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Article

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.

Live is equally suited to arranging and production applications, with abilities similar to those of other popular recording platforms such as Cubase and Pro Tools. It can run in tandem with most other DAW systems using the ReWire protocol by Steinberg Media Technologies (the creators of Cubase), allowing Live and other programs to share audio and MIDI information with a host DAW. In many ways Live has redefined the role software and computers in general have had in music creation and production. It was among the first programs able automatically to ‘beat match’ (synchronize audio files with different tempos). An integrated Max/MSP platform (a visual programming language) allows users to program their own virtual instruments by linking together pre-made blocks or ‘objects’. Ableton also produces virtual instrument plug-ins and libraries of samples for their Live platform....

Article

Barbara Owen

American organ building firm. It was formed in 1931 when the firm of Ernest M(artin) Skinner & Co. acquired the organ department of the Aeolian Co., which had made its reputation building organs with self-playing mechanisms for private houses, changing its name to Aeolian-Skinner. In 1933 there was a reorganization in which G(eorge) Donald Harrison, who had joined Skinner in 1927, became technical director and Skinner’s activities were curtailed. In the same year Skinner, after increasing disagreement with Harrison over tonal matters, began a new company in Methuen, Massachusetts, with his son, Richmond, who had purchased the former Methuen Organ Co. factory and Serlo Hall the previous year.

During the 1930s the Aeolian-Skinner Co. continued to rise in popularity, and in 1940 Harrison became president, succeeding Arthur Hudson Marks (1874–1939), a wealthy businessman who had become its owner and president in 1919. Under Harrison the firm became a leader in the trend away from orchestral tonal practices and towards a more classical sound. It was Harrison who coined the term ‘American Classic’ to refer to this more eclectic type of tonal design. On his death, Joseph S. Whiteford (...

Article

Cynthia Adams Hoover

American firm of piano makers. Charles Albright (Albrecht by 1864) is listed in Philadelphia city directories from 1863. He was in partnership with Frederick Riekes (as Albrecht & Riekes, 1864–5), with Riekes and Richard T. Schmidt (as Albrecht, Riekes & Schmidt, 1866–74), and with Riekes and Edmund Wolsieffer (as Albrecht & Co., ...

Article

Cynthia Adams Hoover

American firm of piano makers. Charles Albright (Albrecht by 1864) is listed in Philadelphia city directories from 1863. He was in partnership with Frederick Riekes (as Albrecht & Riekes, 1864–5), with Riekes and Richard T. Schmidt (as Albrecht, Riekes & Schmidt, 1866–74), and with Riekes and Edmund Wolsieffer (as Albrecht & Co., ...

Article

Article

Andover  

Barbara Owen

American firm of organ builders. It was founded in 1955 by Thomas W. Byers and Charles Brenton Fisk in North Andover, Massachusetts. It moved shortly afterwards to Methuen, Massachusetts, and in 1961 to Gloucester, Massachusetts, being renamed C.B. Fisk, Inc. A new Andover Organ Co. was formed in Methuen by two former employees, Leo Constantineau (b Lawrence, MA, 1 Nov 1924; d North Andover, MA, 1 Feb 1979) and Robert J. Reich (b Urbana, IL, 15 Dec 1929). Beginning modestly with rebuilding and restoration work, the firm soon began attracting contracts for new organs such as that for St John’s Lutheran Church, Northfield, Minnesota (1965). This organ, like several subsequent instruments, was designed by Constantineau and voiced and finished by Reich. In this same period a small continuo positive was designed, several examples of which have been built. The firm later became a multiple partnership with Robert Reich as president, Donald Olson as vice-president, and Donald Reich as treasurer. In ...

Article

Barbara Owen

American firm of organ builders. Carl Barckhoff (b Wiedenbrück, Westphalia, Germany, 1849; d Basic, VA, April 16, 1919) was trained as an organ builder in Germany, presumably by his father, Felix (d 1878), and emigrated with his father and brother Lorenz to the USA, where they established a family firm, Felix Barckhoff & Sons, in Philadelphia about 1865. In 1878 the firm, under Carl’s direction, moved to near Pittsburgh and in 1881 to Salem, Ohio, where 54 workers were employed by 1889. The firm moved in 1895 to Mendelssohn (now Clairton), Pennsylvania, and after a fire in 1897 to Latrobe, Pennsylvania; in 1900 it moved again, to Pomeroy, Ohio, where Carl Barckhoff married about 1907. Following bankruptcy in 1908, a final move was made in 1913 to Basic, Virginia, where factories were built to make both church and theatre organs (including self-playing models). Reportedly, August Klann moved his organ supply business (founded in ...

Article

Laurence Libin

(Delmetia )

(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.

From the mid-1920s Beauchamp also experimented with electrical amplification of guitars (including lap steel and bass guitars) and violins of unconventional shape, without normal resonators but using simple phonograph pickups. After his collaboration with the Dopyeras ended, in ...

Article

Laurence Libin

Registered trademark for sets of tuned percussion tubes. The tubes, made of coloured, radially flexible plastic, are of graduated length and pitch and produce sounds when hit against surfaces (including the human body), against one another, or by striking the tubes with mallets. An optional cap fitted to a tube lowers its pitch one octave; caps on both ends allow a tube to enclose rattling pellets. The descriptive name (‘boom’ plus ‘whacker’) was coined by Craig Ramsell, who invented the instruments in California in ...

Article

Geoffrey Burgess

American makers of historic oboes. The craftsman Jonathan Bosworth (b Ithaca, NY, 18 June 1938) and oboist Stephen Hammer (b Rochester, NY, 14 April 1951) worked in partnership copying historical double-reed instruments from 1975 to 2002. Their first copy was of an oboe by Thomas Stanesby Sr, then in the possession of Dr Robert M. Rosenbaum. This was followed by copies of oboes by various 18th-century makers, including Thomas Stanesby Jr, J. Denner, Charles Bizey, William Milhouse, C.A., Heinrich Grenser, and J.F. Floth; oboes d’amore by Denner and J.H. Eichentopf; an oboe da caccia by Eichentopf; a tenor oboe by J.C. Denner; and shawms after anonymous specimens (in B.B.mim and CZ.P.nm). Working out of Acton, Massachusetts, they also began designing their own hybrid ‘Saxon’ model patterned after several original oboes from Dresden and Leipzig makers. Production of this model was subsequently transferred to Joel Robinson of New York. By the time their partnership ceased, Bosworth & Hammer had made more than 300 instruments....

Article

Barbara Owen

American manufacturers of reed organs. The firm was founded circa 1846–1850 in New York by Jeremiah Carhart and Elias Parkman Needham. Carhart had previously learned the trade from George A. Prince of Buffalo, and is credited with the development of the suction bellows system that would distinguish American reed organs from their European counterparts, using the term “melodeon” to designate such instruments. Carhart’s patent of the suction system was the first on record, and for some time he was able to receive royalties from other firms using it, until competitors were able to prove that use of the suction system by others had predated his patent. He eventually patented other improvements in the design and manufacture of reed organs, and his machine for producing reed cells helped to open the door to the concept of mass production in the entire reed organ industry. Carhart & Needham manufactured both complete reed organs and reeds to sell to other makers. By ...

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 1949, Kiesel moved back to the Los Angeles area and renamed the company “Carvin,” after his two eldest sons Carson and Gavin. The company has relocated and expanded several times during its existence; to Baldwin Park in the early 1950s, Covina in 1956, Escondido in 1975, and to San Diego in 1995.

The company began by marketing electric guitar pickups of Kiesel’s design, but soon expanded to selling complete instruments (mostly Hawaiian guitars), and amplifiers. In 1954, the company began extensive mail-order sales, featuring Spanish and Hawaiian electric guitars, double-neck instruments, electric guitar kits, electronic components for musical instruments, and even accordions. At various times in the 1950s and 60s, catalogs featured not only the company’s own offerings, but instruments and accessories made by Fender, Martin, Bigsby, and DeArmond. In addition to consumer sales, Carvin also made electric guitar pickups for other manufacturers, notably those found in early Mosrite instruments....

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.

Harry Chamberlin’s first device, the Rhythmate (considered one of the first drum machines) used a series of dials and switches to play back fourteen looped drum patterns. Later designs, such as the Model 200 (1950s) and the M1 (1970s), used a conventional keyboard to activate the tape mechanism. Instead of tape loops, these keyboard models used tape strips that played for several seconds before automatically rewinding. Using tape strips allowed the initial attack of the instrument to be heard.

Sales were sizeable but never enormous: several hundred Chamberlins were produced during the company’s lifespan (...

Article

Cynthia Adams Hoover

American firm of piano makers. Jonas Chickering (b Mason, NH, 5 April 1797; d Boston, MA, 8 Dec 1853) had apprenticeships with cabinetmakers in New Ipswich, New Hampshire, and Boston, and from 1819 to 1823 with the Boston piano maker John Osborne. He formed a partnership in 1823 with the British maker James Stewart; they built about 100 pianos in Boston until 1826, when Stewart returned to London. Chickering then built about 30 to 40 pianos a year until 1830, when he joined in partnership with the wealthy Boston shipping merchant John Mackay. The infusion of capital allowed Chickering to improve and increase the manufacture of square, cabinet upright, and by 1840 grand pianos (in 1839 his firm made over 580 pianos), while Mackay expanded markets for the instruments in American and foreign ports. By 1837 Chickering had developed a one-piece cast-iron frame (patented 1840) for the square piano that improved on a design of Alpheus Babcock, who was then working for Chickering. By ...

Article

Hugh Davies

[Connsonata]

Electronic organ originally designed by Earle L. Kent (who later developed the electronic music box) and manufactured in a large number of models by C.G. Conn of Elkhart, Indiana, from about 1947. It was known until the mid-1950s as the Connsonata. The organs were later made in Carol Stream, Illinois, and from about 1960 to 1979 in Madison, Indiana. The Conn company was purchased in 1969 by the publisher Crowell-Collier & Macmillan, Inc., and organ production was taken over from 1980 by the Kimball Piano & Organ Co., which later closed the operation in the face of competition from digital organs.

Conn organs normally have two manuals and pedals, and they range from church and theatre organs with traditional consoles to home organs, including several of the ‘spinet’ design in which two manuals (each usually having 44 notes) are staggered by one octave. The Model 700, introduced in 1955, originally had two 61-note manuals and 25 pedals, later increased to 32 pedals. Exceptionally, some of the theatre organs and the Theatrette spinet have three manuals, and other large instruments were customised, usually by combining features of of existing models. The sounds are generated by a single oscillator for each note (the first model contained 166 oscillators). Some models include an additional Leslie tremulant loudspeaker. Advances in electronic technology from about ...

Article

Brandon Smith

American manufacturer of synthesizer modules, based in Glendale, California. The company was founded in 2002 by Cynthia Webster, an electronic music artist and synthesizer module designer. While in high school in the 1970s, Webster bought an ARP 2600 synthesizer and soon thereafter went to study with Jim Michmerhuizen (author of the ARP 2600 user’s manual) at the Boston School of Electronic Music; she then studied electronic music at San Francisco State University and Mills College. In 1976, she founded Synapse (1976–9), a magazine dedicated to electronic music. After a hiatus from electronic music to work as a cinematographer, Webster acquired a modular synthesizer by Modcan and began producing her own diverse modules, along with other designers including Mark Barton and Herbert Kuhnert, under the name Cyndustries. Although Cyndustries modules were originally intended for use with Modcan systems, they are also available in other formats including the Behringer Eurorack, Dotcom (Synthesizer.com), PaiA’s FracRak, and MOTM by Synthesis Technologies....

Article

Laurence Libin

American firm of piano makers, active in New York from 1791 to 1793. The brief partnership of Thomas Dodds (b England; d ?New York, c1799) and Christian Claus (b ?Stuttgart, Germany; d New York, after 1799) was among the first to establish the piano industry in New York.

Dodds arrived in New York from London in 1785. In an advertisement in the Independent Journal of 13 August 1785, he offered to sell, repair, and tune string, wind, and keyboard instruments at his house on Queen Street, and cited his experience as an organ, harpsichord, and piano maker for “upwards of twenty years.” He was granted American citizenship in 1788. In 1789 he sold a piano to George Washington for his stepdaughter’s lessons. He was also active as a mahogany merchant from 1789 to 1793. In 1783 Claus had received a patent in London for a key mechanism applied to the English guitar. In New York he continued to build English guitars and repair violins; he is listed in city directories from ...

Article

Hugh Davies

An 88-note upright Electric piano designed by Maurice Krakauer Bretzfelder (1905–66) and manufactured by Krakauer Bros. of New York from about 1937. Based on the patent for Benjamin F. Miessner’s Electronic Piano, it had no soundboard, the vibrations of its strings being converted into voltage variations by three separately controllable sets of electrostatic pickups placed at different positions to produce different timbres. In addition to the two normal pedals, it had a swell pedal. In 1940 it was advertised as incorporating a radio and a phonograph, the latter installed in the bench.

Bretzfelder was the great-grandson of Simon Krakauer, founder of the piano firm, and was in charge of manufacturing from 1929; he was elected president of the firm in 1951. At Columbia University in the 1950s he assisted in developing a device for measuring galvanic skin resistance in children. The Bretzfelder family, from New Haven, Connecticut, were related to the prominent instrument collector Morris Steinert. (M.K. Bretzfelder: ‘Latest Tone-controlled Electronic Piano’, ...

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 1890. In 1903 Anastasios emigrated with his family to New York, where on 25 March 1909 he patented a bowl-back mandolin named the Orpheum Lyra. Two sons, Epaminondas (‘Epi’, b 1893) and Orpheus, joined him in the business, and when Anastasios died, in 1915, Epi took control and later patented a banjo tone ring and rim. Assuming ownership upon his mother’s death, in 1923, he introduced the Recording line of banjos. As business expanded, the family acquired the Farovan instrument plant in Long Island and in 1928 the incorporated firm became The Epiphone Banjo Corp. By that time Epiphone was making banjos for Selmer/Conn. To compete with their rival Gibson, Epiphone introduced their Recording series of acoustic guitars, both archtop and flat top, followed in ...

Article

Edwin M. Good

Family of piano designers and builders. (i) Darrell Fandrich (b Philadelphia, PA, 31 Jan 1942). Piano designer and maker. After many years of experience as a pianist, piano technician, and concert tuner, he began design work, inventing a new type of action for upright pianos that was first patented in 1990. He founded Fandrich Design, Inc., to hold the license rights and promote the design of the new action mechanism; Heather Chambers (b 1948; later Heather Fandrich) joined this corporation in 1991. When other companies failed to adopt the Fandrich Vertical Action, Darrell opted to use it in pianos built by his brother Delwin Fandrich, who began piano production in 1992 and continued to 1994.

After this production ceased in 1994, Darrell and Heather founded Fandrich & Sons in Stanwood, Washington. Contacts in Germany, the Czech Republic, and China led to the purchase of new pianos, which Darrell has rebuilt in order to properly install his action in them. The pianos are then resold as Fandrich & Sons instruments. The Louis Renner Company in Germany manufactures the Fandrich action, which is also used in models of several European makers. The action, designed to feel as solid and responsive as a fine grand action, features carefully weighted keys, hammer return, and repetition springs. In addition to producing 50″ and 52″ uprights with the Fandrich Vertical Action, the company also builds 5′5″, 6′1″, and 7′1″ grand pianos....