The ‘Multimonica I & II’, Siegfried Mager, Harald Bode, Germany, 1950

Bode's 'Multimonica'
‘Multimonica II’. The front panel controls of the Multimonica II, from left to right are: power switch and volume knob; six switches for different presets; tuning knob; two switches for different harmonic filtering; three switches for vibrato speed and amplitude; and power switch for the blower fan.
The ‘Hohner Multimonica’ was one of the first mass-produced analogue synthesisers. It was designed probably as early as 1940 but only came onto the market in Germany after the Second World War in the late 1940s. The instrument was marketed by the German company Hohner GmbH (known at the time for their acoustic harmoniums and mouth-organs) based on a design by Siegfried Mager (The son of German electronic music pioneer Jörg Mager) called the “Mager-Straube-Kleinorgel” (MAGER, SIEGFRIED, & CO.  Hacklandweg 9, Wuppertal-Elberfeld, Germany – closed in 1970) with circuitry designed by the engineer Harald Bode – an important figure in electronic instrument design who was hugely influential on future electronic instrument and synthesiser design.

The Multimonica was a  commercial hybrid electronic/acoustic instrument with two keyboards; the lower one a 41 note wind-blown reed harmonium instrument,  and the upper, an electronic monophonic sawtooth synthesiser. Housed in a modernist, streamlined black and white Bakelite casing, the instrument features a loudspeaker, tube-generated electromechanical vibrato, (The circuits were based on the Philips 13204 X, Philips EL41,  Telefunken EF41 tubes in the Multimonica I, and EL41; ECC40; EF40 tubes for the Multimonica II ) 6 pre-set synth sounds, 2 switches for harmonic filtering, and 3 switches for the vibrato speed and amplitude, as well as a knee lever for volume control – some versions of the Multimonica I even had a medium wave radio built in; presumably to allow the owner to play along to broadcast music.

The Multimonica II released in 1953 featured one loudspeaker and provided more types of harmonics filtering than the earlier Multimonica I, and the electro-mechanical vibrato was changed to a more sophisticated neon-gas-tube-based design.

The audio software company Precision Sound created a virtual Multimonica Digital instrument in 2014.

Images of the Multimonica II


“Living For Sound- The Inventor Harald Bode And The Evolution Of Electronic Music”

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