Cello Fortress Uses A Musical Instrument As A Game Controller

Protecting a fortress with nothing but a cello sounds like a challenge, but the following Dutch cellist has managed to do it in a game.

Cello Fortress is not Joost van Dongen’s first game, as he has created Proun in the past. On top of that, he also took part at founding Ronimo Games, the studio that brought us such games as De Blob, Awesomenauts and Swords & Soldiers. This time, Joost took a different route. He has composed music for games before (according to his Twitter account), but for this experiment, he wanted to control parts of the game with a cello, and by the looks of it, he has succeeded.

The game may have crude graphics, but because there is such an innovative concept behind it, I’m willing to turn a blind eye. Playing the game is not as simple as it may seem. Joost employs a cello to defend the fortress and depending on the notes that are played, certain weapons are triggered. On the other side are several players from the audience that try to conquer the fortress. Their task is easier, since they use common game controllers to steer their tanks.

As mentioned before, the defense of the fortress depends on the tonality of the music. The fortress is protected by guns, cannons and flamethrowers. Fast high notes activate the guns, while dissonant notes trigger the flamethrowers. If low notes are played, mines appear on the field surrounding the fortress. Simple melodies put the cannons in function. The video at the end of this post shows Joost improvising on a cello, while the game is projected on a wall, so that more people can attend the event. Obviously, the game can also be played on a laptop, but the small display would force people to focus too much.


I hope Joost will forgive me if he ever reads this post for the things that I’m just about to say. Every time I hear a cello or read about this musical instrument, I can’t help but think about Rob Paravonian’s Pachelbel Rant. You’ll have to watch the video to notice the connection.


The Cello Fortress website includes the upcoming concerts/play sessions, as well as a list of past events. At the moment, Joost showcases his project only in the Netherlands, but I hope that someday he’ll tour the rest of the world, too.

If you liked this post, please check this magnetic cello and Artiphone’s Instrument One.