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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

Anne Beetem Acker

[Mobile]

Ensemble of performers using programmable mobile (cellular) phones. MoPhoO, the Mobile Phone Orchestra of CCRMA at Stanford University, formed in 2007 with 16 phones and players under the supervision of Ge Wang, Georg Essl, and Henri Penttinen, claims to be the first repertoire- and ensemble-based mobile phone performance group. Notably it uses only the phone’s onboard speakers. Since MoPhoO’s founding, other cell phone ensembles have been founded at the University of Michigan, Berlin (both founded by Georg Essl), and in Helsinki (directors Henri Penttinen and Antti Jylhä). The Michigan ensemble uses custom-made wearable speaker systems. Repertoire consists of scored compositions, sonic sculpture, and structured improvisation. For each piece, the phones run customised programmes that direct how they respond sonically to inputs that can come from the keypad or touchpad, the accelerometer positions, the built-in camera, or the microphone. For example, the keypad numbers can be mapped to different pitches in different modes, or to any sort of sound or sequence of sounds. While cell phones have considerable computing capability, they have limited acoustic bandwidth, but partial selection can suggest bass frequencies that are below the cell phone’s actual capability....

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

Richard Johnston

Guitar, mandolin, and ukulele manufacturer. It was founded in Houston, Texas, in 1976 by Bill Collings (b 1948), who had moved from Ohio to Texas following a failed attempt at medical school. After building a few guitars and some banjos, Collings moved to Austin in 1979. His background as a machinist led him to emphasize precise jigs and fixtures even when he was working out of a small single-car garage. Demand for Collings guitars, specifically for updated versions of Martin and Gibson flat-top styles from the 1930s, prompted his move to a 1,000-square-foot shop in 1989. Two woodworkers were hired, including Bruce Van Wart, who is still in charge of wood selection and top voicing on the firm’s acoustic guitars. By this time, production had increased to a level that allowed sales to a few retailers.

In late 1991 the company relocated to a much larger facility on the outskirts of Austin, and the number of Collings guitar models, and employees, began to grow. Bill Collings was one of the first flat-top guitar builders to offer fully carved arch-top models as well. These deluxe jazz guitars were quickly accepted as the equals of those from premier American builders, and they sold for similar prices; but only a few were completed each year. Collings was also one of the first small, independent guitar companies to incorporate CNC (computer numerical control) carving machines for building both guitar parts and the precise tooling to aid in their assembly, which is still done by hand. One of the signature differences between the Collings models and the Gibson and Martin originals that inspired them is that Collings uses an unglued bolted mortise and tenon neck joint, rather than a traditional dovetail....

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

Anne Beetem Acker

Interactive computer network used as an extended musical instrument, played by a San Franciso Bay–area experimental computer network band also called The Hub. The band, founded in 1985 by Tim Perkis and John Bischoff, evolved from the League of Automatic Music Composers (1978–83). The concept of The Hub is to create live music resulting from the unpredictable behaviour of the interconnected computer system. The composer/performers consider their performances a type of ‘enhanced improvisation’.

Initially The Hub provided a custom-built central ‘mailbox’ computer and made use of a MIDI network providing communication between the composer/performers’ synthesizers. With the maturation of commercial MIDI equipment, the band shifted to using the Opcode Studio V multiport MIDI interface for their hub. Since MIDI is designed to allow one player or computer to control a group of synthesizers but not to allow a network of synthesizers to interact, band member Scot Gresham-Lancaster devised a way to program the system so the Opcode Studio V could route messages among all the synthesizers in the network....

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....