The ‘Ondium Péchadre’ Henri Camille Robert Péchadre. France, 1929

The Ondium played by
The Ondium played by the Pianist Gaston Wiener. (‘L’Ouest Eclair’ 1931)

The Ondium Péchadre was developed in France by  Henri Camille Robert Péchadre in 1929. The instrument was a monophonic heterodyning vacuum tube oscillator based instrument built into a light and portable heart shaped box, in performance the base of the instrument rested on the players knees and the instrument was supported against a table. The seven octave range of the instrument was controlled by moving a pointer around a circular calibrated dial while the left hand controlled the volume of the sound with a velocity sensitive push button device. The attack and timbre of the sound wave could be altered to give a more staccato effect or softened to give a more string like sound.

The indium described in 'Le Menestrel' in 1933
The Ondium as described in ‘Le Menestrel’ in 1933

As with other similar instruments, The Ondium output sound to an amplifier and loudspeaker but, uniquely, was also able to transmit sounds directly via radio waves to a radio receiver or network.


“The Ondium we can report, is of the family of radio-electronic instruments similar to developments by Martenot and others. It differs however in by some points, in particular by this one; The Ondium is the only device of this kind that can be picked up  by radio.”

Gaston Wiener quoted from ‘L’Ouest-Éclair’ 1935.

Péchadre toured with the Ondium throughout France in the 1930s where, accompanied by an orchestra, he commissioned well known musicians (Gaston Wiener, pianist, Jacques Serres, cellist and Georges Hugo, pianist)  to perform popular classical works by Saint-Saëns, Mozart, Delibes and others as well as surprising the audience with the instruments versatility by imitating bird song.

The Ondium Péchadre played by it's inventor Msr Péchadre in 1930 (from 'Un appareil de musique radioélectrique; l'ondium Péchadre' by E.-WEISS.)
The Ondium Péchadre played by it’s inventor Msr Péchadre in 1930 (from ‘Un appareil de musique radioélectrique; l’ondium Péchadre’ by E.-WEISS.)
The Ondium with back cover removed showing control levers and tone generators. (from 'Un appareil de musique radioélectrique; l'ondium Péchadre' by E. WEISS.)
The Ondium with back cover removed showing control levers and tone generators. (from ‘Un appareil de musique radioélectrique; l’ondium Péchadre’ by E. WEISS.)

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Sources:

‘Le Ménestrel’ Paris 1933.

‘L’Ouest Eclair’ Rennes. 29/10/1931 number 12775.

‘Un appareil de musique radioélectrique; l’ondium Péchadre’ by E. WEISS. La Nature N° 2837 – 15 juillet 1930 Pages 64-65

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