- Hugh Davies
Instruments that incorporate electronic circuitry as an integral part of the sound-generating system. This article also discusses instruments that are properly classed as ‘electric’ or ‘electroacoustic’. There are three reasons for this. First, historically and technically the development of electronic instruments resulted from experiments, often only partly successful, in the application of electrical technology to the production or amplification of acoustic sound; in many areas electronic instruments have superseded their electric predecessors, and they have also opened up their own, entirely new possibilities for composition and performance. Second, all electric instruments require electronic amplification, so that there is some justification for considering them alongside instruments that are fully electronic. Third, common usage dictates ‘electronic instruments’ rather than ‘electric (or electroacoustic) instruments’ as the generic term for all instruments in which vibrations are amplified and heard as sound through a loudspeaker, whether the sound-generating system is electroacoustic or electronic.
The total quantity of electronic instruments built in the 70 years since the first models were manufactured already numbers many millions, and the day is not far off when they will outnumber all other instruments made throughout human history (especially if all the digital watches, pocket calculators, home computers, mobile telephones and electronic games machines that can play melodies or produce other sounds are taken into account). Well over 500 patents for electronic instruments (in some instances several for a single instrument) were granted in Britain, France, Germany and the USA up to ...