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Article

Anne Beetem Acker

Synthesizer module manufacturer founded by John Blacet (b 1946) in 1978 as Blacet Music Research in Lakeview, Oregon. Blacet initially made kits for analogue modules including a digital pattern generator, a voltage-controlled clock with event arranger, a phase filter, and a frequency divider, followed by analogue delay modules, the ‘Dark Star’ (a mini noise module) and the ‘Syn-bow’, a self-contained wand-controlled synthesizer. With the popularity of digital synthesizers in the 1980s Blacet’s business plummeted, but renewed interest in analogue synthesis in the 1990s enabled him to produce a full line of kit and assembled analogue synthesizer modules in the Frac format. These modules are noted for fitting a large amount of functionality into very small modules. In spring ...

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

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

Clavia  

Brandon Smith

[Clavia Digital Musical Instruments AB]

Swedish producer of virtual analogue synthesizers and digital organ and electric piano emulations. The company was founded in 1983 in Stockholm by Hans Nordelius (b1949) and Mikael Carlsson, and it sells its products under the brand name Nord. Clavia’s first product, the Digital Percussion Plate 1, introduced in 1983, developed into the ‘ddrum’ series of digital drum synthesizers. In 1995 Clavia produced its first keyboard synthesizer, a virtual analogue called the Nord Lead. Two years later Clavia developed a hardware synthesizer with a computer interface called the Nord Modular, which was fully patchable via the supplied editor software. In 2001, Clavia released the Nord Electro line of performance-oriented keyboards featuring realistic emulations of classic electromechanical instruments such as the Rhodes piano and Clavinet plus a virtual Hammond tonewheel organ. The Electro series (now in its second version) is used by many performing groups. The double-manual Nord C1 (introduced in ...

Article

Crumar  

Hugh Davies

revised by Anne Beetem Acker

Italian manufacturer of electronic keyboard instruments, founded in the early 1970s in Castelfidardo, near Ancona. The firm was named after its founder, Mario Crucianelli, and his partner F. Marchetti. The Crucianelli family already owned a large accordion firm that had designed the first electronic accordion, but disputes led Mario and his brother Vincenzo to leave and form Crumar. Mario’s son Sante worked as sales manager and as a marketing/engineering liaison. Crumar’s early range (produced from about 1974) included several types of electric piano (the Compac, Roady, Roadracer, Roadrunner, Baby Grand Piano, and others), electronic organ (including the Toccata), and string synthesizer (Multiman, Orchestrator, and Performer), and instruments incorporating a polyphonic synthesizer section (Composer, Stratus, and Trilogy). The Synthephone (1982), a small electronic keyboard instrument, features a breath control facility. Crumar’s analogue synthesizers were comparable to the Moog and other types, and the Crumar Spirit was designed by Robert Moog along with Jim Scott and Tom Rhea....

Article

Cwejman  

Anne Beetem Acker

[CW Elektronik]

Swedish producer of analogue synthesizers, founded and solely operated in Kungälv by the Polish engineer Wlodzimierz (Wowa) Cwejman (b 1949). Cwejman began building the analogue synthesizer ‘Synthra’ to custom order in the 1970s, but dropped out of the field to work in industrial electronics when digital synthesizers came on the market. In ...

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

Daewoo  

Anne Beetem Acker

(Korean: ‘great Woo’)

South Korean manufacturer of acoustic and digital pianos. Founded in 1967 as Daewoo Industrial, the large conglomerate Daewoo International Corp. is named for its founder, Kim Woo-jung. In 1977 the Daewoo Precision Industries division purchased the Sojin musical instrument factory of Yeoju, Korea. Sojin had been making guitars; it added upright pianos in 1976. Between 1980 and 1991, Daewoo exported Sojin pianos as well as pianos under the names Royale, Daytron, Daewoo, Schafer & Sons, Sherman Clay (until 1987), and Cline, in addition to private labels. These pianos were of inconsistent and relatively low quality. Starting in 1989, Daewoo began to manufacture digital pianos. In 1990 they produced 13,452 uprights, 2,364 grands, and 2,120 digital pianos.

In 1991, Daewoo purchased a 33% share of the German piano maker Ibach, selling the Sojin equipment to a Chinese firm and replacing it with copies of Ibach’s machinery. Thereafter, instead of Sojin pianos, Daewoo produced Ibach brand instruments to a higher standard, using components such as Renner actions and Delignit wrestplanks. However, the parent Daewoo International Corp., stressed by the Asian financial crisis, went bankrupt in ...

Article

Anne Beetem Acker

Line of MIDI-based reproducing player pianos introduced by Yamaha Corporation in 1982 (1986 in North America). The Disklavier system combines an acoustic piano with an electromechanical player-piano system. As in other such systems, fibre-optic sensors register the movement of keys, hammers, and pedals during performance, while the digital controller operates a bank of solenoids installed under the piano’s key bed; one solenoid is positioned under the tail of each key, with additional solenoids connected to the pedal rods. Performance information is stored digitally on CD-ROM, floppy discs (still used for many accompaniments for instructional piano material), or a hard drive. Disklavier systems can be connected to sequencers, tone modules, and computers via MIDI and Ethernet. A built-in speaker system attached to the case under the soundboard is used to play back optional digital piano sound and especially for playback of accompanying orchestral or vocal tracks.

Unlike other electronic player systems, the Disklavier is only installed in new Yamaha pianos and only at the factory. It cannot be installed in older Yamahas or other brands of pianos. Compared with other systems, the Disklavier’s recording capability is generally regarded to be of the highest quality and sophistication. Of the Disklavier models available in ...

Article

Brandon Smith

German manufacturer of electronic music products, particularly MIDI controllers and modular synthesizers. The company was founded in Munich by Dieter Doepfer in 1977. The first products were modules for other companies’ systems, such as Formant and PMS (Polyphonic Modular System). In the late 1980s and early 90s the focus shifted mainly to MIDI controllers and MIDI-to-CV converters (devices that create analogue voltages from a MIDI input). In 1992 Florian Schneider of Kraftwerk consulted with Doepfer to help create the MAQ16/3, an analogue step sequencer with MIDI capabilities. In the same year the company moved to Gräfelfing and became a limited liability corporation, with a staff of six. Doepfer was one of the small companies during the 1990s that offered genuine analogue synthesizers, such as the MS-404, a MIDI-controlled monophonic synthesizer designed to emulate the Roland TB-303. In 1996 Doepfer released the extensive A-100 modular synthesizer series; these feature all the traditional synthesizer modules (oscillators, filters, envelope generators etc.) as well as innovative modules such as the A-178 theremin control voltage source and a series of modules inspired by the Trautonium, invented in Germany by Oskar Sala in ...

Article

Anne Beetem Acker

Chinese piano manufacturer. An outgrowth of the government-owned Shanghai Piano Factory, founded in the 1920s, the Dongbei Piano Factory was established in 1952 in Yingkou City in Liaoning province of northeastern China (dongbei means ‘northeast’) to take advantage of the high quality of local wood. For many years, the firm made only upright pianos. In 1988, after the Swedish firm Nordiska went out of business, Dongbei purchased the designs and equipment for the Nordiska Model 116, an upright superior to Dongbei’s. Dongbei formed an agreement in 1991 with the Korean firm Daewoo whereby Daewoo helped Dongbei produce uprights. This arrangement was extended in 1996 to include grand piano production and ended with Dongbei buying most of Daewoo’s equipment and designs after the latter ceased piano manufacture in 1997; some of Daewoo’s designers and technicians then went to work for Dongbei. In 1994 Dongbei began to export their Sagenhaft uprights to the USA....

Article

Hugh Davies

revised by Anne Beetem Acker

[Elektronmusikstudion] (Swed.: ‘electronic music studio’)

The Swedish national centre for electronic music and sound art, in Stockholm. It was preceded by a smaller studio run by the Worker’s Society of Education from 1960. EMS was established by Swedish Radio in 1964 under music director and composer Karl Birger Blomdahl (1916–68), who hired the composer and performer Knut Wiggen (b 1927) to take charge of creating the studios. In 1965 an old radio theatre studio called the klangverstan (‘sound workshop’) opened for composers. Construction of a new facility was begun, but after Blomdahl’s death EMS became independent, funded only in small part by Swedish Radio, and otherwise by Fylkingen (a society for experimental music and arts) and the Swedish Royal Academy of Music.

Wiggen envisioned EMS as both a place to produce electro-acoustic music and a research institution that would give the composer ‘the possibility of describing sounds in psychological terms’. The studio was equipped accordingly. The sound sculpture ...

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....

Article

Farfisa  

Hugh Davies

revised by 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 1951 Farfisa developed the ‘Super 6’ accordion, considered by many to be the best in the world. Later, Farfisa began producing electronic keyboard instruments ranging in style from piano accordions to synthesizers. From about 1960 its range of electronic piano accordions included the 41-note Cordovox and Transicord (from ‘transistor’ and ‘accordion’), and in 1970 it manufactured an early electronic percussion unit; one Transicord model included an electronic rhythm section.

The company’s success led to a take-over in ...

Article

British firm based in Surbiton, Surrey, founded in 1995 by Martin Phelps and Alan Kempster to introduce ‘electronic hymnals’ to the UK market. The firm distributes British-made portable devices that can store and play back 3000 or more hymn accompaniments and simultaneously display hymn verses on large screens. The electronic hymnal, known as ‘Hymnal Plus’, has a broader repertory than most organists and can supplement or replace the use of an organ, especially in the increasing number of churches that lack an organist. It is also useful for worship services in schools, retirement homes, prisons, hospitals, ships, and outdoor venues where no organ is available. Additional music can be imported from iPods, MP3 players, and the like. The MIDI-equipped HT-300 model, introduced in 2005, can be pre-programmed for each service and is controlled by the worship leader from a wireless, LCD touch-screen handset. Tempo, pitch, loudness, musical style, choice of verses, and other features are variable; preset musical styles range from traditional, digitally sampled pipe organ accompaniment to ‘happy clappy’ instrumentals. An interactive psalm accompaniment feature is available for Anglican chant. Loudspeakers are built into the unit, which can also be connected to an external sound system. Devices have been sold in Africa, America (with revised repertory list), and Australia, as well as throughout the UK....

Article

Kemble  

Anne Beetem Acker

English piano manufacturing firm. It was founded in 1911 by Michael Kemble (1884–1962) in partnership with the Jacobs family in Stoke Newington. In the 1950s Michael Kemble’s eldest son, Robert (1919–2003), assumed co-directorship with Denzil Jacobs (19212013), while Stanley Kemble (b 1922) was responsible for running the factory. Shortly thereafter, to increase production the firm moved to a larger factory near Milton Keynes. The firm’s bestseller in the 1940s was the 90-cm-tall drop-action ‘Minx’ upright. In 1964, Kemble bought the Brinsmead and Cramer piano lines from J.B. Cramer & Co., and from 1970 to 2000 they took over production of Chappell pianos, but few of these brands were actually made. Other brands made by Kemble have included Kirkman, Collard & Collard, B. Squire, Squire & Longson, Rogers Eungblut, Moore & Moore, Renn, and Schmidt-Flohr.

In 1968, Kemble and Yamaha acted as partners to sell Yamaha electronic organs in the UK. In ...

Article

Martin Krivin

revised by Margaret Downie Banks

Firm of instrument makers. It was founded as the H.N. White Company (Cleveland) in 1893 by Henderson Nelson White (1873–1940), an instrument repairman, amateur musician, and businessman. White created the company’s first instrument, a trombone, in consultation with trombonist Thomas H. King (1868–1926), after whom the King line was named. The company was renamed King Musical Instruments in 1966.

Foster A. Reynolds (1884–1960) managed White’s factory and a full line of band instruments from 1903 to 1935. A department of acoustical research was established in 1909 in a new factory at 5225 Superior Avenue. Saxophone manufacture began in 1916, followed by the invention of the King saxello (1924; a straight soprano sax with a curved neck and half-turned bell) and the pioneering introduction of sterling silver bells on cornets, trumpets, and trombones. White purchased the Cleveland Musical Instrument Company (1925), added stringed instruments to his line (...

Article

Ian Mikyska

Composers’ collective and ensemble founded in Prague in 2002. Over the years, the organizing team has included a number of composers and instrumentalists, with the remaining core today being Tomáš Pálka[1], Michaela Plachká, and Ondřej Štochl[2].

Their programming includes canonical composers of the 20th century as well as younger artists. They hold a call for scores each year, and have presented a number of works by Czech composers of older generations (kopelent, slavický, smolka). Despite a general tendency towards quiet and contemplative aesthetics, they have also performed music by composers of the so-called New Complexity and from more standard post-avant-garde traditions, always with a view to creating a dynamic and compact programme.

Konvergence often collaborates with other ensembles on combined programmes with an unusually well thought out dramaturgy. Over the years, they have worked with ensembles such as Platypus, Adapter, the Fama Quartet, le concert impromptu, the Isang Yun Trio, and the Quasars Ensemble....