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Seven-octave upright electric piano produced by the English company W.G. Eavestaff & Sons Ltd, based on the patent for Benjamin F. Miessner’s Electronic Piano. It has no soundboard. Hammers strike the short, horizontal strings (one per note) and the vibrations are converted by electrostatic pickups, amplified and played over a loudspeaker or through headphones. The Minitronic was introduced at the ...

Article

Modcan  

Anne Beetem Acker

Modular synthesizer company established by Bruce Duncan (b Toronto, ON, 30 April 1958) in 1995 in Toronto. The name comes from ‘modular Canada’. Duncan first worked with string instruments, apprenticing with the lute maker Michael Schreiner in Toronto and Stephen Gottlieb in the UK. A Canada Arts Council grant enabled him to set up his own workshop for historical string instruments. In 1985 he took a course in piano tuning and worked briefly as a piano tuner, then switched to architectural model making. He also freelanced making prototypes for industrial designers, developing skills in working with plastics and teaching himself electronics and programming.

Inspired by the score for the film A Clockwork Orange (1971) and by the synthesized recordings of Bach by Walter Carlos, Duncan played the synthesizer for local bands in the late 1970s and later started collecting vintage synthesizers. Modcan, begun as a hobby, grew into Duncan’s full-time occupation from ...

Article

Möller  

Barbara Owen

American firm of organ builders . It was founded as M.P. Möller at Warren, Pennsylvania, in 1875 by Mathias Peter Möller (b Bornholm, Denmark, 1854; d Hagerstown, MD, 1937). After training as a mechanic Möller emigrated to the USA in 1872 and worked for the organ builders Derrick & Felgemaker, of Erie, Pennsylvania. While there he developed an improved wind-chest. In 1880 he moved his business to Hagerstown, where it remained, becoming the largest manufacturer of pipe organs in the USA. During the 1930s Richard Whitelegg, a noted voicer, was Möller’s tonal director. On Möller’s death, his son, M.P. Möller jr (1902–61), became president of the firm. Control stayed with the founder’s family: his son-in-law W. Riley Daniels became president in 1961, his grandson Kevin Mackenzie Möller in 1978, and another grandson, Peter Möller Daniels, in 1984. Two former employees of the Aeolian-Skinner Organ Co. became tonal directors for Möller: Donald Gillett in ...

Article

Anne Beetem Acker

English keyboard instrument manufacturer and dealer, located in Lewisham, London. In 1796 James Morley started a music lending library in Greenwich. His sons made and sold pianos and other instruments; one son, George Morley (1790–1852), registered his firm for making, tuning, and repairing harps in 1818 in London. George’s son, Joseph George Morley (1847–1921), was apprenticed to Erard and designed a 48-string pedal harp. In 1890 the family took over the Erard operation in London, making large concert harps until World War I, after which demand dropped and they concentrated on repairs and on making small Irish harps. John Sebastian Morley (1897–1988) was a founding member of the United Kingdom Harp Association.

James Morley’s grandson Robert ran a showroom in the City of London, where he sold Broadwood, Bechstein, Blüthner, and Steinway pianos; in 1881 he opened a factory for conventional upright pianos in Lewisham. Robert’s grandson Douglas designed new lines of grands and more elaborate uprights, which sold successfully in the 1930s. By the 1950s, interest in early keyboards led John Morley (...

Article

MOTM  

Brandon Smith and Anne Beetem Acker

[Mother of the Modulars]

Line of high-quality synthesizer modules designed by Paul Schreiber (b Beaumont, TX, 29 May 1956) for Synthesis Technology in Fort Worth. Schreiber, founder and current owner of the firm, studied electrical engineering at Texas A&M (BSEE 1979) and Southern Methodist University (MSEE 1992). He holds nine patents and has designed synthesizers part-time since 1979 while also working as a design engineer for such firms as Tandy/Radio Shack, Cirrus Logic, and Corning Fiber. He founded Synthesis Technology in 1988, first building digital speech processor systems for Texas Instruments.

The acronym MOTM also refers to the format used for synthesizer modules by Synthesis Technology and other companies such as Modcan and Encore. First shipped in April 1998, the MOTM modules are functionally similar to older modular synthesizer designs like those by Moog, Emu, and Polyfusion, and can be configured and patched in the same manner. Originally, MOTM modules came in either kit or assembled form, but supplier and distributor problems beginning in ...

Article

Neupert  

Howard Schott

revised by Martin Elste

German firm of piano and harpsichord makers . Founded by Johann Christoph Neupert (1848–1921) in 1868 as piano builders, it was among the first German makers to add harpsichords, clavichords and fortepianos to its production, in 1906. The company, which has been based in Bamberg since 1874, had begun to assemble a collection of historical stringed keyboard instruments even earlier, in 1895. Eventually this grew to number more than 250 specimens when it was donated to the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg in 1968 (a number of instruments from the collection considered to duplicate other examples had been transferred to the Händel-Haus Museum in Halle in 1939).

Hanns Neupert (1902–1980) joined the firm as technical director in 1928, after a three-year apprenticeship in piano building and studies in musicology and physics at the universities of Erlangen and Munich. He wrote a number of works dealing with historical stringed keyboard instruments and their revival in the 20th century. In ...

Article

John A. Emerson

revised by David Hiley

Site of the former Benedictine monastery of S Silvestro in the Lombard kingdom outside Modena. With Monte Cassino, it was one of the most important monastic centres of medieval Italy.

Nonantola was founded about 752 by St Anselm of Nonantola, formerly Duke of Friuli, and endowed by Aistulf, King of the Lombards (reigned 749–56). In 753 the oratory and altar were consecrated to SS Peter and Paul by Sergius, Archbishop of Ravenna, and shortly afterwards Anselm was appointed the first abbot by Pope Stephen II. In 756 the relics of Pope Sylvester I (reigned 314–35) were transferred from Rome to Nonantola, and the abbey received its present dedication.

Anselm spent the period from 760/61 to 773, during the reign of Desiderius, Aistulf’s successor, in exile at Monte Cassino. In 774 he returned with a number of manuscripts which formed the nucleus of the important medieval library at Nonantola. Anselm died in 803 and was buried in the church; he was succeeded by a number of Lombard abbots with Germanic names. In 885 the body of Pope Adrian III (reigned 884–5) was buried at the abbey. After a major fire, a reconstruction of the church of S Silvestro was begun in ...

Article

Maria Calderisi

Canadian firm of music publishers, dealers and piano manufacturers . It was established by Abraham and Samuel Nordheimer, who, having emigrated from Germany to New York in 1839, opened a music shop in Kingston in 1842 and moved to Toronto in June 1844. By 1845 they had issued Joseph Labitzky’s The Dublin Waltzes, the earliest engraved sheet music in Canada. Despite provision for copyright protection under Canadian law, many of the firm’s early publications were engraved in New York and registered there by agents; Nordheimer did not choose to begin registering works in Canada until 1859. That year the firm became the only Canadian member of the Board of Music Trade of the USA, and nearly 300 of its publications were included in the Board’s catalogue (1870).

A. & S. Nordheimer, as the company was first known, issued the usual reprints of popular European songs and piano pieces, as well as new works by such Canadian residents as J.P. Clarke, Crozier, Hecht, Lazare, Schallehn and Strathy. Publications registered between ...

Article

Anne Beetem Acker

British analogue synthesizer design and repair firm, established by Tony Allgood (b London, 1967) in 1996. Allgood started a synthesizer and sound equipment repair business, Sound Systems, in 1984, while he was still studying electrical engineering. He worked for Marconi and then Soundcraft for a time, then returned to university to train as a teacher, meanwhile continuing to design and repair synthesizers. He taught physics for five years before forming Oakley Sound Systems, based in his home in Cumbria. From 1999 to 2005 the business sold synthesizer modules and printed circuit boards (PCBs) of Allgood’s designs. In 2007, he handed merchandizing to a partner firm, Krisp1, run by Paul Darlow. Krisp1 supplies ready-made Oakley-designed modules in various formats including MOTM, Frac, and Euro. Oakley began to sell PCBs again in September 2010, allowing Darlow to concentrate on the ready-made modules. Allgood sells bare circuit boards to customers, supplying project designs on special web pages. He offers designs and boards for a wide range of oscillators, filters, amplifiers, effects, utility modules, envelope generators, and power suppliers, as well as two larger stand-alone projects, the TM3030 (a MIDI-controlled bassline unit) and the Filtrex II (an analogue filter rack). Allgood also composes and records synthesizer music under the name Takla Makan....

Article

Odell  

Barbara Owen

American firm of organ builders . It was founded (as J.H. & C.S. Odell) in 1859 by John Henry Odell (1830–99) and Caleb Sherwood Odell (1827–93) in New York. Before starting their own company, the Odell brothers had worked for Richard Ferris, and for William Robjohn, whom they succeeded. Although the firm's output was never great and was largely confined to the New York area, the Odells are credited with several important inventions, mostly patented during the 1860s and 1870s, including a reversible coupler action, an early combination action and a crescendo pedal. They were also early experimenters with tubular-pneumatic action, for which they obtained patents in 1872 and 1898. Among their more notable instruments were those built for the Fort Street Presbyterian Church, Detroit (1876), and Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, New York (1893). After the deaths of the founders, the firm was operated for a time by John Henry's son, George Washington Odell, under the name of J.H. & C.S. Odell & Co., and the scope of the company's work gradually narrowed to small organs, rebuilding and maintenance. William Henry Odell, son of Caleb, later operated the company with his sons Caleb H. (...