Do you know the great Max Brand synthesizer? Max Brand conceived it in the late 1950s and Bob Moog helped him building it. The IMA in Hainau (Austria) hosts the only existing model. In this context you might be interested in the book/exhibition “Zauberhafte Klangmaschinen” curated by Elisabeth Schimana of the IMA. Max Brand can also be found there:
Absolutely great that this is back. A hardware copy of the original site has been in my archive for years. I just looked it up and it turns out I printed it in 2002!
One idea / tip / advice: Why no take it further? Of course not to mention every synthesizer fad but some stuff that is available by now (like physical modeling, additive resynthesis and new controller concepts) fits perfectly in the stream of thought of all these inventors. I am sure that people like Thermen, Martenot and Trautwein would have drooled over such stuff.
The biggest pity however is that so few people are aware of how beautiful and expressive the music from these instruments can be. We simply live in a trigger and forget culture of electronic music. Well, maybe tweak a filter pot now and then but I am sure you catch my drift.
I actually condensed my personal view on the subject into a hardware setup that I call Starship One. Information about it (including pictures, written articles and even music composed on it) can be found on my website at .
In other words: The dream is still alive!
It seems that Helmholtz is both the oldest synthesizer and also the oldest electronic instrument that has been properly documented. As your article mentions, it’s not strictly speaking a musical instrument but an overtone synthesizer. The University of Toronto has a perfectly working one , and it was just recently recorded for our project.
Thanks for your wonderfully inspiring project! Now about the Helmholtz synth: according to professor David Pantalony “It was invented in the late 1850s by Helmholtz. Actually, he talks about its invention several times in Sensations of Tone (1863)”. Also: “The earliest known (surviving) Helmholtz Synthesizer (c. 1860) is possibly somewhere in Moscow, but I have never seen it or confirmed that it survives.”
While Plunderpalooza ’97 was widely reported in the Toronto and Canadian media, the New York Times has also mentioned Idiosyntactix once thus far in connection with our hosting of the Italian art group online project.
The Idiosyntactix Strategic Arts & Sciences Alliance has created its own art manifesto, rather, the Incidentalist Manifestos, plural, the reason being since it is always in a draft version, the latest being Draft 11.
In January 1996, coincidentally, i have co-founded Idiosyntactix Strategic Arts & Sciences Alliance, with a series of what we called the IDIO-AUDIO Mighty Mono 99.1 FM Pirate Radio shows broadcast live on 25 watt transmitter setup on the rooftop of the TransForum gallery (Queen St. and Bathurst) in downtown Toronto. The IDIO-AUDIO Independent and Experimental Music Online email list was set up by Dmytri Kleiner at that time followed by a series of first in Toronto live webcasts from different venues by the IA team. Eventually the Industry Canada, after three and a half months, has shut the pirate radio party down. However the community formed during that time has moved on to host and broadcast more IA shows on other SW/FM/AM frequencies and online, including the licensed stations. also later
All very nice, but not a word about Russia, which gave the world such men as Leon Theremin, inventor of the well-known theremin, Evgeny Murzin, the creator of the optical synthesizer ANS where is Russian musicians
The focus of this project is in exploring the main themes of electronic instrument design and development previous to 1970 (and therefore isn’t intended as an exhaustive list of recent commercial synthesisers or software packages.) As well as creating a free, encyclopaedic, pedagogical resource on the History of Electronic Music (and an interesting list for Synthesiser Geeks) my main interest is to expose and explore musical, cultural and political narratives within the historical structure and to analyse the successes and failures of the electronic music ‘project’, for example;
With the Roland Boutique Series modules you can choose from classic Roland synthesizers such as the JUPITER-8 from 1981, the JX-3P from 1983 or the Juno-106.
The Roland Boutique series is a limited edition module which faithfully recreates the sound of the legendary Roland synthesizers.
Heavily influenced by a cast of lesser-known spiritual muse (such as automatic abstract painter Hilma Af Klint and her fabled pre-surrealist secret society) Jane also enlists the physical skills of CAN’s Malcolm Mooney amongst a skeleton crew of Mancunian drum-lords and well versed psychedelic axe-men to punctuate Jane’s synth-loaded sonic architecture.
In tracks like Slow Motion and The Lightning Back, Weaver combines subtle patch-bay arpeggios combining the stylings of Wendy Carlos and (previous collaborator) Suzanne Ciani with yearning lyricism and the type of agile melodics seldom found in synthesised pop music.