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Ableton  

Brandon Smith

Music production software company based in Berlin, with a branch in New York. Ableton (Ableton AG) was founded in 1999 by Gerhard Behles, Robert Henke, and Bernd Roggendorf. Its main product is a computer program called Live, which was released in 2001. This is a digital audio workstation (DAW) environment for recording audio and MIDI with an emphasis on working in real time, essentially allowing the user to play the software as an instrument. Practically any operation can be controlled via MIDI. Since its introduction, Live has become popular among electronic music artists for its ability to allow spontaneous manipulation of audio in a performance situation. Many manufacturers of MIDI controllers have developed control surfaces for Live, bridging the gap between software and hardware....

Article

Hugh Davies

Electronic organ, several models of which were developed by Heinz Ahlborn (formerly a designer (1951–4) with Apparatewerk Bayern), and (from the mid-1960s) by Otto Riegg; it has been manufactured by Ahlborn-Orgel GmbH in Heimerdingen, near Stuttgart, from 1955. Like companies in several other countries, Ahlborn fought a long legal battle for the right to use the word ‘organ’ in the name of its instruments (‘Elektronenorgel’); after ten years the suit was resolved in the company’s favour in ...

Article

Hugh Davies

An Electronic organ designed by Jerome Markowitz (1917–91) between 1937 and 1939, and manufactured from 1939 in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and from 1953 in nearby Macungie. The Allen Organ Co. was founded in 1945; besides many models of the organ, it has manufactured two electronic harpsichords (introduced in ...

Article

Hugh Davies

A polyphonic digital synthesizer manufactured by the Syntauri Corp. of Palo Alto, California, from about 1981 until the company closed in 1984. It was the first electronic instrument based on a home computer, the widely used Apple II microcomputer; this made the AlphaSyntauri relatively inexpensive. It consisted of an eight-voice, polyphonic, four- or five-octave, velocity-sensitive keyboard and plug-in circuit boards that were inserted in the Apple II. The designers made the AlphaSyntauri software flexible and accessible to counteract some of the limitations of common hardware synthesizers of the time, and it was arguably one of the first true ‘softsynths’ (software synthesizers). As many as eight synchronized tracks could be recorded by the sequencer memory and played back at variable speeds. A music education course, MusicMaster, was designed for use on the AlphaSyntauri....

Article

Hugh Davies

An electrical circuit which increases the strength of its input, and normally acts as an interface between an otherwise incompatible input and output. Certain hi-fi systems and large-scale amplification installations feature separate power amplifiers, which drive one or more loudspeakers, and preamplifiers, which boost and match the different electrical characteristics of a variety of inputs; preamplifiers are otherwise incorporated into other devices, such as mixing consoles and stereophonic hi-fi amplifiers. At its simplest the amplification chain can be seen as microphone (or other source)–amplifier–loudspeaker. The rock music ‘amp’ (combination unit or ‘combo’) consists of a portable loudspeaker cabinet containing an appropriate power amplifier and preamplifier. ...

Article

ANS  

Hugh Davies and Andrei Smirnov

Photoelectric composition machine (named from the initials of Aleksandr Nikolayevich Skryabin) developed from about 1950 in Moscow by Evgeny Murzin (c1913–70). The idea for such a machine dated back to 1938, when Murzin visited the acoustician Boris Yankovsky, who had collaborated in experiments on graphic sound with Arseny Avraamov and soon afterwards worked with Evgeny Sholpo in Leningrad on his composition machine, the Variophon. The ANS was remarkably close to the concept of the Mechanical Orchestra, a sound synthesis machine proposed by Sholpo in ...

Article

Hugh Davies and Anne Beetem Acker

Microcomputer designed by Steve Jobs (b San Francisco, 25 Feb 1955; d Palo Alto, 5 Oct 2011) with Steve Wozniak (b San Jose, CA, 11 Aug 1950) and manufactured in various versions from 1977 until 1993 by Apple Computer Inc. of Cupertino, California. It has been widely used in musical and other contexts. The Apple II consists of a single box for the logic circuitry (based on the MOS 6502 microprocessor) with an integral alphanumeric keyboard, and attached peripherals typically including a visual display unit, two disc drives, a printer, and joysticks. The original Apple II included a monophonic speaker and one-bit sound capability that could be made to sound like two or three simultaneous voices....

Article

Apps  

Anne Beetem Acker

Specialized software programs that can be downloaded and run on handheld electronic devices including tablet computers and some mobile phones. Inexpensive apps have been developed that enable host devices to function as musical instruments (e.g. Ocarina, Pocket Guitar, Pianist, Pocket Shaker), radios (Pandora, Sirus Jango, Tuner Internet Radio), music players (iTunes, Google Music), sound mixers (DJ Mixer Pro, Audio Core Mixer), sequencers (Guitar Sequencer, BeatMaker), synthesizers (Moog Filtatron), effects creators, (AmpliTube, Sonic Vox), recorders (Pro Studio), DJ Scratch tools (MixMeister Scratch), and provide ‘toolkits’ such as chord dictionaries for various instruments (ChordMaster). Apps have been supplanting specialized devices such as mechanical and digital metronomes (iBeat) and electronic tuning aids (Cleartune)....

Article

Anne Beetem Acker

Experimental electronic instrument designed at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile by Claudio Bertin, Gabriel de Ioannes, Alvaro Sylleros, Rodrigo Cádiz, and Patricio de la Cuadra. First described publicly in 2010, it has an interface that responds to the user’s natural gestures, improves the audience observation experience, is easy to master, and allows exploration of tonal and rhythmic possibilities. The novel design methodology centred on formal analysis of video recordings of a focus group discussing characteristics of instruments and performance, as well as of video recordings of individual gestural responses to eight categories of sounds of diverse timbre, pitch, and dynamics. The results were used to describe the characteristics of the instrument being designed and to create mock-ups that led to the Arcontinuo. The instrument’s playing surface resembles a curved board that is placed vertically on the performer’s chest, with straps securing it over the shoulders and a prop resting against the player’s stomach. The board’s flexible magnetic surface measures three-dimensional data from several fingers simultaneously, using an embedded grid of Hall effect sensors. Software interprets the results to produce the sounds....

Article

Term used to describe the system adopted in partially polyphonic electronic keyboard instruments to determine which of several keys depressed at any one time shall give rise to a signal. Partially polyphonic instruments are those in which two or more sounds (usually no more than 16) can be generated simultaneously; if more keys are held down at once than the instrument has ‘voices’, the assignment system causes a certain selection of keys (the highest, lowest, latest, etc.) to generate sounds....