The ‘Givelet’ or ‘Coupleux-Givelet Organ’ Armand Givelet & Edouard Eloi Coupleux, France. 1930

Armand Givelet & Edouard Coupleux at the paper-punch controls of the 'Givelet'
Armand Givelet & Edouard Coupleux at the paper-punch controls of the ‘Givelet’ c1932

The last instrument of the Givelet – Coupleaux collaboration was the ‘Coupleaux -Givelet Organ’ or ‘Givelet’. The Givelet was a unique instrument that combined vacuum tube oscillators with a sound control system using a punched paper roll in a way similar to a player piano to define the sound synthesis. Pitch, volume, attack, envelope, tremolo and timbre could be controlled by cutting and splicing paper rolls and like the “Wave Organ“, the Givelet was polyphonic. The technique of using punched paper “programs” was not exploited until fifteen years later in the 1950’s with the RCA Synthesiser.  Givelets and Coupleaux’s instrument was designed to be a commercial and cheap replacement for pipe organs and utilise the ability for ‘silent recording’ or direct injection into radio transmitter. The Givelets were installed in churches around France and at a broadcasting radio station in Paris. The Givelet eventually lost out commercially to the more efficient and less complex  Hammond Organ.

Givelet of 1930
The Givelet-Coupleux Organ of 1930 played by Armand Givelet

Patent Documents


A.J.Givelet: ‘Les Instruments de Musique à oscillations électriques: Le Clavier à Lampes ‘, Génie civil, xciii(1928)

One thought on “The ‘Givelet’ or ‘Coupleux-Givelet Organ’ Armand Givelet & Edouard Eloi Coupleux, France. 1930”

  1. According to me, this description corresponds to the 1929 first (and so not the last ?) instrument from the collaboration between Armand Givelet and Eloy Coupleux. Its principle is described in the 1,957,392 American patent (filed in April 1930 / May 1929 in France) with the name “Automatic Electrical Musical Instrument”. The prototype was the union of a player piano mechanism (the company Coupleux Frères was an importer of Pianola in France) and five Givelet “clavier à lampe” devices (tuned as a string quintet). A successful demo was given in Paris at “Salle Pleyel” on 16 November 1929 during the “Congrès National de Radiodiffusion”. Thereafter, they abandoned the “automatic” aspect to focus on the “polyphonic and multi-timbral” aspect and developed their “orgue des ondes”.

    Remark : the Canadian patent herein (about the Coupleux-Givelet organ) has nothing to do with this “automatic instrument” (as well as the document indicated in sources which is about the 1927 Givelet “clavier à lampe”)

    Thank you for this extremely rich website !

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