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date: 18 November 2019


  • Hugh Davies


A monophonic electronic keyboard instrument developed by Raymond Scott (pseudonym of Harry Warnow; b Brooklyn, NY, 10 Sept 1908; d Van Nuys, CA, 8 Feb 1994) in Farmingdale, Long Island in 1952 and patented in 1956 (US patent no.2,871,745). A graduate of the Institute of Musical Art, from the 1930s into the 1950s Scott was a well-known bandleader, arranger and composer. In 1946, he founded Manhattan Research Inc., to design and manufacture electronic music devices, including sequencers. He was one of the first people to use electronic music in broadcast commercials.

The keyboard of the Clavivox produces glissandos rather than discrete pitches. The first Clavivox prototype was made using a theremin module built by Robert Moog, and had a three-octave range. In a Clavivox at CDN.C.cmf, the key/pitch mechanism is a multi-turn potentiometer. Later models used a photoelectric system wherein a length of optical film of variable density moves through a light-beam, affecting the intensity of the light that falls on a photoelectric cell. The glide between notes is obtained by a carefully coordinated finger technique. Left-hand controls govern attack (hard or soft), vibrato, and decay. Only three Clavivoxes were constructed. Throughout the 1960s Scott also worked on his Electronium, an electronic composition machine programmed by means of some 400 knobs and switches that permit many aspects of the compositional process to be automated....

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