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Article

SSSP  

Hugh Davies

revised by Anne Beetem Acker

[Structured Sound Synthesis Project]

Interactive computer-assisted music composition system, including a polyphonic digital synthesizer, developed by the Canadian composer and computer scientist William Buxton (b 10 March 1949) and others at the University of Toronto Dynamic Graphics Lab in 1977. Its basic 16-voice multiplexed digital oscillator was used in three different systems. In the SSSP Composition System (1978) it was controlled by a PDP 11/45 computer in a studio environment; material developed in this way (up to eight ‘scores’ simultaneously) could be performed in concerts with the SSSP Conduct System (1979), controlled by a portable LSI 11/2 microcomputer. Both systems included a visual display unit and a choice of inputting devices: a 61-note keyboard, an alphanumeric keyboard, and a special graphics tablet by means of which the operator could ‘draw’ on the screen. This very flexible system offered a choice of notations as well as the sophisticated facility of the tablet, and composers needed no previous programming experience to operate it. The tablet led to the development of a new live performance instrument, the SSSP Touch-Sensitive Drum (...

Article

Anne Beetem Acker

Maker of MIDI controllers founded by the musician and engineer Harvey Starr in San Diego, California, in 1986. The company was initially known as the Starr Switch Co., which provided electronic and mechanical component prototypes for other firms. Since 1994 the firm has specialized in MIDI controllers; its name was changed to Starr Labs in 1996. Their best-known original product is the Ztar, introduced in 1991, a guitar-shaped controller with key-based MIDI inputs. The Ztar has long narrow buttons arranged in rows and columns on its neck to correspond to the frets and six strings, respectively, of a guitar. Early Ztars had an array of six pressure- and velocity-sensitive sensors (trigger pads) for the right hand, plus a customizable choice of larger trigger pad areas for drums. Later Ztars offer an option of using six short lengths of guitar string material for right hand triggering or an array of pressure- and velocity-sensitive buttons. In ‘basic guitar’ mode these strings generate no pitch information alone, instead sending the MIDI message that a note is active, plus a velocity reading, while the left hand usually controls the pitch selection. Other modes allow the strings to send chords, trigger sequences, or other messages, such as controlling crossfade between voices. Various optional sensors and controls can be added, including sustain and volume pedals. An LCD with eight softkeys is located on the upper edge of the body for changing and displaying settings. Configurations of settings can be saved for rapid access in live performance. As of ...

Article

Theodor Wohnhaas

German firm of piano makers. One of the oldest and most notable Bavarian piano manufacturers, it was founded by Eduard Steingraeber (b Rudolstadt, 20 Aug 1823; d Bayreuth, 14 Dec 1906), who from 1840 to 1844 trained as a piano maker under his father Christian Heinrich Steingraeber and his uncle Gottlieb Steingraeber in Rudolstadt. After three years of travels, when he also met Streicher in Vienna, he returned to his father’s workshops in 1848. In 1852 he founded his own piano workshops in Bayreuth, where his sons Johann Georg Steingraeber (1858–1932) and Burkhard Steingraeber (1866–1945) became partners in 1892. Johann moved to Berlin in 1910 and became a leading maker of modern harpsichords (see also Harpsichord). Burkhard’s son-in-law Heinrich Hermann became head of the firm Steingraeber & Sons in 1920. From 1951 Heinrich Schmidt, Hermann’s nephew, directed the firm, and was followed by his son Udo Schmidt-Steingraeber....

Article

Hans Klotz

revised by Theodor Wohnhaas

German firm of organ builders. It was founded by Georg Friedrich Steinmeyer (b Walxheim, Württemberg, 21 Oct 1819; d Oettingen, 22 Feb 1901) who, after a period of study with A. Thoma of Oettingen, became an assistant of E.F. Walcker of Ludwigsburg, set up on his own in Oettingen in 1847 and produced his first organ in 1848 at Frankenhofen. Under his management over 700 organs were built including the cathedral organs of Bamberg, Munich and Speyer. His son Johannes Steinmeyer (b Oettingen, 27 June 1857; d Oettingen, 22 July 1928) became a partner in 1884, and owner in 1901. He was responsible for the preservation of the Trinity organ built by K.J. Riepp at the Benedictine abbey of Ottobeuren (restored despite the abbey’s plans for its reconstruction). In 1928 he built for Passau Cathedral the largest church organ in the world (at that time), with five manuals and 208 stops. His son Hans Steinmeyer (...

Article

Cynthia Adams Hoover

American firm of piano makers. Heinrich Engelhard Steinway [Steinweg] (b Wolfshagen, 25 Feb 1797; d New York, 7 Feb 1871) established with his sons a piano firm that has dominated the industry from the late 1860s to the present. Precise details of Heinrich's early years are scarce. Family tradition claims that after having served in the army against Napoleon until 1818, and being prohibited by the strict guild system to work as a cabinet maker in Goslar, he assisted an organ builder in the nearby town of Seesen. In 1825 Heinrich was permitted to become a builder and cabinet maker (without the benefit of guild approval) to help rebuild the town of Seesen after it had been destroyed by fire. That year also marked the beginning of what became the Steinway dynasty, with Heinrich's marriage to Julianne Thiemer (1804–77) and the birth of their eldest son C.F. Theodor (...

Article

Stodart  

Margaret Cranmer

English firm of piano makers. It was founded by Robert Stodart (b Walston, Lanarks., bap. 19 July 1748; d Edinburgh, 10 March 1831) in 1775 when he set up his own harpsichord- and piano-making business in Wardour Street, London. He was tuning harpsichords for John Broadwood before 1772 (he was previously apprenticed to an engineer in Dalkeith) and had assisted Broadwood and Americus Backers in inventing the English grand action (see Pianoforte, §I, 4 and fig.); in 1777 he patented a combination instrument, which included the earliest patent for this action (see Harpsichord-piano). Some of his grand pianos survive including one from 1781 at Heaton Hall, Manchester, which is five octaves in compass with an undivided, single-pinned, harpsichord-type bridge and three metal gap spacers to strengthen the gap between the soundboard and the wrest plank. One square piano by him survives with a five-octave compass and the English single action....

Article

Margaret Cranmer

Austrian firm of piano makers . It was founded in 1802 when the daughter of Johann Andreas Stein, Nannette (Maria Anna) Stein Streicher (b Augsburg, 2 Jan 1769; d Vienna, 16 Jan 1833), began building pianos independently from her brother Matthäus Andreas Stein. Stein’s children had carried on their father’s firm after his death and moved the firm from Augsburg to Vienna after Nannette’s marriage to the pianist, composer and teacher Johann Andreas Streicher (b Stuttgart, 13 Dec 1761; d Vienna, 25 May 1833) in 1794. Nannette, also a fine pianist, had learnt piano making from her father, and up to 1810 her piano actions were similar to his, being without back checks (see Pianoforte §I 3. and Pianoforte §I 5.). Her business – ‘Nannette Streicher née Stein’ – flourished, and her husband, a professor of music at Vienna, gave up his job to join her. Weber (in a letter to Johann Gänsbacher, ...

Article

Anne Beetem Acker

Australian piano manufacturing firm. It was founded by Wayne Stuart (b 28 March 1954, Ulverstone, Tasmania) in 1990 and is based in Newcastle. From 2000, the firm operated independently under the name Piano Australia Pty Ltd in conjunction with J. Albert & Son, an Australian music publishing and production firm. Stuart studied piano technology at the NSW State Conservatorium of Music (now the Sydney Conservatorium of Music) and later with Nippon Gakki (Yamaha), Bösendorfer, Bechstein, Steinway, Grotrian-Steinweg, and Louis Renner.

Stuart set out to design a piano combining traditional and new technologies that would increase dynamic range and sustaining power. A core feature is a metal agraffe for string coupling at the bridge that bends the wire in the vertical plane instead of the normal horizontal plane, so as to encourage the wire to vibrate in the same plane as the hammer strike and discourage elliptical and non-vertical oscillations during the decay, thus producing a more regular decay pattern with an even and long sustain....

Article

Aaron S. Allen and Laurence Libin

Term encompassing issues of respectful management of natural resources and corresponding ecologies so that they endure. Unsustainable depletion of resources through excessive use or misuse, habitat destruction, climate change, and associated cultural and ecological pressures increasingly concerns instrument makers, consumers, and preservationists, leading them to realign values and practices. Sustainability has become an existential problem for societies that rely on vanishing resources, and for plants and animals that interact in ecosystems, which in turn encompass humans. While cultural aspects of sustainability have been considered in many ethnographic and organological studies, ecological implications require further attention.

Many kinds of instruments have traditionally incorporated materials from now-endangered or threatened species. These animal and plant materials have been exploited for their tonal properties, durability, or other physical characteristics, and for decorative, symbolic, or economic reasons. The efficacy of instruments played in religious or magical rituals, displayed as regalia, or worshipped in their own right can depend on the use of these rare substances, and the value of collectible instruments is enhanced by their presence....

Article

Cheng Liu and Stewart Carter

Manufacturer of Chinese instruments, located in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province. Founded in 1954 the firm nowadays produces approximately 60,000 erhus and 10,000 pipas annually. It also produces ruans, guzhengs, qins, yangqins, suonas, dizis, xiaos, paixiaos, shengs, bianqings, bianzhongs, yunluos, and several types of traditional percussion instruments, as well as some Western-style instruments, such as timpani and harps. The firm also manufactures a few specialty instruments that are essentially enlargements of traditional instruments, intended primarily for use in Chinese traditional orchestras. Among these are the laruan, which resembles a large ruan, but bowed like a cello rather than plucked; and various forms of sheng with metal pipes rather than bamboo, including a bass sheng and a large sheng with a keyboard. The firm’s main factory in Suzhou produces mostly semi-finished instruments, which are sent to a subsidiary factory, also in Suzhou, for painting and other finish work. In 2012 Tian Yongyi was the company’s director and legal representative....

Article

Article

Synare  

Hugh Davies

A range of electronic percussion instruments manufactured by Star Instruments of Stafford Springs, Connecticut, between 1975 and 1983. The Synare P.S. (Percussion Synthesizer) consists of a small modular synthesizer with four drum-pads. From 1978 a rather different approach was adopted and the Synare P.S. was replaced by a range of smaller drum synthesizers which were either built into a special drum, controlled from a conventional drum with a contact microphone clamped to its side, or triggered from rubber pads laid out like the bars of a keyed percussion instrument. One model can be connected to a sequencer that can memorize up to four 32-note sequences. The electronically generated timbres include timpani, bells, and bass drum. Synares were popular for disco music, and some 21st-century sample libraries include Synare samples....

Article

Robert E. Eliason

The first commercially available digital music synthesizer, introduced at the 1977 International Computer Music Conference in San Diego, California. It was designed and built by New England Digital Corporation (NED) founders Sydney Alonzo and Cameron W. Jones in collaboration with Dartmouth College professor Jon Appleton. During the 1980s it developed into a digital audio system capable of FM synthesis, sound analysis, sampling, stereo recording and playback on up to 200 tracks, audio editing, video synchronization, and music printing. By 1985 over 400 systems had been sold to recording studios, video post-production operations, and professional musicians such as Michael Jackson, Pat Metheny, Oscar Peterson, Sting, and Stevie Wonder. Commercial producers such as Richard Lavsky used the Synclavier to create accompaniments for such diverse uses as Canon camera commercials, promotional shorts for ABC News, and “Sesame Street.” The success of the Synclavier came to an end in the early 1990s with the advent of several more-affordable digital synthesizers and samplers. Following the end of operations in ...

Article

Syndrum  

Hugh Davies

Electronic percussion instrument invented in Los Angeles by Joe Pollard, a professional drummer. In 1976 he met Mark Barton of the Tycobrahe Sound Company in Hermosa Beach, California, who made some well-received prototypes. Along with Donald Stone, they patented the design and formed Pollard Industries of South El Monte, California. The Syndrum is played like a drum, but has a piezo-electric sensor mounted in the centre of a mesh-covered ‘head’. Syndrums were initially made in two forms: the 477, a drum (also in sets of two and four) connected to a separate electronic console, and the 177, a single-drum unit with built-in controls governing electronically generated sounds. The two-head 277 followed. While the Syndrum was very popular with rock bands and for disco in the late 1970s and early 80s, Pollard Industries failed and in 1978 was sold to Research Development Systems, Inc., which added the Syndrum CM, a single-head drum with controls on the sides. All the drums offered multiple sound effects including the ‘laser’, bird calls, clave, anvil, several types of toms, bass drum, and snare drum. Used Syndrums remain popular, and many keyboard synthesizers and sample libraries offer Syndrum sounds. In ...

Article

Hugh Davies

Analogue electronic percussion instrument marketed by the toy manufacturer Mattel Electronics of California from 1982. It has a rectangular console (c20 × 23 cm) incorporating four circular rubber drum-pads, which can be played either with sticks or with the fingers; they trigger a range of electronically generated percussion sounds (snare drum, cymbal, high and low tom-toms). Tom-tom 1 is tunable over a five-octave range by means of a pitch wheel at the left side. LED lights show which pad is being played. A volume control is at the right. There is also a bass drum operated by an on-off key; it can function as a metronome. A sequencer can memorize and record three 16-note patterns, which can either be played or punched in by means of buttons and layered. The sound is heard through a separate guitar amplifier, stereo system, or headphones, connected through output jacks. The unit is powered by batteries or 9-volt AC adapter. Nowadays considered a vintage ‘collectable’, the instrument was used by some professional performers. In the early 1970s Mattel also produced the Optigan, a small photoelectric tone-wheel toy ‘organ’ based on the principle of graphic sound....

Article

Brandon Smith

Analogue synthesizer manufacturing division of Arrick Robotics, founded in 1987 in Tyler, Texas, by the engineer Roger Arrick (b 1961). The division was established in the late 1990s as interest in modular synthesis revived. Unlike most firms, synthesizers.com does not participate in trade shows or advertise beyond its own website; it does not use distributors or announce release dates, has no printed brochures, and communicates with clients only via the Internet. The operation’s website and blog became active in May 2005 when Arrick had most of his product line tested and ready to ship. The firm produces synthesizer modules, cabinets, and complete systems styled after the highly prized original Moog modular synthesizers. All of the standard synthesizer modules such as VCOs (voltage control oscillators), VCAs (voltage controlled amplifiers), envelope generators, and VCFs (voltage controlled filters) are part of the product line, as are some Moog-inspired designs such as the fixed filter bank and spring reverb. In ...

Article

Anne Beetem Acker

Monophonic analogue synthesizer produced between 1982 and 1984 by Synton Electronics, a Dutch firm founded in 1973 by Felix Visser. The device was created by Visser along with the product specialist Marc Paping and product developer Bert Vermeulen. Synton originally built vocoders, but soon began importing and distributing Fairlight, E-mu, and Linn products in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg. The Syrinx 1, created about 1975, was never produced commercially. Only 300 Syrinx 2 synthesizers were built. First priced under £400, but prized by collectors, originals sold for more than £1200 in the early 2000s. The device is not MIDI-compatible and has no presets, but includes two voltage control oscillators, a voltage divider, a noise generator, two ADSRs (attack decay sustain release envelope generators), two low-frequency oscillators, a pulse-width modulator, a ring modulator, and three voltage control filters. It features a mixer and a touch pad that can control pitch-bending and other parameters. All but the last series (which were mounted in a flight case), had a 44-note keyboard. The Syrinx 2 was distributed in the USA by Robert Moog. Synton went bankrupt in ...

Article

T  

Article

Guy Oldham

revised by Umberto Pineschi

Italian firm of organ builders . Giovanni Tamburini (b Bagnacavallo, 25 June 1857; d Crema, 23 Nov 1942), an accordion maker, was apprenticed as an organ builder to Pietro Anelli of Codogno before joining Pacifico Inzoli of Crema (1887), where he invented the Tamburini wind-chest with double compartments. In November 1893 he established his own business in Crema: direction later passed to his son-in-law Umberto Anselmi, and later still to his grandsons Franco and Luciano, who added ‘Tamburini’ (their mother’s maiden name) to their family name by decree of the President of the Republic of Italy, thus becoming Anselmi-Tamburini. In 1979 the brothers set up independent firms: Franco continued in Crema under the name of Tamburini until October 1995 when he went out of business, while Luciano established his shop in Pianengo under the name ‘Anselmi-Tamburini’, later passing it over to his son Claudio. In 1998 Franco’s son Saverio started a new firm in Crema under the name ‘Comm. Giovanni Tamburini’....

Article

J. Richard Haefer

Collective name for the duct flute and drum used by the Yoeme Yaqui Indians of Arizona and northern Mexico. It is played when both the maso (deer dancer) and pahko’ola (pascola) dancers are dancing at the same time. The flute, called kusia or cuzia, has two fingerholes and a thumbhole. It is made from cane that grows in the Yaqui river basin. Two sections of cane, each 20 to 25 cm long, are joined at a node by carving one end so it can slide inside the other tube; the V-shaped toneholes are in the lower section. A mouthpiece is formed by undercutting the proximal end of the cane and inserting a smaller piece of cane beneath, held in place by a peg to make an internal duct to direct the airflow against a V-shaped lip cut in the upper surface of the top section.

The drum, called ...