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Article

Herbert Heyde

This article discusses trends in organizing the production of European instruments from the 15th century to the mid-19th.

During the 15th century European instrument making entered a new phase with the rise of polyphonic instrumental music. Previously, folk and minstrel instruments had been made mostly by the players themselves. The intricacies of polyphonic music and the social context in which sophisticated instruments such as clavichords, trombones, lutes, and viols were played demanded craft refinement and specialization. The professional traditions of organ building and bell founding provided precedents upon which the new branches of trade could build. While the production of folk instruments continued as it had previously, the new, commercial approach to instrument making gradually evolved into two major forms, which were first observable in the processes of both bell founding and organ building. These forms were small craft-workshops and entrepreneurial businesses. These two forms sometimes intersected; small workshops would sometimes grow and develop into entrepreneurial businesses....

Article

(fl Russia, mid-16th century). Russian bell and cannon founder. Of unknown origin, Ganusov might have come from Germany or the Grand Duchy of Lithuania to Moscow, where in the mid-16th century he worked at the court of Ivan the Terrible. A very large bell cast at the Moscow cannon foundry in 1550 has been tentatively credited to him; it has not survived. Presumably before 1564 he moved to Smolensk, where a cannon bearing his name or names of his apprentices survived into the 19th century. Ganusov is not named in documents after the late 1560s. His apprentices included Bogdan Andreytokhov, Yuri Bochkaryov, Semyon Dubinin (who moved to Pskov), Nikita Tupitsyn, and most famously Andrei Chokhov (Chekhov) (c1545–1629), whose castings in Moscow included many famous pieces of artillery and other massive bronze armaments as well as bells. Boris Godunov donated two of Chokov’s bells, cast in ...

Article

Anne Beetem Acker

(b Bermuda, July 10, 1957). American audio engineer, musician, and owner of Keith McMillen Instruments, based in Berkeley, California. He received his BS in acoustics from the University of Illinois, where he also studied classical guitar and composition. In 1979 he founded Zeta Music, which designed and sold electric and electronic violins and basses. In 1992 he organized a research laboratory for Gibson Guitars. He developed a computerized composition, notation, and performance system, and also helped devise ZIPI, a MIDI-like music control language. At the Center for New Music and Audio Technologies at the University of California, Berkeley, he researched audio networking, synthesizers, and string instruments. In 1996 he became director of engineering for the audio processing and distributed music networks division of Harmon Kardon. In 1999 he founded Octiv, Inc., an Internet audio signal processing company, which produced the ‘Volume Logic’ plug-in for iTunes that allows digital audio remastering to improve the sound produced by computers and MP3 players....

Article

Anne Beetem Acker

Term for any device, mechanism, or means by which a player controls an instrument. It embraces keys and keyboards, valves, mouthpieces, bows, plectra, beaters, ribbon controllers, joysticks, touchscreens, other computer input devices and displays running control software, and any other intermediary between player and instrument (real or virtual) giving the player control of the sound-producing elements....

Article

(b Luxembourg, Aug 16, 1884; d New York, Aug 19, 1967). American writer, publisher, and inventor. In 1904 he emigrated to America, where in 1908 he founded the first of a series of radio magazines (including Radio-Craft) which he wrote for and edited. He later turned to science fiction magazines (from ...

Article

Hugh Davies

(M.Y. de P. )

(b Rheims, France, 1899; d La Varenne St-Hilaire, St-Maur-des-Fossés, France, Nov 9, 1963). French engineer and physicist. He was one of the pioneers of electronic instruments and especially of the electronic organ in the 1920s and early 1930s; some of his instruments were constructed in collaboration with the organ builder Edouard Eloi Coupleux. In 1917 or 1918, while working in the radio laboratory at the Eiffel Tower in Paris (at the same time as Maurice Martenot and Joseph Béthenod), Givelet first conceived the idea of electronic instruments based on the pitches that could be produced and varied by placing one’s hand near or on certain components in a radio receiver. His idea for a dial-operated instrument (similar to the later Dynaphone and Ondium Péchadre) was not followed up until the mid-1920s, when he returned to studying the possibilities of electronic instruments.

Givelet’s first completed electronic instrument, the monophonic keyboard ...

Article

Laurence Libin

(b ?1857; d Petrograd, Russia, Aug 22, 1916). Russian luthier, developer of the modern balalaika. He has been called the ‘Russian Stradivarius’. His life is not reliably documented; some sources place his birth in the 1870s. An unschooled peasant but gifted woodworker, he had been apprenticed to a carpenter in Vologda province. It is said that, intending to seek work in St Petersburg, he was able to travel only as far as Eremkovo, where he worked for two years as a carpenter and began to make balalaikas, assembling the bodies from pieces of wood rather than carving them. His work attracted the attention of V.V. Andreyev (1861–1918), a virtuoso performer and reviver of Russian folk instruments, who in 1890 persuaded Nalimov to start a balalaika workshop near his home in Márino. Supposedly, Nalimov began using maple taken from the door and window jambs of Andreyev’s house. With Andreyev’s encouragement Nalimov built about 170 balalaikas in a family of sizes as well as many other string instruments during the following 20 years. With his salary from Andreyev he was able to buy a house opposite Andreyev’s manor. In ...

Article

Timo Leisiö

[Feodor Safronoff ]

(b Soikkola, Russian West Ingria, Nov 7, 1886; d Helsinki, Finland, Jan 5, 1962). Ingrian musician and instrument maker who became a symbol of Finnish folk music. As a boy on the southeastern shore of the Gulf of Finland he worked as a shepherd during several summers and learned to make and play local flutes (soittu), trumpets (wooden torvi, truba), and the Baltic psaltery (kantele). Being an orphan he lacked social status, and therefore emigrated to Finland in 1913. During World War I he played the french horn in a Russian army band. After Finland gained independence, in 1917, he settled there, changed his name Feodor Safronoff to Teppo Repo, and worked as a policeman and later as a mechanic (chiefly employed by the Singer sewing machine company); instrument making was always a part-time occupation. After starting to play Ingrian music in Helsinki he was recruited as an entertainer by patriotic forces in the early 1930s, and soon performed across Finland and abroad; his improvised melodies represented to his public the folk music of all Finnic peoples (Estonians, Karelians, Finns, etc.) even though his style was based on the music of his childhood and not truly representative of other national traditions. His flutes, horns, and trumpets, of which he made and sold an unknown number, can be found in museums from Japan to the USA. Some represent 19th-century Ingrian traditions foreign to Finland; others are of widespread European types. His straight and curved ...

Article

Laurence Libin

(b Bronx, NY, Oct 22, 1946). American luthier, notable for handmade archtop jazz guitars. In childhood he learned woodworking from his father, a skilled cabinetmaker, and music from an uncle, a violinist; his grandfather had worked for Steinway & Sons. A visit to the Gretsch guitar factory in Brooklyn fueled his interest in the instrument; he played a Chet Atkins model 6120 guitar from 1960 to 1968. Upon discharge from the US Air Force in 1968 he started to make his first guitar and began repairing Gibson, D’Angelico, and New York Epiphone instruments. At the time he was the youngest and least experienced archtop maker of a group that included William Barker, Carl Barney, Roger Borys, James D’Aquisto, Sam Koontz, and Philip Petillo. In the 1970s jazz guitarists such as Bucky Pizzarelli, Chuck Wayne, and Martin Taylor began to use and endorse Benedetto’s instruments. He incorporated his business as Benedetto Guitars, Inc., but in ...

Article

Richard Johnston

Guitar, mandolin, and ukulele manufacturer. It was founded in Houston, Texas, in 1976, by Bill Collings (b Aug 9, 1948; d Austin, TX, July 14, 2017), who had moved from Ohio to Texas following a failed attempt at medical school. After building a few guitars and some banjos, Collings moved to Austin in 1979. His background as a machinist led him to emphasize precise jigs and fixtures even when he was working out of a small single-car garage. Demand for Collings guitars, specifically for updated versions of Martin and Gibson flat-top styles from the 1930s, prompted his move to a 1,000-square-foot shop in 1989. Two woodworkers were hired, including Bruce Van Wart, who is still in charge of wood selection and top voicing on the firm’s acoustic guitars. By this time, production had increased to a level that allowed sales to a few retailers.

In late 1991 the company relocated to a much larger facility on the outskirts of Austin, and the number of Collings guitar models, and employees, began to grow. Bill Collings was one of the first flat-top guitar builders to offer fully carved arch-top models as well. These deluxe jazz guitars were quickly accepted as the equals of those from premier American builders, and they sold for similar prices; but only a few were completed each year. Collings was also one of the first small, independent guitar companies to incorporate CNC (computer numerical control) carving machines for building both guitar parts and the precise tooling to aid in their assembly, which is still done by hand. One of the signature differences between the Collings models and the Gibson and Martin originals that inspired them is that Collings uses an unglued bolted mortise and tenon neck joint, rather than a traditional dovetail....