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date: 22 November 2019


  • Hugh Davies
  • , revised by Peter Donhauser


Monophonic electronic instrument based on the Trautonium, developed in 1949–52 in Berlin by Oskar Sala (b Greiz, Thuringia, Germany, 18 July 1910; d Berlin, Germany, 27 Feb 2002). As a student Sala was involved in the construction of the original Trautonium, was one of the first to play it, in 1930, and shortly afterwards became its sole virtuoso. He assisted in the development of the 1933 version of the instrument (‘Volkstrautonium’) manufactured by Telefunken, and himself constructed the radio (‘Rundfunktrautonium’, 1937) and concert (‘Konzerttrautonium’, 1940) versions. The last two both had two ribbon controller fingerboards and featured the use of subharmonic timbres (mirror-image ‘overtone’ spectra below the fundamental), which Trautwein had proposed in a patent in 1931.

From 1949 to 1952 Sala improved and extended the subharmonic principle to create a substantially different and more flexible instrument. The Mixtur-Trautonium has a console that resembles a small writing desk, with two touch-sensitive monophonic fingerboards and two pedal controls, which, together with many knobs and switches, make available a sophisticated system of subharmonic mixtures; up to four subharmonic pitches can be added to the note played on each fingerboard, producing a sound that is more like a chord than a special timbre. In ...

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