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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

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

Ernst Heins

revised by Andrew C. McGraw

[tanji]

Ensemble of Jakarta, Indonesia. It is an acculturated band whose music was heard formerly at festive occasions and processions in the streets of Jakarta, but by the 1970s only in the outskirts to the south and in the adjacent regions of Krawang (where it is also called orkes kompeni), Bekasi, and Tangerang. Similar ensembles have appeared in Palembang (South Sumatra) and Pontianak (West Kalimantan). The instruments of the tanjidor band are the Western clarinet, trumpet, cornet, euphonium (or tuba), trombone, bass and side drum (both called tambur), a small hand cymbal (kecrek) and large crash cymbal, both struck with metal beaters, and sometimes a small gong (kenong). The drums are typically struck with sticks, or by the hands when imitating Sundanese kendang. A helicon, tenor horns, saxophones, and violin may be added. The horns sometimes include locally constructed mouthpiece extensions that lower the fundamental pitches of the instruments. A singer may join when performing adapted ...

Article

Barbara Owen

American firm of organ builders. It was founded in 1977 in Middletown, Ohio, by George K. Taylor (b Richmond, VA, 26 April 1942) and John H. Boody (b Wakefield, MA, 1 March 1946). Taylor was apprenticed to Rudolph von Beckerath in Germany. He worked briefly on his own in 1969, and then with John Brombaugh from 1970 to 1977. Boody received his training with the Noack Organ Co. After two years in Ohio, the company moved to a larger workship in Staunton, Virginia. Taylor & Boody have made an extensive study of historic European organs and most of their instruments are based on the northern European style of the 17th and 18th centuries with regard to tonal and visual design. All Taylor & Boody organs have mechanical key and stop action, and employ flexible winding systems. Some of the firm’s notable organs include those built for Holy Cross College, Worcester, Massachusetts (...

Article

Teisco  

Anne Beetem Acker

Brand of inexpensive musical instruments owned by Kawai since 1967. Teisco grew from a firm originally called Aoi Onpa Kenkyujo, or Hollyhock Soundwave Laboratories, founded in 1946 by the guitarist Atswo Kaneko and electrical engineer Doryu Matsuda. The name was changed to Nippon Onpa Kogyo Co. in 1956 and to Teisco Co. in 1964. The Teisco brand name, first used in 1948, initially covered microphones, amplifiers, and a lap steel guitar. In 1952 the firm produced an acoustic Spanish guitar modelled after that of Gibson, with a microphone pickup. In 1954 Teisco introduced their first solid-body electric guitars, copied from a Les Paul design. The guitars were sold under various names at discount stores in the USA (as Teisco Del Rey, Kingston, Silvertone, Kent, Beltone, Duke, World Teisco) and the UK (as Arbiter, Sonatone, Audition, Kay, Top Twenty). In the early 1960s Teisco released the EB-1 bass electric guitar and began making electric guitars with unusual shapes. In ...

Article

Anne Beetem Acker

[touch-sensitive instruments]

Electronic instruments that respond to the location and sometimes the degree of pressure of the user’s fingers. Touch instruments, or touch instrument applications, are based upon software implemented on electronic visual displays, also known as touchscreens. Touchscreens detect the position of finger or stylus contact with the display area. Examples include Bebot, a touch synthesizer first released in 2008 by Russell Black for Normalware that features four-finger multi-touch polyphony and user-definable behaviour including sound-generation methods, delays, and either continuous pitch changes or various discrete scales. Pitch is determined by the horizontal position of the finger on the screen, while timbre or loudness is controlled by the vertical position. The touch instrument applications Pianist and Guitarist introduced by MooCowMusic Ltd in 2008, function as wireless MIDI digital instrument simulators, with keyboards, guitar necks, or tablature displayed on touchscreens that are played with the fingers.

Some touchscreens can also detect the degree of pressure, such as a screen made by Touchco Inc. used for the Linnstrument introduced in ...

Article

Uakti  

Laurence Libin

Brazilian ensemble notable for its use of novel acoustic instruments. The quintet, founded in 1978–9 by the composer, cellist, and instrument maker Marco Antônio Guimarães (b 10 Oct 1948), was named for a mythical being of the Tukano people, whose perforated body sounded as wind blew over it, and from whose grave grew palm trees from which flutes were made. Among Uakti’s many unconventional instruments, mostly made by Guimarães, are so-called Pans, graduated lengths of PVC tubing recalling the tubes of a panpipe but struck by hand or with mallets; marimbas with bars of construction lumber or glass, both types mounted above movable soundboxes; bowed string instruments including the Iarra, a kind of cello with two sets of strings that can be fingered simultaneously, the Chori Smetano, said by its creator, Guimaraes’s teacher Walter Smetak, to be able to evoke opposite feelings simultaneously, and the Torre, a PVC tube with strings stretched along it—the tube is turned on its axis by a handle while another person bows it, creating chords that vary with the speed of the turning and the number of strings bowed; and drums such as the Trilobyte, comprising 10 PVC tubes in a frame, with drum heads over the top openings, played melodically by two drummers. Uakti also employs conventional and traditional instruments of several cultures. The group’s success, for example in collaboration with Philip Glass, has led to imitation by other musicians seeking new sounds from familiar materials....