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(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

Gnome  

Hugh Davies

Electronic keyboard instrument developed by Ivan Eremeeff in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1932; it was the smaller and better known of two instruments based on the same principles that Eremeeff built in that year. Rotating electromagnetic tone wheels generated the sounds. The keyboard (three and a half octaves) and the bench on which the player sat formed part of an electrical circuit; when one of the stationary, touch-plate keys was fingered, an electrical contact was made through the performer’s body with the metal top of the bench. In addition to pedals governing volume and tremolo there was also a decay control. The Gnome was designed for home use and could be connected to the amplifier and loudspeaker of a domestic radio set....

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

Hugh Davies

Environmental sound sculpture devised in 1973 by the American pianist and composer David Tudor. It was based on the concept of the ‘instrumental loudspeaker’, which Tudor developed in 1966 and used in all four works in the Rainforest series, starting in 1968. The first instrumental loudspeakers consisted of containers into one end of which electronic or other sounds were fed through small loudspeakers. The sounds were picked up by microphones at the other end and passed to a conventional sound system. The containers in these early examples were metal boxes into which various materials were introduced to filter the signals acoustically as they passed between loudspeaker and microphone. In Rainforest IV the boxes are replaced by a great variety of objects, many of them in everyday use or scrap materials, to which loudspeaker-like transducers are attached; together these create an elaborate sound environment, which is operated by members of the group Composers Inside Electronics (founded by Tudor)....

Article

Hugh Davies

Electromechanical keyboard instrument developed by Frederick M. Sammis at RCA in Hollywood about 1936 and designed for use in film studios. Each of the ten (or perhaps more) keys on the keyboard controlled a separate strip of pre-recorded film soundtrack, which was played back when the key was depressed. The soundtracks could contain recordings of music, speech, or sound effects. The mechanism of the instrument included a device that silently returned each film strip to its beginning as soon as the key was released. The principle of the ‘singing keyboard’ is the same as that found in several patents in the 1920s for instruments based on sounds pre-recorded on magnetized discs and wires, and in the Mellotron (1963), which uses magnetic tapes. About 1933 Sammis collaborated with Arnold Lesti on the Polytone.

F.M. Sammis: ‘The Singing Keyboard’, Radio-Craft (1936), no.7, 588, 617 T. Rhea: ‘Electronic Perspectives: Photoelectric Acoustic-Sound Instruments’, ...

Article

Sonovox  

Hugh Davies

revised by Anne Beetem Acker

Sound-effects device developed by the fiction writer and radio operator Gilbert M. Wright in Los Angeles in 1939 and manufactured by Wright-Sonovox, which was affiliated with the radio station representatives Free & Peters in Chicago. A sound is transmitted to the larynx of a trained ‘articulator’ through two earphone-sized loudspeakers that are placed against the throat; the sound is modified by movements of the tongue and lips to produce speech-like articulations. The Sonovox was much used for radio drama and films, including Walt Disney’s The Reluctant Dragon (1941) and Leith Stevens’s score for the film Destination Moon (1950). The voice of Casey the Train in Walt Disney’s Dumbo (1941) was created using the Sonovox. It was very popular for radio station identifications and advertising jingles. The rock band The Who used the Sonovox on their song ‘Radio London’ (1967), in which guitar chords seem to speak the days of the week. Later it was replaced by the more versatile vocoder....