Synthesizers and The History of Gestural Control - part 3

This week we move on chronologically past the Telharmoium and The Theremin, to another synthesizer with some very unique controller that has also managed to survive the test of time. This synth has seen resurgences from time to time, but most notably in the early 1990s and 2000s when the bands Daft Punk and Radiohead brought it into the spotlight. Previously the instrument had been used on 100s of classic recordings and performances. 

Ondes Martenot 1928

The Ondes Martenot (French for "Martenot waves"), also known as the Ondium Martenot, Martenotand Ondes musicales, is an early electronic musical instrument invented in 1928 by Maurice Martenot.

The original oscillator design was similar in sound to theTheremin.The sonic capabilities of the instrument were later expanded by the addition of timbre controls and switchable loudspeakers.The instrument's eerie wavering notes are produced by varying the frequency of oscillation in vacuum tubes. This was done by pulling a string that had a ring on the end of it. You would put the ring on your finger and then pull it along a drawing of piano-like keyboard. Later versions added a functioning keyboard that also included vibrato by moving side to side. A drawer that included buttons also enabled pitch and timbre modulation,other buttons included transpose and volume. The production of the instrument stopped in 1988, but several conservatories in France and the Montréal Conservatory in Canada still offer instruction to students of the instrument. Some museums and musical stores also will display the instrument for people to see and play it. 

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