Flashcards in Keyboard Instruments Deck (24):
Who invented the Telharmonium and when?
Thaddeus Cahill at about 1895
How did the Telharmonium work?
It used rotating electromagnetic generators (tonewheels) to produce electric impulses that were transmitted through wires to a series of loudspeakers (telephone receivers)
What instruments did the Telharmonium emulate?
Flutes, bassoons, clarinets and also the cello.
Why was the Telharmonium abandoned?
The instrument’s size, weight, power consumption and huge price ($200,000 - equivalent to $5.8 million today). Also, it could not produce sounds of any magnitude since amplifier and loudspeakers had not yet been invented.
Was the Telharmonium monophonic or polyphonic?
Who invented the Theremin?
Léon Theremin, a Russian inventor and professor of acoustics
How did the Theremin work?
- The Theremin has one plate of the capacitor (antenna) and the other plate is the hand.
- Closer together means more charge & the current oscillates at a lower frequency
- Further apart means less charge & the current oscillates at a higher frequency
- This current has the ability to vibrate the speaker and create sound waves
- The current would have a frequency around 250kHz, so the current cannot be sent straight to the speaker
- The Theremin does something called ‘Heterodyning’: when you mix two currents together in order to change their frequencies
- The theremin mixes an oscillating current with another pre-set current (produced inside the theremin)
- The current is then amplified and sent to a speaker
- The volume control converts frequencies into volume instead of pitch
How does a capacitor work?
This is a device that can store electric charge.
1. It’s made up of two plates that can conduct electricity, with something in between them (called the dielectric)
2. When there’s a current, the electrons want to flow between the plates but are blocked by the dielectric.
3. So instead, the electrons get stuck on one side of the capacitor, negative charge on one side and positive on the other, keeps building up.
4. These electrons eventually change directions and head down the wire to the other side of the capacitor.
5. This pattern continues with the electrons going back and forth, which creates an alternating current that oscillates at a certain rate or frequency.
How is the Theremin played?
- Heterodyning switches the order of frequencies: higher becomes lower & lower becomes higher.
- The speaker produces higher notes when your hand is closer to the theremin
- And lower notes when your hand is further away from the theremin
Is the Theremin polyphonic or monophonic?
Who invented the Ondes Martenot and when?
Maurice Martenot, invented in the 1920s
How is it similar to the Theremin?
The two Instruments have the same core principle - two radio waves oscillating at different frequencies, are played concurrently to produce an audible harmonic - and both were unveiled in the late 1920s. They were played in a similar way: the theremin with a hand wafted before an antenna the Andres Martenot with a ring drawn along the ribbon.
What are some of the Ondes Martenot’s characteristics?
The addition of a keyboard - with keys that can be wiggled to add vibrato - enabled far greater precision. A cluster of buttons - like organ stops - allows the performer to switch between different timbres, from white noise to a crystal clear sine wave. By the 1950s, Martenot had destined three baroque loudspeakers or ‘siffuseurs’ (one is shaped like a lyre; another is a resonant gong, which produces a metallic timbre).
Is the Ondes Martenot monophonic or polyphonic?
What are some songs in which the Hammond is used?
- Gimme Some Loving by Spencer Davis Group
- The House of the Rising Sun by The Animals
- Your Time is Gonna Come by Led Zeppelin
How does the Hammond Organ work?
Hammond allocated nine mechanical wheels to each side on the keyboard, and then added a series of ‘drawback’ controllers that could fade in or out any of the frequencies created by the different tonewheels, allowing millions of potential combinations.
1. A motor rotates a shaft that has a series of tonewheels, that resemble circular saw blades.
2. As they pass close to the pickup, the rapidly rotating teeth of the tonewheel generate an electric current that produces a particular pitch.
3. In addition to the fundamental tonewheels the Hammond Organ had tonewheels for upper and lower harmonics, which could be mixed by using drawbacks.
What are the main characteristics of the Hammond Organ?
1. The Hammond has a ‘percussion’ feature which was popular with jazz and rock musicians.
2. Enabling the percussion adds a short duration overtone, when any key from the upper manual is played.
3. The duration of the harmonic can be adjusted
4. It can either be the Second Harmonic (an octave above) or the Third Harmonic (a fifth above the octave)
5. The overtone enhances the attack of the note
Who invented the Hammond Organ and when?
Laurens Hammond and John Hanert in 1935
Why was the Hammond Organ created?
To substitute the pipe organs
What kind of an instrument was the mellotron?
The mellotron is an an electro-mechanical polyphonic tape replay keyboard.
Who invented the mellotron and when?
Eric Robinson and David Nixon, in 1963
How does the Mellotron work?
1. When a key is pressed, a tape connected to it is pushed against a playback head, like a tape recorder.
2. While the key is depressed, the tape is drawn over the head, and a sound is played.
3. When the key is released, a spring pulls the tape back to its origins position.
Name a few key features of the Mellotron.
1. The keyboard is divided in ‘lead’ and ‘rhythm’ sections.
2. There is a choice of 6 ‘stations’, each containing 3 rhythm/lead tracks and 3 fill tracks that can be mixed.
3. Tuning button: allows for variation in both pitch and tempo