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date: 18 October 2019

Hugoniot, Charles-Emilelocked

  • Hugh Davies

Extract

(d France, 1927). French researcher into electronic sound systems and inventor of an early electronic organ, the photoelectric Hugoniot organ. From the end of World War I Hugoniot systematically explored and improved on all the electronic sound-generating and -recording methods known at the time, starting in 1919 with the rotating electromagnetic tone-wheels pioneered in the Telharmonium and known in France from Cahill’s patents, and continuing with electromagnetic steel discs. He also tried out audio and beat-frequency oscillators. The only instrument that he appears to have completed was a photoelectric organ (1921), in which rotating tone-wheels with concentric rings of radial slits interrupted beams of light (there were presumably 12 discs, each producing all the octave registers of a single note); behind the wheels were shaped timbre masks that modified the light beams before they reached photoelectric cells.

Through his patents Hugoniot influenced the design of several electronic instruments developed in France in the late 1920s, including the ondes martenot (...

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