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date: 16 November 2019


  • Hugh Davies


A monophonic piano attachment developed by Georges Jenny about 1938–40 and manufactured by Les Ondes Georges Jenny (later known as La Musique Electronique) in Paris from 1941 until about 1976 (when Jenny died). Initially the instruments were individually built by Jenny himself; during the early 1950s they were also available in kit form. The Ondioline was inexpensively produced from components of moderate quality; of more than a thousand sold, not many remained operable by 2010. The sound is generated by a single oscillator patented in France, Germany, and the USA (31 July 1951). The range of the touch-sensitive three-octave keyboard can be set within a total compass of eight octaves by means of an octave transposition switch, and octave doubling is possible. Complex waveforms are produced with up to 50 overtones, allowing mimicry of many conventional instruments as well as creation of original sounds. Overall pitch is adjustable within a range of about one and a half steps, an advantage when playing with other instruments. Volume is controlled by a knee lever, and percussive attacks can be produced by means of a finger-wire. Sideways movement of the finger moves the keyboard itself and produces a vibrato similar to that obtainable from the ondes martenot. The Ondioline was much used in film and theatre music, light music and cabaret, often as a solo instrument. It was played, with piano accompaniment, at the top of the Atomium building at the Brussels World’s Fair in ...

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