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How old do YOU think Electronic Music is?

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  • jazzpianist
    You d be surprised. Having worked with and studied Moogs in the mid 1970s (yeah, I know - just shaddup), I had some inkling. The first commercially viable home
    Message 1 of 3 , Sep 1, 2010
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      You'd be surprised. Having worked with and studied Moogs in the mid 1970s (yeah, I know - just shaddup), I had some inkling. The first commercially viable home instrument that synthesized music electronically and mechanically was the famous Hammond Organ of the mid 1930s.

      However, I found something older, and I believe it had a predecessor, not just the therumin. Take a look at this MTR article on a fully electronic 32-key keyboard with line-level output only. If you've ever heard some of the mid 1930s radio transcriptions, some of them I believe use the tone generator (completely electronic, not mechanical) that was similar or identical to this keyboard.

      http://tinyurl.com/28sbtv9

      BTW, forget ragtime. It was monophonic only. No polyphony until the Hammond emerged.

      Bill Edwards
    • Bryan Cather
      an all electronic precursor to the electromechanical Hammond Organ was the Hammond Novachord, which used upwards of 60 vacuum tubes to generate a wide variety
      Message 2 of 3 , Sep 1, 2010
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        an all electronic precursor to the electromechanical Hammond Organ was the Hammond Novachord, which used upwards of 60 vacuum tubes to generate a wide variety of sounds, entirely electronically.

        I suppose it was the first commercially marketed keyboard synthesizer.

        Gershwin, Grofe, and others went crazy for it.  Grofe wrote a concerto for four of them, with Orchestra. 

        The only reason I know this is I used to work for a local history museum that had been given one, which we wound up selling to a fellow who was going to do a performance of the Grofe Novachord concerto.  I forget his name.  He already had the number required for the performance, but wanted a backup instrument.  Apparently with the large number of vacuum tubes, they weren't terribly reliable.

        BryanC

        --- On Wed, 9/1/10, jazzpianist <perfbill@...> wrote:

        From: jazzpianist <perfbill@...>
        Subject: [EliteSyncopations] How old do YOU think Electronic Music is?
        To: EliteSyncopations@yahoogroups.com
        Date: Wednesday, September 1, 2010, 5:17 PM

         

        You'd be surprised. Having worked with and studied Moogs in the mid 1970s (yeah, I know - just shaddup), I had some inkling. The first commercially viable home instrument that synthesized music electronically and mechanically was the famous Hammond Organ of the mid 1930s.

        However, I found something older, and I believe it had a predecessor, not just the therumin. Take a look at this MTR article on a fully electronic 32-key keyboard with line-level output only. If you've ever heard some of the mid 1930s radio transcriptions, some of them I believe use the tone generator (completely electronic, not mechanical) that was similar or identical to this keyboard.

        http://tinyurl.com/28sbtv9

        BTW, forget ragtime. It was monophonic only. No polyphony until the Hammond emerged.

        Bill Edwards


      • Andrew
        Bill, that is certainly one of the earliest COMPACT electronic musical instruments (along with the Theremin), but the first two electronic instruments I m
        Message 3 of 3 , Sep 3, 2010
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          Bill, that is certainly one of the earliest COMPACT electronic musical instruments (along with the Theremin), but the first two electronic instruments I'm aware of are the Telharmonium invented by Thaddeus Cahill in the late 1890s, and the Choralcelo, which debuted a few years later, which also had the distinction of being the first commercially sucessful electronic keyboard musical instrument.

          You can read about the Telharmonium here:

          http://120years.net/machines/telharmonium/index.html

          http://www.synthmuseum.com/magazine/0102jw.html

          http://www.discretesynthesizers.com/archives/miessner/em1936.htm

          http://earlyradiohistory.us/1906telh.htm

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telharmonium

          Unfortunately, the three examples of the Telharmonium that were built, were all apparently scrapped. A surviving relative of the inventor tried to interest different museums in the lone surviving instrument in the 1950s, but none were interested (the onset of real popularity of electronic music was a few decades away), so he apparently had it hauled away for scrap metal. How sad!

          What I wouldn't give to have been living back in the early 1950s and have been able to save stuff like this, (also: the gigantic Hupfeld Helios V orchestrion owned by Eugene DeRoy circa 1951, the Weber Elite orchestrion inspected by the Grymonprez family around the same time, the Wurlitzer 166 band organ in Michigan later lost to fire; many the really old QRS masters, (probably) marking-piano output, (probably) manuscripts and (probably) original literature, etc. which were thrown out by the Kortlander family after Max died in 1961, etc etc.; the Scott Joplin manuscripts, Wilbur Sweatman's autobiography, etc.; the entire Victor Camden recordings warehouse which was deliberately blown up (with only some items saved); The many early Columbia master records which were sold for scrap before Miles Kreuger and John Hammond found out and put a stop to it, etc.)

          FORTUNATELY, several examples of the Choralcelo have survived, including a near-mint example in its original installation in Colorado, so hopefully if it (or another one) is restored in the near future, we can hear the full capabilities of the Choralcelo!

          You can read more about the Choralcelo here:

          http://www.amica.org/Live/Publications/Past-Bulletin-Articles/Choralcelo/index.htm

          http://jenkinsw0.tripod.com/

          In the meantime, there IS a nice (partial) recording of one, made in 1942, with Regine Farrington playing "Poor Little Butterfly" (NOT the famous 1916 "Poor Butterfly" by Raymond Hubbell). The instrument sounds very full and has what I would consider a remarkably "pure" tone. Read the article and listen for yourself!:

          http://www.amica.org/Live/Publications/Past-Bulletin-Articles/Choralcelo/cc_58.htm

          http://www.amica.org/Live/Publications/Past-Bulletin-Articles/Choralcelo/choralcelo_audio.mp3

          RAGards,
          Andrew Barrett

          --- In EliteSyncopations@yahoogroups.com, Bryan Cather <catt967@...> wrote:
          >
          > an all electronic precursor to the electromechanical Hammond Organ was the Hammond Novachord, which used upwards of 60 vacuum tubes to generate a wide variety of sounds, entirely electronically.
          >
          > I suppose it was the first commercially marketed keyboard synthesizer.
          >
          > Gershwin, Grofe, and others went crazy for it.  Grofe wrote a concerto for four of them, with Orchestra. 
          >
          > The only reason I know this is I used to work for a local history museum that had been given one, which we wound up selling to a fellow who was going to do a performance of the Grofe Novachord concerto.  I forget his name.  He already had the number required for the performance, but wanted a backup instrument.  Apparently with the large number of vacuum tubes, they weren't terribly reliable.
          >
          > BryanC
          >
          > --- On Wed, 9/1/10, jazzpianist <perfbill@...> wrote:
          >
          > From: jazzpianist <perfbill@...>
          > Subject: [EliteSyncopations] How old do YOU think Electronic Music is?
          > To: EliteSyncopations@yahoogroups.com
          > Date: Wednesday, September 1, 2010, 5:17 PM
          >
          >
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          >  
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          > You'd be surprised. Having worked with and studied Moogs in the mid 1970s (yeah, I know - just shaddup), I had some inkling. The first commercially viable home instrument that synthesized music electronically and mechanically was the famous Hammond Organ of the mid 1930s.
          >
          >
          >
          > However, I found something older, and I believe it had a predecessor, not just the therumin. Take a look at this MTR article on a fully electronic 32-key keyboard with line-level output only. If you've ever heard some of the mid 1930s radio transcriptions, some of them I believe use the tone generator (completely electronic, not mechanical) that was similar or identical to this keyboard.
          >
          >
          >
          > http://tinyurl.com/28sbtv9
          >
          >
          >
          > BTW, forget ragtime. It was monophonic only. No polyphony until the Hammond emerged.
          >
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          >
          > Bill Edwards
          >
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