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Article

Hugh Davies

(Emerich Walter)

(b Hamburg, Germany, Oct 19, 1909; d ?North Tonawanda, NY, Jan 15, 1987). American designer of electronic instruments and equipment, of German birth. He studied at the University of Hamburg and the Heinrich-Hertz Institut of the Technische Hochschule in Berlin. He pioneered techniques that are now common in synthesizers and other electronic instruments, both to imitate existing instruments and to generate new sounds. He is credited with developing the first modular synthesizer/processor.

While in Germany, he designed the Warbo Formant-Orgel (1937), in which he introduced the “assignment” of notes on a partially polyphonic keyboard. Further developments were made in the Melodium (1938) and the monophonic Melochord (1947–53). He built a series of electronic organs beginning with the Polychord (1950) and the Bode organ (1951); the latter was the basis for the Polychord III (1951) and for electronic organs made in the United States by the Estey Organ Company from ...

Article

Clive Greated

(Maley)

(b Springfield, MA, May 24, 1911; d Wolfeboro, NH, Aug 7, 2009). American violin maker and acoustician. After studying biology at Cornell University (AB 1933) and taking an MA in education, she went on to study violin making with Karl A. Berger (1954–9) and Simone Sacconi (1960–63), and violin acoustics with Frederick A. Saunders of Harvard University (1949–63). Her work on violin design and construction techniques was funded mostly from the sale of her own instruments. She was co-founder of the Catgut Acoustical Society, an organization that co-ordinates and disseminates information on violin acoustics. Hutchins was known internationally for her revolutionary work on the design and construction of the New violin family (or violin octet), a musically successful acoustically-matched consort of eight new instruments of the violin family. She developed two electronic testing methods for violin makers, namely ‘free plate tuning’ for violins before assembling and ‘mode tuning’ for finished instruments, which provide measurable parameters to augment and quantify traditional violin-making techniques. As well as receiving a number of honorary doctorates, in ...

Article

D. Quincy Whitney

(b Springfield, MA, May 24, 1911; d Wolfeboro, NH, Aug 7, 2009). American violinmaker, acoustician, and writer. A trumpeter and biology graduate of Cornell University (AB 1933) and New York University (MA 1942), she left both disciplines to embrace string instruments and acoustical physics. While teaching science and woodworking at the Brearley School, chamber music colleagues convinced her to take up viola. A woodcarver since childhood, Hutchins, at age 35, decided to make a viola. Hutchins then studied luthiery with Karl A. Berger (1949–59) and Stradivari expert Fernando Sacconi. While she and Harvard physicist Frederick A. Saunders performed more than 100 acoustical experiments (1949–63), Hutchins taught herself acoustical physics by making string instruments. In 1963 Hutchins and colleagues Robert Fryxell and John Schelleng founded the Catgut Acoustical Society. She published the CAS journal for more than 30 years, helping bridge the gap between violin makers and acoustical physicists. Hutchins made more than 500 instruments, authored more than 100 technical papers on violin acoustics, and edited ...

Article

Hugh Davies

( 1910–95). French radio engineer and designer of electronic instruments. In Versailles in 1932 he began the research that culminated in 1943 with his first electronic organ, exploring nearly ten methods of sound production. In 1936, in collaboration with the harmonium manufacturer P. Petitqueux, he developed the Mutatone, an electro-acoustic harmonium that used electrostatic pickups to amplify the vibrations of the free reeds; it was demonstrated at St Odile, Paris, in 1939. In 1937 he produced an electric carillon.

After World War II a range of small one- and two-manual electronic organs was manufactured under licence from Martin as ‘Orgues Constant Martin’ (1945–9), including the popular Organium, which has a single splittable manual (the point at which the split occurs can be varied by a selector switch within the range of a minor 3rd). As with all of Martin’s instruments, the sounds are generated by an oscillator for each note. About ...

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

Mark D. Porcaro

(b New York, NY, May 23, 1934; d Asheville, NC, Aug 21, 2005). American designer of electronic instruments. He became interested in electronics during his teens after encountering the theremin. While in high school he provided schematics and descriptions of his own theremin for Electronics World, a hobbyist magazine. After graduating in 1952 he started the R.A. Moog Co. with his father’s help to create and sell mail-order theremin kits from his home. Moog studied physics at Queens College, New York, electrical engineering at Columbia University, and graduated in 1965 with a PhD in engineering physics from Cornell University.

In 1964 Moog worked with the composer Herb Deutsch to create a monophonic synthesizer consisting of a variety of modules of voltage-controlled oscillators, amplifiers, envelope generators, and filters linked together by patch chords and controlled by a keyboard. The Moog synthesizer was the first to use Vladimir Ussachevsky’s envelope generator—known as an attack, decay, sustain, and release envelope—which could shape the timbre of a pitch by modifying its amplitude over time. Moog demonstrated his new instrument at a convention that year for the Audio Engineering Society, where he also took the first orders for his new instrument....

Article

Hugh Davies

revised by Kyle Devine

(b Manhattan, KS, July 7, 1936). American designer of electronic instruments. His name is primarily associated with the range of synthesizers designed by him and manufactured since 1974 by Oberheim Electronics in California. While working as an electronics engineer for a small computer company in the late 1960s, Oberheim was asked to construct a ring modulator, and the success of the original device (on the soundtrack of 1970s Beneath the Planet of the Apes and among jazz keyboardists) led to requests for others. In 1971 Maestro marketed both Oberheim’s ring modulator and his phase shifter; Oberheim Electronics was set up in connection with their production.

In 1973, when he was an agent for ARP synthesizers, Oberheim devised a digital sequencer (DS-2), and the following year his company developed the Synthesizer Expander Module (SEM), a small monophonic synthesizer with two oscillators. The SEM had no keyboard control and was designed not as a standalone unit but, rather, as a tone generator that could work alongside the DS-2 or existing synthesizers like the ARP 2600 and Minimoog....

Article

Hugh Davies

revised by Anne Beetem Acker

(b Straubing, Lower Bavaria, Germany, Jan 24, 1904; d 1986). German physicist, electroacoustic engineer, and instrument inventor. After earning an engineering degree from Ohm-Polytechnikum in Nuremberg and then working at a telegraph firm in Berlin, in 1928 he began working on the development of electronic instruments at the Heinrich-Hertz Institut für Schwingungsforschung at the Technische Hochschule in Berlin, where he completed his doctorate in physics in 1937. In 1938, Vierling began lecturing in physics and electroacoustics in Hanover, becoming a professor in 1944. Beginning in 1941 he conducted weapons, encryption, and communications research. After World War II he designed surveillance devices at a laboratory he created in Ebermannstadt, near Nuremberg, where in 1949 he established his firm as Oskar Vierling GmbH. From 1949 to 1955 he was also a professor of physics at the Fakultäten Theologie und Philosophie of the Universität Bamberg. He held more than 200 patents....