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date: 22 November 2019


  • Hugh Davies


Monophonic photoelectrically controlled instrument developed by Wolja (Volya) Saraga (b Berlin, 3 Sept 1908; d London, 15 Feb 1980) at the Heinrich- Hertz-Institut für Schwingungsforschung in Berlin about 1931. It was introduced at the Berlin Radio Exhibition in 1932 but is no longer in existence. It was exceptional among space-controlled instruments in that it did not utilize the principle of the theremin. Instead, it consisted of an audio oscillator controlled by movements of the performer’s hand between a low-voltage neon lamp and a narrow V-shaped slit in the lid of a box, on the white-painted inside of which a photocell was mounted and positioned so that direct light would not reach it. The range of the instrument was about four octaves. Envelope and timbre were controlled by a switch held in the performer’s other hand, and volume by a pedal.

Saraga received his PhD from the Humboldt University of Berlin in ...

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