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date: 18 November 2019

Tournier organlocked

  • Hugh Davies


Electronic organ developed in France up to 1938 by Marcel Tournier, a French musician and director of practical work at the School of Physics and Chemistry in Paris. It had three manuals, each with a range of about five octaves, and a pedalboard. The sounds were generated by beat-frequency quartz oscillators, a principle found in monophonic instruments such as the ondes martenot and theremin but rarely in polyphonic instruments. Unlike the builders of some other electronic organs of the late 1930s, Tournier took care to emulate the sound qualities of pipe organs, such as that resulting from the conflict between the natural harmonic series produced in individual pipes and the equal temperament of the tuning.

Tournier (who should not be confused with the contemporary harpist and composer of the same name) was also the co-inventor with Gabriel Gaveau, about 1927, of the Canto, an electromagnetic device for use with a piano; it fitted inside the piano and transmitted the vibrations of its strings to a set of tuned reeds, which vibrated in sympathy. Earlier, Tournier’s work on scientific and military applications of soundwaves contributed to the development of active sonar by Paul Langevin....

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