‘Graphic 1’ was an hybrid hardware-software graphic input system for digital synthesis that allowed note values to be written on a CRT computer monitor – although very basic by current standards, ‘Graphic 1’ was the precursor to most computer based graphic composition environments such as Cubase, Logic Pro, Ableton Live and others.
Graphic 1 was developed by William Ninke (plus Carl Christensen and Henry S. McDonald) at Bell labs for use by Max Mathews as a graphical front-end for MUSIC IV synthesis software to circumvent the lengthy and tedious process of adding numeric note values to the MUSIC program. 1 Interview with Max Mathews, Curtis Roads and Max Mathews. Computer Music Journal, The MIT Press, Vol. 4, No. 4 (Winter, 1980), 15-22.
” The Graphic 1 allows a person to insert pictures and graphs directly into a computer memory by the very act of drawing these objects…Moreover the power of the computer is available to modify, erase, duplicate and remember these drawings” 2 Thom Holmes, (2020), Electronic and Experimental Music Technology, Music, and Culture, Routledge, 275.
Graphic 2/ GRIN 2 was later developed in 1976 as a commercial design package based on a faster PDP2 computer and was sold by Bell and DEC as a computer-aided design system for creating circuit designs and logic schematic drawings.
Interview with Max Mathews, Curtis Roads and Max Mathews. Computer Music Journal, The MIT Press, Vol. 4, No. 4 (Winter, 1980), 15-22.
Thom Holmes, (2020), Electronic and Experimental Music Technology, Music, and Culture, Routledge, 275.
The ARP Synthesiser company was started by the engineer and musical enthusiast Alan Robert Pearlman – hence ‘ARP’ – in 1970 in Lexington, Massachusetts, USA. Previous to ARP, Pearlman had worked as an engineer at NASA and ran his own company Nexus Research laboratory Inc., a manufacturer of op-amps (precision circuits used in amplifiers and test equipment) which he sold in 1967 to fund the launch of the ARP company in 1969. The inspiration for ARP came after he played with both Moog and Buchla synthesisers and being unimpressed by the tuning instability of the oscillators and lack of commercial focus – especially the keyboardless Buchla Box – and became determined to produce a stable, friendly, commercial electronic instrument.1Trevor Pinch, Frank Trocco, (2004) Analog Days: The Invention and Impact of the Moog Synthesizer, Harvard University Press.
“If you would like to spend your time creatively, actively producing new music and sound, rather than fighting your way through a nest of cords, a maze of distracting apparatus, you’ll find the ARP uniquely efficient . . . matrix switch interconnection for patching without patch cords…P.S. The oscillators stay in tune.”
ARP Advert 1970
The companies first product was the ARP 2500, a large monophonic modular voltage-controlled synthesiser designed along similar lines to the Moog Modular series 100. The 2500 had a main cabinet holding up to 12 modules and two wing-extension adding another six modules each. The interface was designed to be as clear as possible to non-synthesists with a logically laid out front panel and, unlike the Buchla and Moog Modular, dispensed with patch cables in favour of a series of 10X10 slider matrices, leaving the front panel clear of cable clutter. The 2500 also came with a 10-step analogue sequencer far in advance of any other modular system of the day
Despite the fact that the 2500 proved to be an advanced, reliable and user-friendly machine with much more stable and superior oscillators to the Moog, it was not commercially successful, selling only approximately 100 units.
Modules of the ARP 25002Peter Forrest, (1994) The A-Z of Analogue Synthesizers, Susurreal Publishing, Devon, England
Type of Module
dual envelope generator
This module contains two ADSR envelope generators (actually labeled “Attack”, “Initial Decay”, “Sustain”, and “Final Decay”), each switchable between single or multiple triggering. There is a manual gate button as well as a front panel input for gate/trigger and a back panel input for a sustain pedal.
dual envelope generator
(same as 1003, except re-positioned trigger switches and gate buttons)
A Voltage Controlled Oscillator with a range from 0.03Hz to 16kHz, this module can function as a VCO or an LFO. It features separate outputs for each of its five waveforms (sine, triangle, square, sawtooth, and pulse) and 6 CV (control voltage) inputs, as well as a CV input for Pulse Width Modulation.
This module is the same as the 1004, except each waveform has its own attenuation knob for mixing all the waveforms together. There is a separate output to for the mixed waveforms.
This module is the same as the 1004, except each waveform has its own rocker switch to route any or all of the waveforms to an extra mix output.
This module is the same as the 1004r, except it uses toggle switches.
VCA andRing Modulator
This module is half Voltage Controlled Amplifier and half Balanced (Ring) Modulator. It is switchable between linear or exponential voltage control, and features 11 inputs, 3 outputs, and illuminated push-buttons.
VCF and VCA
The Voltage Controlled Filter (24dB/octave, low-pass, with resonance) and Voltage Controlled Amplifier (switchable between linear and exponential) in one module
This module routes two jack inputs to any of the upper ten lines of the lower matrix. (Remember, most of the patching for this instrument is done from these matrix sliders).
dual noise generators
This module features two random voltage generators outputting white or pink noise and two slow sample-and-hold circuits, four outputs in all.
Both oscillators feature the same waveforms as 1004 with a switch for high and low frequency ranges. There are a total of 10 control inputs and 2 audio outputs.
Preset Voltage module
This module contains eight manually or sequencer-driven gated control-voltages, each with two knobs sending control voltages to separate outputs. It can be connected, via the rear panel, to module 1027 Sequencer or module 1050 Mix-Sequencer.
This is a 10X3 sequencer with 14 outputs (including 10 separate position/step gates), 6 inputs, buttons for step and reset, and a knobs for pulse repetition/width, which controls the silence between the steps.
Dual Delayed-Trigger Envelope Generator
This module is the same as the 1003 ADSR module except it has two more knobs to control gate delay.
Sample-and-Hold / random voltage
This all-in-one module contains a VCO, VCF, VCA, and two ADSR envelope generators, as well as 16 inputs, and four outputs. (Note: Most modules feature a spelling mistake “Resanance” instead of “Resonance”.)
quad envelope generator
This module is basically a 1003 and a 1033 combined into one module.
Multimode Filter / Resonator
This module features 15 inputs, 4 outputs and an overload warning light.
This module features two 4X1 mixers with illuminated on/off buttons.
This keyboard features a 5-octave, 61-note (C-C) keyboard with the bottom two octaves (C-B) reverse colored to show the keyboard split. The top half of the keyboard is duophonic. There are separate CV (1v/octave), gate, and trigger outputs for each side of the split, as well as separate panels on either side of the keyboard with controls for portamento, tuning, and pitch interval.
The ARP 2600 was designed to be a commercially viable portable, semi-modular analog subtractive synthesiser with built in modules i.e. a versatile but not-too-complicated synthesiser, targeted at the educational market; schools, universities and so-on. The inbuilt modules could be patched using a combination of patch cables or by using sliders to control internally hard wired connections:
“ARP 2600 The ultimate professional-quality portable synthesizer Equally at home in the electronic music studio or on stage, the ARP 2600 provides the incredible new sounds in today’s leading rock bands The 2600 is also owned by many of the most prestigious universities and music schools in the world Powerful. dependable, and easy to play. the 2600 can be played without patchcords or modified with patch cords. This arrangement provides maximum speed and convenience for live performance applications, as well as total programming flexibility for teaching, research composition and recording. An pre-wired patch connection(s) can be overridden by simply inserting a patchcord into the appropriate jack on the front panel.
The ARP 2600 is easily expanded and can be used with the ARP 2500 series.Renowned for its electronic superiority, the oscillators and filters in the 2600 are the most stable and accurate available anywhere Accompanied by the comprehensive, fully illustrated owner s manual, the ARP 2600 is recognized as the finest, most complete portable synthesizer made today
3 Voltage Controlled Oscillators 03 Hz to 20 KHz in two ranges Five waveforms include: variable-width pulse. triangle. sine, square, and sawtooth
1 Voltage Controlled Lowpass filter Variable resonance, DC coupled. Doubles as a low distortion sine oscillator.
1 Voltage Controlled Amplifier Exponential and linear control response characteristics
1 Ring Modulator. AC or DC coupled
2 Envelope Generators.
1 Envelope Follower.
1 Random Noise Generator. Output continuously variable from flat to -6db/octave
1 Electronic Switch, bidirectional
1 Sample & Hold with internal clock.
1 General purpose Mixer and Panpot.
1 Voltage Processor with variable lag.
2 Voltage Processors with inverters
1 Reverberation unit. Twin uncorrelated stereo outputs
2 Built-in monitoring amplifiers and speakers, with standard stereo 8-ohm headphone jack.
1 Microphone Preamp with adjustable gain
1 Four-octave keyboard with variable tuning. variable portamento, variable tone interval, and precision memory circuit.
DIMENSIONS: Console 32″ x 18″ x 9x Keyboard 35″ x 10″ x 6″ WEIGHT: 58 Ibs” 3ARP 2600 Promotional material 1971
ARP 2800 ‘Odyssey’ 1972
By the mid-1970s ARP had become the dominant synthesiser manufacturer, with a 40 percent share of the $25 million market. This was due to Pearlman’s gift for publicity – the ARP2500 famously starred in the film ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ (1977) as well as product endorsements by famous rock starts; Stevie Wonder, Pete Townsend, Herbie Hanckock and so-on – and the advent of reliable, simpler, commercial instrument designs such as the ARP 2800 ‘Odyssey’ in 1972.
The ARP 2800 ‘Odyssey’ 1972-1981
The Odyssey was ARP’s response to Moog’s ‘Minimoog’; a portable, user-friendly, affordable performance synthesiser; essentially a scaled down version of the 2600 with built in keyboard – a form that was to dominate the synthesiser market for the next twenty years or so.
The Odyssey was equipped with two oscillators and was one of the first synthesisers to have duo-phonic capabilities. Unlike the 2600 there were no patch ports, instead all of the modules were hard wired and routable and controllable via sliders and button son the front panel. ‘Modules’ consisted of two Voltage Controlled Oscillators (switchable between sawtooth, square, and pulse waveforms) a resonant low-pass filter, a non-resonant high-pass filter, Ring Modulator, noise generator (pink/white) ADSR and AR envelopes, a triangle and square wave LFO, and a sample-and-hold function. The later Version III model had a variable expression keyboard allowing flattening or sharpening of the pitch and the addition of vibrato depending on key pressure and position.4Mark Vail, (2000), Vintage Synthesizers: Pioneering Designers, Groundbreaking Instruments, Collecting Tips, Mutants of Technology, 2000 by Backbeat Books.
ARP Production model timeline 1969-1981:
1969 – ARP 2002 Almost identical to the ARP 2500, except that the upper switch matrix had 10 buses instead of 20.
1974 – ARP Explorer (small, portable, monophonic preset, programmable sounds)
1975 – ARP Little Brother (monophonic expander module)
1975 – ARP Omni (polyphonic string synthesiser )
1975 – ARP Axxe (pre-patched single oscillator analog synthesiser)
1975 – ARP String Synthesiser (a combination of the String Ensemble and the Explorer)
1977 – ARP Pro/DGX (small, portable, monophonic preset, aftertouch sensitive synthesiser – updated version of Pro Soloist)
1977 – ARP Omni-2 (polyphonic string synthesiser with rudimentary polyphonic synthesiser functions – updated version of Omni)
1977 – ARP Avatar (an Odyssey module fitted with a guitar pitch controller)
1978 – ARP Quadra (4 microprocessor-controlled analog synthesisers in one)
1979 – ARP Sequencer (analog music sequencer)
1979 – ARP Quartet (polyphonic orchestral synthesiser not manufacted by ARP – just bought in from Siel and rebadged )
1980 – ARP Solus (pre-patched analog monophonic synthesiser)
1981 – ARP Chroma (microprocessor controlled analog polyphonic synthesiser – sold to CBS/Rhodes when ARP closed)
The demise of ARP Instruments was brought about by disorganised management and the decision to invest heavily in a guitar style synthesiser, the ARP Avatar. Although this was an innovative and groundbreaking instrument it failed to sell and ARP were never able to recoup the development costs. ARP filed for bankruptcy in 1981.5and fall of ARP instruments’ By Craig R. Waters with Jim Aikin
Trevor Pinch, Frank Trocco, (2004) Analog Days: The Invention and Impact of the Moog Synthesizer, Harvard University Press.
Peter Forrest, (1994) The A-Z of Analogue Synthesizers, Susurreal Publishing, Devon, England
ARP 2600 Promotional material 1971
Mark Vail, (2000), Vintage Synthesizers: Pioneering Designers, Groundbreaking Instruments, Collecting Tips, Mutants of Technology, 2000 by Backbeat Books.
and fall of ARP instruments’ By Craig R. Waters with Jim Aikin
In 1954 the electronic engineer and pioneering instrument designer Harald Bode moved from his home in Bavaria, Germany to Brattleboro, Vermont, USA to lead the development team at the Estey Organ Co, working on developing his instrument the ‘Bode Organ’ as the prototype for the new Estey Organ. As a sideline Bode set up his own home workshop in 1959 to develop his ideas for a completely new and innovative instrument “A New Tool for the Exploration of Unknown Electronic Music Instrument Performances”. Bode’s objective was to produce a device that could included everything needed for film and TV audio production; soundtracks, sound design and audio processing– perhaps inspired by Oskar Sala’s successful (and lucrative ) film work, such as on Alfred Hitchcock ‘The Birds’ (1963).
Bode’s new idea was to create a modular device where different components could be connected as needed; and in doing so created the first modular synthesiser – a concept that was copied sometime later by Robert Moog and Donald Buchla amongst others. The resulting instrument the ‘Audio System Synthesiser’ allowed the user to connect multiple devices such as Ring modulators, Filters, Reverb Generators etc in any order to modify or generate sounds. The sound could be recorded to tape, mixes or further processing; “A combination of well-known devices enabled the creation of new sounds” (Bode 1961)
Bode wrote a description of the Audio System Synthesiser in the December 1961 issue of Electronics Magazine and demonstrated it at the Audio Engineering Society (AES), a convention for the electro-acoustics industry in New York in 1960. In the audience was a young Robert Moog who was at the time running a business selling Theremin Kits. Inspired by Bode’s ideas Moog designed the famous series of Moog modular synthesisers. Bode would later license modules to be included in Moog modular systems including a Vocoder, Ring Modulator, filter and Pitch shifter as well as producing a number of components which were widely used in electronic music studios during the 196os
Text from the 1961 edition of Electronics Magazine
New sounds and musical effects can be created either by synthesizing acoustical phenomena, by processing natural or artificial (usually electronically generated) sounds, or by applying both methods. Processing acoustical phenomena often results in substantial deviations from the original.
Production of new sounds or musical effects can be made either by intermediate or immediate processing methods. Some methods of intermediate processing may include punched tapes for control of the parameters of a sound synthesizer, and may also include such tape recording procedures as reversal, pitch-through-speed changes, editing and dubbing.
Because of the time differential between production and performance when using the intermediate process, the composer-performer cannot immediately hear or judge his performance, therefore corrections can be made only after some lapse of time. Immediate processing techniques present no such problems.
Methods of immediate processing include spectrum and envelope shaping, change of pitch, change of overtone structure including modification from harmonic to nonharmonic overtone relations, application of periodic modulation effects, reverberation, echo and other repetition phenomena.
The output of the ring-bridge modulator shown in Figure 2a yields the sum and differences of the frequencies applied to its two inputs but contains neither input frequency. This feature has been used to create new sounds and effects. Figure 2b shows a tone applied to input 1 and a group of harmonically related frequencies applied to input 2. The output spectrum is shown in Figure 2c.
Due to operation of the ring-bridge modulator, the output frequencies are no longer harmonically related to each other. If a group of properly related frequencies were applied to both inputs and a percussive-type envelope were applied to the output signal, a bell-like tone would be produced.
In a more general presentation, the curves of Figure 3 show the variety of tone spectra that may be derived with a gliding frequency between 1 cps and 10 kcps applied to one and two fixed 440 and 880 cps frequencies (in octave relationship) applied to the other input of the ring-bridge modulator. The output frequencies are identified on the graph.
Frequencies applied to the ring-bridge modulator inputs are not limited to the audio range. Application of a subsonic frequency to one input will periodically modulate a frequency applied to the other. Application of white noise to one input and a single audio frequency to the other input will yield tuned noise at the output. Application of a percussive envelope to one input simultaneously with a steady tone at the other input will result in a percussive-type output that will have the characteristics of the steady tone modulated by the percussive envelope.
The unit shown in Figure 4 provides congruent envelope shaping as well as the coincident percussive envelope shaping of the program material. One input accepts the control signal while the other input accepts the material to be subjected to envelope shaping. The processed audio appears at the output of the gating circuit.
To derive control voltages for the gating functions, the audio at the control input is amplified, rectified and applied to a low-pass filter. Thus, a relatively ripple-free variable DC bias will actuate the variable gain, push-pull amplifier gate. When switch S1 is in the gating position, the envelope of the control signal shapes that of the program material.
To prevent the delay caused by C1 and C2 on fast-changing control voltages, and to eliminate asymmetry caused by the different output impedances at the plate and cathode of V2, relatively high-value resistors R3 and R4 are inserted between phase inverter V2 and the push-pull output of the gate circuit. These resistors are of the same order of magnitude as biasing resistors R1 and R2 to secure a balance between the control DC signal and the audio portion of the program material.
The input circuits of V5 and V6 act as a high-pass filter. The cutoff frequency of these filters exceeds that of the ripple filter by such an amount that no disturbing audio frequency from the control input will feed through to the gate. This is important for clean operation of the percussive envelope circuit. The pulses that initiate the percussive envelopes are generated by Schmitt trigger V9 and V10. Positive-going output pulses charge C5 (or C5 plus C6 or C7 chosen by S2) with the discharge through R5. The time constant depends on the position of S2.
To make the trigger circuit respond to the beginning of a signal as well as to signal growth, differentiator C3 and R6 plus R7 is used at the input of V9. The response to signal growth is especially useful in causing the system to yield to a crescendo in a music passage or to instants of accentuation in the flow of speech frequencies.
The practical application of the audio-controlled percussion device within a system for the production of new musical effects is shown in Figure 5. The sound of a bongo drum triggers the percussion circuit, which in turn converts the sustained chords played by the organ into percussive tones. The output signal is applied to a tape-loop repetition unit that has four equally spaced heads, one for record and three for playback. By connecting the record head and playback head 2 in parallel, output A is produced. By connecting playback head 1 and playback head 3 in parallel, output B is produced, and a distinctive ABAB pattern may be achieved. Outputs A and B can be connected to formant filters having different resonance frequencies.
The number of repetitions may be extended if a feedback loop is inserted between playback head 2 and the record amplifier. The output voltages of the two filters and the microphone preamplifier are applied to a mixer in which the ratio of drum sound to modified percussive organ sound may be controlled.
The program material originating from the melody instrument is applied to one of the inputs of the audio-controlled gate and percussion unit. There it is gated by the audio from a percussion instrument. The percussive melody sounds at the output of the gate are applied to the tape-loop repetition system. Output signal A — the direct signal and the information from playback head 2 — is applied through amplifier A and filter 1 to the mixer. Output signal B — the signals from playback heads 1 and 3 — is applied through amplifier B to one input of the ring-bridge modulator. The other ring-bridge modulator input is connected to the output of an audio signal generator.
The mixed and frequency-converted signal at the output of the ring-bridge modulator is applied through filter 2 to the mixer. At the mixer output a percussiveABAB signal (stemming from a single melody note, triggered by a single drum signal) is obtained. In its A portion it has the original melody instrument pitch while its B portion is the converted nonharmonic overtone structure, both affected by the different voicings of the two filters. When the direct drum signal is applied to a third mixer input, the output will sound like a voiced drum with an intricate aftersound. The repetition of the ABAB pattern may be extended by a feedback loop between playback head two and the record amplifier.
When applying the human singing voice to the input of the fundamental frequency selector, the extracted fundamental pitch may be distorted in the squaring circuit and applied to the frequency divider (or dividers). This will derive a melody line whose pitch will be one octave lower than that of the singer. The output of the frequency divider may then be applied through a voicing filter to the program input of the audio-controlled gate and percussion unit. The control input of this circuit may be actuated by the original singing voice, after having passed through a low-pass filter of such a cutoff frequency that only vowels —typical for syllables — would trigger the circuit. At the output of the audio-controlled gate, percussive sounds with the voicing of a string bass will be obtained mixed with the original voice of the singer. The human voice output signal will now be accompanied by a coincident string bass sound which may be further processed in the tape-loop repetition unit. The arbitrarily selected electronic modules of this synthesizer are of a limited variety and could be supplemented by other modules.
A system synthesizer may find many applications such as exploration of new types of electronic music or as a tool for composers who are searching for novel sounds and musical effects. Such a device will present a challenge to the imagination of composer-programmer. The modern approach of synthesizing intricate electronic systems from modules with a limited number of basic functions has proven successful in the computer field. This approach has now been made in the area of sound synthesis. With means for compiling any desired modular configuration, an audio system synthesizer could become a flexible and versatile tool for sound processing and would be suited to meet the ever-growing demand for exploration and production of new sounds.
The Pattern Playback was not a musical instrument as such but an early hardware device designed to synthesise and analyse speech, designed and built by Dr. Franklin S. Cooper and his colleagues, including John M. Borst and Caryl Haskins, at Haskins Laboratories in the late 1940s and completed in 1950.
The device converted a picture or ‘spectrogram’ of a sound back in to sound. The ‘Pattern Playback’ machine functioned in a very similar way to the Russian ANS Synthesiser using a photo-electrical system; a mercury arc-light was projected through a rotating glass disc printed with fifty harmonics of a fundamental frequency as a way of generating a range of tones. The light is then projected through an acetate ‘black and transparent’ spectrogram image that lets through the portions of light that carry frequencies corresponding to the spectrogram. The resulting ‘filtered’ light hits a photo-voltaic cell which generated the final audible sound .
Several versions of the device were built at Haskins Laboratories and used up until 1976. The Pattern Playback now resides in the Museum at Haskins Laboratories in New Haven, Connecticut.
The Baldwin organ was an electronic organ, many models of which have been manufactured by the Baldwin Piano & Organ Co. since 1946. The original models were designed by Dr Winston E. Kock who became the company’s director of electronic research after his return from his studies at the Heinrich-Hertz-Institute, Berlin, in 1936. The organ was a development of Kock’s Berlin research with the GrosstonOrgel using the same neon-gas discharge tubes to create a stable, affordable polyphonic instrument. The Baldwin Organ were based on an early type of subtractive synthesis; the neon discharge tubes generating a rough sawtooth wave rich in harmonics which was then modified by formant filters to the desired tone.
Another innovative aspect of the Baldwin Organ was the touch sensitive keyboard designed to create a realistic variable note attack similar to a pipe organ. As the key was depressed, a curved metal strip progressively shorted out a carbon resistance element to provide a gradual rather than sudden attack (and decay) to the sound. This feature was unique at that time, and it endowed the Baldwin instrument with an unusually elegant sound which captivated many musicians of the day.
“How did it sound? I have played Baldwin organs at a time when they were still marketed and in my opinion, for what it is worth, they were pretty good in relative terms. That is to say, they sounded significantly better on the whole than the general run of analogue organs by other manufacturers, and they were only beaten by a few custom built instruments in which cost was not a factor. It would not be true to say they sounded as good as a good digital organ today, but they compared favourably with the early Allen digitals in the 1970’s. Nor, of course, did they sound indistinguishable from a pipe organ, but that is true for all pipeless organs. To my ears they also sounded much better and more natural than the cloying tone of the more expensive Compton Electrone which, like the Hammond, also relied on attempts at additive synthesis with insufficient numbers of harmonics.”
From ‘Winston Kock and the Baldwin Organ; by Colin Pykett
Kock’s 1938 Patent of the Baldwin organ
Winston E. Kock Biographical Details:
Winston Kock was born into a German-American family in 1909 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Despite being a gifted musician he decided to study electrical engineering at Cincinnati university and in his 20’s designed a highly innovative, fully electronic organ for his master’s degree.
The major problem of instrument design during the 1920’s and 30’s was the stability and cost of analogue oscillators. Most commercial organ ventures had failed for this reason; a good example being Givelet & Coupleux’s huge valve Organ in 1930. it was this reason that Laurens Hammond (and many others) decided on Tone-Wheel technology for his Hammond Organs despite the inferior audio fidelity.
Kock had decided early on to investigate the possibility of producing a commercially viable instrument that was able to produce the complexity of tone possible from vacuum tubes. With this in mind, Kock hit upon the idea of using much cheaper neon ‘gas discharge’ tubes as oscillators stabilised with resonant circuits. This allowed him to design an affordable, stable and versatile organ.
In the 1930’s Kock, fluent in German, went to Berlin to study On an exchange fellowship (curiously, the exchange was with Sigismund von Braun, Wernher von Braun’s eldest brother –Kock was to collaborate with Wernher twenty five years later at NASA) at the Heinrich Hertz Institute conducting research for a doctorate under Professor K W Wagner. At the time Berlin, and specifically the Heinrich Hertz Institute, was the global centre of electronic music research. Fellow students and professors included; Jörg Mager, Oskar Vierling, Fritz Sennheiser, Bruno Helberger, Harald Bode, Friedrich Trautwein, Oskar Sala and Wolja Saraga amongst others. Kock’s study was based around two areas: – improving the understanding of glow discharge (neon) oscillators, and developing realistic organ tones using specially designed filter circuits.
Kock worked closely with Oskar Vierling for his Phd and co-designed the GrosstonOrgel in 1934 but disillusioned by the appropriation of his work by the newly ascendant Nazi party he decided to leave for India, sponsored by the Baldwin Organ Company arriving at the Indian Institute of Music in Bangalore in 1935.
Returning from India in 1936, Dr Kock became Baldwin’s Director of Research while still in his mid-twenties, and with J F Jordan designed many aspects of their first electronic organ system which was patented in 1941.
When the USA entered the second world war Kock moved to Bell Telephone Laboratories where he was involved on radar research and specifically microwave antennas. In the mid-1950’s he took a senior position in the Bendix Corporation which was active in underwater defence technology. He moved again to become NASA’s first Director of Engineering Research, returning to Bendix in 1966 where he remained until 1971 when he became Acting Director of the Hermann Schneider Laboratory of the University of Cincinatti. Kock Died in Cincinatti in 1982.
Winston Kock was a prolific writer of scientific books but he also wrote fiction novels under the pen name of Wayne Kirk.
Hugh Davies. The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians
The Westinghouse Organ was a semi-polyphonic multi vacuum tubed electronic organ designed by the research engineer Richard. C. Hitchcock for Westinghouse Electric Manufacturing Company, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania USA. The organ was played on a three octave manual keyboard using a foot pedal for volume control. Hitchcock’s instrument allowed control of each note’s timbre by employing multiple vacuum tubes for each note to create adjustable natural harmonics of the fundamental note. The organ also had an electrical motor driven tremolo unit to shape the sound:
“…no previously known musical instruments. of the type to which my invention pertains, were provided with adequate means for tone and volume-control and, consequently, they were incapable of reproducing musical compositions with the same tone-color and nuances of expression that could be obtained with pipe-organs and pianos. In addition, the limitations of previously known electrical musical instruments were such as to preclude their proper tuning and they could not be satisfactorily utilized in orchestras wherein the other instruments were tuned to the tempered scale. It is, accordingly, an object of my invention to provide an electrical musical ‘instrument wherein each note of the scale shall be accompanied by the harmonic frequencies necessary to give it the requisite color.”
R.C.Hitchcock Patent Application 1930
The ‘Electric radio Organ’ was built to test the practicality of broadcasting electronic organ music over the radio rather than recording real pipe organs on-location with with the primitive microphones of the day (similar to the ‘Givelet Coupleaux’ Organ in France). The organ’s debut was at Pittsburgh’s KDKA radio station in 1930.
A New Instrument, Called a Radio Organ, is Demonstrated in Concert by Dr. Heinroth. United Press Staff Correspondent. PITTSBURGH, Jan. 23.
The squeals and squawks that are the bane of radio fans have been brought under control and combined in music rivalling that of the pipe organ. The new instrument, in fact, Is called a radio organ, and SO oscillating vacuum tubes replace the pipes. The first concert on the radio organ was played by Dr. Charles Heinroth, noted musician of Carnegie Institute, and though the event was not without a few impromptu notes, the half hour program amply demonstrated that the noise of radio tubes can be made beautiful. The radio organ is the product of the genius of R. C. Hitchcock of the Research Department, Westinghouse The keyboard is like that of a regular three-octave organ and foot pedals to control the volume are provided.” The touch of a key plays the proper note ‘by causing one of the’ tubes to oscillate. The electric impulses thus set up may then he carried directly to a loud speaker which transforms them into sound. But they need not be transformed into sound at once, and this fact is held to open a vast realm of possibilities for the radio organ.. For instance, the music that is to say, the electrical impulses set up by the oscillating tubes may be broadcast without use of a microphone and not become audible until it is picked tip on the receiving sets. Likewise the possibility of a central organ with the music wired to several churches or theatres may -be easily be envisioned. Another advantage of the radio organ is that all the mechanism of the instrument may be placed in a basement room, with only the keyboard visible.
The News-Herald. Franklin, Pennsylvania January 23, 1930 · Page 5
Dr. Richard Hitchcock of Westinghouse sits on top of “junior” the portable Van de Graaff generator
The History of the Organ in the United States. Orpha C. Ochse
Radio News 1931, on ‘The Electrical Future Of Music.’
Popular science monthly. May 1930.p35
Electronic and Experimental Music: Technology, Music, and Culture . Thom Holmes
The Hardy-Goldthwaite organ was a type of early analogue sampler, similar to the Welte Licht-Ton Orgel, The Superpiano and several other photo-electrical instruments of the period and was developed by the physicists Arthur Hardy and Sherwood Brown at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology at the request of DuVal R. Goldthwaite, chairman of the Interchemical Corporation (who apparently had originated the concept after working with Hardy on colour and ink chemistry). At the heart of the instrument was a single optical disc of photographed sound waves. The discs, created from translations of original instrumental sounds, rotate between a light a slit and a photo-electrical cell generating voltage outputs of various timbres. A small three octave manual keyboard operated a shutter within the instrument that projected a light beam through the specific tone on the disc correlating to the key’s pitch.
The instrument was said to be able to produce the timbres of an organ, trumpet, piano and strings – with the possibility of reproducing any sound that could be recorded to the glass disc.
Arthur C. Hardy born Worcester, Massachusetts:1895 died: 1977.
Arthur Hardy was a physicist best know for his work with spectrometers and colour analysers and was the author of the default text on the subject ‘The Principles of Optics’ . After the WWI Hardy worked at Kodak Research Labs and then transferred to Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he became chair of MIT’s physics department.
Hardy became president of the Optical Society of America from 1935-36 and in 1935 Hardy filed a patent for the first spectrophotometer – a device for measuring and recording colour values. It could detect two million different shades of colour and make a permanent record chart of the results. The patent was assigned to the General Electric Company of Schenectady, N.Y. which sold the first machine on 24 May 1935. It used a photo-electric device to receive light alternately from a sample and from a standard for comparison.
After the outbreak of WWII Hardy founded the ‘Visibility Laboratory’ which focused on applying optics to such problems as camouflage, misdirection of aerial bombardment, target location, visibility of submerged objects at sea.
‘A History of Sampling’ (Hugh Davies)
Electronic and Experimental Music: Technology, Music, and Culture. Thom Holmes
The Mastersonic Organ was an improved tone wheel organ designed to produce more accurate pipe organ sounds. The designers, John Goodell and Ellsworth Swedien, discovered that if they shaped the tone-wheel ‘pickups’ they could induce tones with different ‘natural’ harmonic content – rather than attempt to create a pure sine wave and artificially colour it as in the Hammond Organ. To achieve this the Mastersonic had individually shaped magnets for each tone wheel sound; a “string” magnet, a “flute” magnet, a “diapason” magnet, and so on.
“…There were twelve shafts with seven pitch wheels each which rotated near the irregularly shaped magnets wound with coils. Each of the pitch wheels contained twice as many rectangular teeth as the preceding one, so seven octaves were produced per shaft. Several differently shaped poles were dispersed radially around each wheel.”
Alan Conway Ashton electronics, Music and Computers
Each tone-wheel was shielded against magnetic interference from the other, adding to the bulk and complexity of the instrument. The instrument was controlled by a seven octave special keyboard, designed to simulate attack envelopes. The resulting sound was indeed a much more accurate pipe organ sound but at the expense of size; the Mastersonic was a huge, complex and expensive machine and few were built or sold.
‘Microsound’ Curtis Roads MIT 2001
ELECTRONICS, MUSIC AND COMPUTERS. Alan Conway Ashton. December 1971 UTEC-CSc-71-117
The Allen Computer Organ was one of the first commercial digital instruments, developed by Rockwell International (US military technology company) and built by the Allen Organ Co in 1971. The organ used an early form of digital sampling allowing the user to chose pre-set voices or edit and store sounds using an IBM style punch-card system.
The sound itself was generated from MOS (Metal Oxide Silicon) boards. Each MOS board contained 22 LSI (Large Scale Integration) circuit boards (miniaturised photo-etched silicon boards containing thousands of transistors – based on technology developed by Rockwell International for the NASA space missions of the early 70’s) giving a total of 48,000 transistors; unheard of power for the 1970’s.
The Triadex Muse was an idiosyncratic sequencer based synthesiser produced in 1972. Designed by Edward Fredkin and the cognitive scientist Marvin Minsky at MIT, the Muse used a deterministic event generator that powered by early digital integrated circuits to generate an audio output. The Muse was not intended as a musical instrument per-se but as a compositional tool (as well as an artificial intelligence experiment), therefore the audio output was left purposefully simple; a monophonic square-wave bleep. The Muse was designed to be connected to a number of other Triadex units – an Amplifier and speaker module, a Multi-Muse Cable (used to link multiple Muses together), and a Light Show module; a colour sequencer whose 4 coloured lamps blink in time to the Muse’s signals, using Triadex’s own proprietary standard (therefore they were unable to connect to any other voltage controlled instrument)
The Muse had no keyboard control but a series of eight slider each with forty set positions. Four of the sliders controlled the interval between notes, and the other four controlled the overall sequence ‘theme’. Visual feedback was provided by a series of displays next to the sliders showing the status of the logic gates. Another set of sliders control the volume from the internal speaker, the tempo of the sequence, and the pitch. Additional switches allow you to start the sequence from the beginning, step through it note-by-note, or substitute a rest point in place of the lowest note.