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date: 13 November 2019


  • Hugh Davies


Keyboard instrument resembling an electronic organ, developed by Laurens Hammond and C.N. Williams and manufactured by the Hammond Organ Co. in Chicago from 1939; it was discontinued during World War II. Designed to follow the success of the company’s electronic organ, the Novachord has a six-octave console resembling a square piano. The sounds are generated by 12 oscillators using frequency division. The Novachord was probably the first commercial instrument to adopt such a system, which has since been used in many types of electronic organs. Like the Hammond Solovox, the Novachord uses vibrating reeds to produce two different speeds of vibrato by modulating the frequency of each oscillator. 14 controls, mounted on a vertical panel above the keyboard, affect timbre, attack (which ranges from ‘percussion’ to ‘singing’), decay, and vibrato. Three pedals control volume and sustain; a fourth pedal permits the operation of the sustain by either foot.

The Novachord was sometimes known as an ‘electrical orchestra’ because of its ability to imitate the sounds of most orchestral instruments, as well as the harpsichord and piano; it was also capable of producing a range of new sounds. In ...

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