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Article

Laurence Libin

(b Coleman County, TX, March 18, 1899; d at sea nr Los Angeles, CA, March 30, 1941). American inventor of musical instruments. He was co-founder of the National Stringed Instrument Corporation and the Rickenbacker guitar company. He played the violin and the lap steel (‘Hawaiian’) guitar in vaudeville before settling in Los Angeles, where he worked with John and Rudy Dopyera to develop an acoustically amplified guitar, probably inspired by Stroh models. An early model with a Victrola horn failed, but trials using conical aluminium resonators within a metal guitar body (a prototype of the three-cone Dobro guitar) proved successful and attracted investors. Production of metal-body guitars under the name National soon involved Adolph Rickenbacker’s nearby tool and die shop....

Article

Allison A. Alcorn

(b Elgin, IL, Dec 12, 1899; d Downey, CA, June 7, 1968). American guitar maker and inventor, known as the father of the electric solid-body guitar. Before World War I he was a patternmaker at a machine shop in Los Angeles. After the war he became a motorcycle racer known as ‘P.A.’, a nickname that carried into later life. During World War II, Bigsby designed parts for US Navy ships. As a guitarist, Bigsby played with an amateur country and western band, and in ...

Article

Carvin  

Matthew Hill

Firm of musical instrument manufacturers and distributors, primarily of electric guitars, amplifiers and sound-reinforcement equipment. The company was founded in 1946 in Los Angeles, California by Hawaiian guitarist Lowell C. Kiesel (b Eustis, NE, 22 Feb 1915; d San Diego, 28 Dec 2009) as the L.C. Kiesel Company. In the late 1940s the company relocated to Gothenburg, Nebraska. In ...

Article

Kyle Devine

American manufacturer of electronic keyboards and drum machines. The company was founded in Upland, California, by Harry Chamberlin in the late 1940s. Instead of the electronic circuits and digital processors used to generate sound in most synthesizers, Chamberlins replay the sounds of existing instruments and effects recorded to electromagnetic tape. In using prerecorded sound, Chamberlins are considered forerunners of digital sampling techniques and technologies....

Article

Arian Sheets

An electric sostenente piano developed by Melvin L. Severy (1863–1951), an inventor and author, in Boston, and produced by the Choralcelo Manufacturing Company, founded by Severy and his brother-in-law George B. Sinclair in 1901. The choralcelo employed direct current, in which regular pulses were created with a rheotome, to excite piano strings and other resonating bodies by means of electromagnets. The current was routed to the electromagnets through complicated switching mechanisms operated from a piano keyboard or organ console with rocker switches and pedals. The earliest versions of the instrument resembled large upright pianos. Later versions employed numerous additional groups of resonating bodies, including those made from ferrous bars, ferrous ribbons, wood and aluminum bars with ferrous weights, and additional strings. Electric pulses with a harmonic relationship to the fundamental pitch of a resonating body could be employed to obtain additional tone colors....

Article

A digital synthesizer developed by Sydney Alonso, Cameron Jones, and Jon Appleton in 1972–4; it was superseded by their Synclavier.

See also Electroacoustic music.

Article

British firm of Synthesizer and electronic instrument manufacturers. It was founded in Putney, London, by Peter Zinovieff in 1969, and subsequently owned by Datanomics of Wareham, Dorset (from 1979), the composer Edward Williams (from 1982), and Robin Wood (from 1995). Since the 1980s it has been based near Truro, Cornwall. The company’s best-known product is the Putney or VCS-3. ...

Article

Thomas Brett

An electronic percussion instrument whose sound is synthesized or that stores and reproduces the sounds of sampled percussion instruments. It may be played on non-acoustic controllers that resemble conventional percussion instruments and are equipped with a touch-sensitive trigger that detects and converts mechanical energy into electrical signals. Alternatively, it may be controlled by an electronic rhythm machine, or played through virtual drum machine software. The earliest electronic percussion instrument was the Rhythmicon (...

Article

Laurence Libin

American manufacturer and brand of acoustic and electric guitars, other plucked string instruments, and electric guitar accessories. The company originated in 1873 in Smyrna, Turkey, where the Greek immigrant Kostantinos Stathopoulo opened a store selling and repairing string instruments. His son Anastasios opened an independent workshop about ...

Article

Farfisa  

Hugh Davies and Brandon Smith

Italian company of instrument makers. It was founded about 1870 in Ancona to manufacture free-reed instruments, including piano accordions and reed organs. The modern Farfisa company (from FAbbriche Riunite di FISArmoniche, ‘United Accordion Factories’) of Castelfidardo/Camerano was founded in 1946 by Silvio Scandalli, Settimio Soprani (brother of Paolo Soprani), and the Frontalini Accordion Co. of Chicago. Farfisa revolutionized the mass production of accordions by replacing assembly lines with specialized departments producing components that were then assembled into completed instruments. In ...

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

Laurence Libin

(b Cincinnati, OH, Sept 20, 1953). American artist, musician, and self-taught experimental instrument builder, active in Cincinnati. He has been called the ‘father of circuit bending’, a process he discovered and named in 1966 or 1967 when a toy 9-volt transistor amplifier shorted out in his desk drawer, emitting a strange electronic sound. Ghazala derived the noun ‘circuit bending’ from ‘mind bending’, a popular 1960s locution. The process of circuit bending arose from his observation of the original amplifier’s accidental transformation into an oscillator; aleatoric processes remain central to his work in other media as well (e.g. mobiles and dye-migration photography). He also coined the term ‘BEAsape’, or ‘BioElectronicAudiosapien’, reflecting the use of a human body as a variable resistor within a circuit. In most of his bent instruments the sonic output is unpredictable, but he has also designed original circuits following standard protocols, as for his Photon Clarinet and various insect- and human-voice synthesizers; not all produce random sounds....

Article

Hugh Davies

(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 ...

Article

Hugh Davies

(d France, 1927). French researcher into electronic sound systems and inventor of an early electronic organ, the photoelectric Hugoniot organ. From the end of World War I Hugoniot systematically explored and improved on all the electronic sound-generating and -recording methods known at the time, starting in ...

Article

Korg  

Hugh Davies

Japanese firm of electronic instrument manufacturers. It was founded in Tokyo in 1963 by Tsutomu Katoh and the accordion player Tadashi Osanai as Keio Geijutsu Kenkyujo. From 1968 the firm became known as Keio Electronic Laboratories; although they used the brand-name Korg (‘Katoh-Osanai organ’) on the products, this became the company's official name only in the mid-1980s. Keio began by constructing rhythm units for Yamaha's Electone electronic organs, then produced its own separate units, the Doncamatic rhythm machine followed by the MiniPops series. Korg soon became one of the most successful Japanese manufacturers of electronic instruments, and produced the first Japanese synthesizer in ...

Article

Sarah Deters Richardson

(b Queens, NY, 1948). American manufacturer of digital synthesizers, computer scientist, author, and inventor. In 1965, he built a computer that composed original melodies using pattern recognition; it analyzed patterns in musical compositions and then created original melodies based on these patterns. This invention won him First Prize at the International Science Fair and national attention. He founded Kurzweil Computer Products in ...

Article

Lipp  

Hugh Davies, William Jurgenson and Anne Beetem Acker

German firm of keyboard instrument makers. It was founded in Stuttgart in 1831 by Richard Lipp (1805–74), who had apprenticed with Haug and thereafter was a journeyman for other Stuttgart builders. At some point the firm became known as Richard Lipp & Sohn, when presumably a son came into partnership who continued the business after his father’s death, but documentation is lacking. Two 6½-octave rosewood square pianos were exhibited at the Great Exhibition of ...

Article

Hugh Davies

(b Cropsey, IL, Jan 9, 1886; d Chicago, IL, Sept 14, 1943). American musician and pioneer in the development of the electric guitar. He studied music at Oberlin College and for several years performed professionally on string instruments under management of the Chicago Musical Bureau. From ...

Article

Tony Bacon

British amplifier manufacturer. After requests from British rock guitarists and bass players who needed an affordable amplifier capable of high sound levels, the drum teacher and music shop owner Jim Marshall teamed up with his service engineer Ken Bran in 1962 to produce a British-made musical instrument amplifier based on the Californian-made Fender Bassman. Marshall and Bran’s amplifiers were soon developed into the famous ‘Marshall stack’, consisting of an amplifier head containing the valves, circuitry and controls sitting on top of two ‘four-by-twelve’ cabinets, each containing four Celestion 12-inch (30·48 cm) loudspeakers. Delivering 50 watts RMS and frequently more, the ‘stacks’ provided exactly the sort of high power demanded by emerging players such as Pete Townshend of The Who and Jimi Hendrix. Players such as these were playing electric guitars through Marshall amplifiers at increasingly extreme volume levels in the late 1960s as venues became larger and outdoor festivals more popular. Marshall also produced ‘combo’ amplifiers which combined the amplifier and loudspeakers within one cabinet. Building on the fame of their early innovations, Marshall has become a leading supplier of equipment wherever high quality and high volume amplification is required....

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 ...