Witness the majesty of Toto's classic Africa played on a pair of Tesla coils

The internet has come up trumps once more, delivering perhaps the finest combination of a physics and music since The Flaming Lips released What Is the Light?" ("An Untested Hypothesis Suggesting That the Chemical [In Our Brains] by Which We Are Able to Experience the Sensation of Being in Love Is the Same Chemical That Caused the "Big Bang" That Was the Birth of the Accelerating Universe") in 1993.

This time it's actual scientists providing the entertainment, with the clever folks at Franzoli Electronics – based in Leipzig, Germany – releasing a version of Toto's 1981 classic Africa performed by a pair of Tesla coils. 

The Tesla coil was invented by Nikola Tesla in 1891, and was designed to transmit electricity wirelessly, producing spectacular arcs of electrical energy as it does so. He probably didn't envisage it being used 130 years later to produce music, but hey, that's progress for you. 

"For those who did not understand what is going on this video, here's a brief explanation," say Franzoli. "The main loud music really comes from the Tesla coil sparks. They are literally playing the music due to the programmed phase, pulse width and firing frequency! 

"So, there are no speakers, no audio / video special effects. It looks even better in person and sounds almost the same, just without the beat / percussion backing track."

Over the last few years, Africa has developed a new life beyond its already exulted place in the rock canon. It's been a hit for Weezer, been played all night to raise money for a charity in Malawi, and been turned into the most infuriating piece of music ever.

It's also been turned into a solar-powered sound installation which plays on a perpetual loop in the Namibian desert. And there's a cover by The Floppotron, in which 64 floppy disc drives, eight hard drives and a two scanners are programmed to play the notes that make up the song, with it all sequenced to re-imagine Africa as as series of mechanical bleeps and screeches.

Not bored yet? It's also been performed on a sweet potato and a butternut squash.


Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.