  • e: #735b20
  • f: #1b613b
  • g: #184d65
  • a: #4e2753
  • b: #6f3a62

Now let’s make our boxes brighten all the way up when we click them. To do this we will add a new pseudo class called active.

  • In between the #c id and #c:hover pseudo class add a new #c: active class.
  • Add a background-color property that will match its border color.

Our code looks like this:

#c:active { background-color:#db1d2d; }

Go back to the preview mode. Click on the first box. See how it brightens up all the way when its pressed? That’s what active is doing. Go ahead and make active pseudo-classes for all the note boxes that brighten them up to match their border colors when clicked.

Step 5: Making those boxes play music

Alright. We’ve got all the pieces in place! Now let’s add a little Javascript and get this thing making music.

Let’s start with our first note, the c note.

  • Go back to the HTML tab.
  • Find the audio tag for the C note.
  • Add the id “cAudio”. This will help us control this element with Javascript.

Our code looks like this:

<audio id="cAudio"> <source src="/static/apps/music_boxes/media/c_note.mp3" type="audio/mpeg"></source> <source src="/static/apps/music_boxes/media/c_note.ogg" type="audio/ogg"></source> <source src="/static/apps/music_boxes/media/c_note.wav" type="audio/wav"></source> </audio>
  • Back in the Javascript tab add a new variable called cNote.
  • Use document.getElementById to pull the cAudio audio element we defined on the HTML tab.

Our code looks like this:

var cNote = document.getElementById('cAudio');

Now that we’ve got a variable with our audio file, let’s make it play.

Let’s use jQuery to call out our #c <div> and make it play our cNote variable every time it’s clicked.

To do that start a new line and add the following text:

$('#c').mousedown(function(){ });

This will turn that #c div into a true button that will run a function as soon as the <div> is pressed with your mouse button.

  • In between the function braces, add the line:
  • Go to the preview mode and click the first box? Did the note play?

Try clicking it twice, quickly. You’ll notice that the audio file will play all the way through (about 8 seconds) before we can click it again. That’s no fun. Let’s add some code to change that.

  • Go back into the Javascript tab.
  • Add a new line of code above;
  • Add the following text: cNote.currentTime = 0;

Our code looks like this:

$('#c').mousedown(function(){ cNote.currentTime = 0;; });

currentTime is a property that will scrub back to a certain point of a media file, measured in seconds. In this case we’re scrubbing it back to the beginning, or 0 seconds. This will happen every time the button is clicked and just before the file plays.

Go ahead and add ids, variables and .mousedown functions for the six other notes and your music player will be finished!

You can copy the code we just wrote and swap in new variable names and IDs.

Once you’re finished enjoy your music player! See what kind of songs you can play.

Bonus Rounds

Making music is fun. See you if you can make your new instrument a little more interesting with the exercises below.

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