"It's not necessary to touch the keyboard."
September 7, 2014 11:40 AM   Subscribe

Music from the Ether (1934) [SLYT]

Full titles read: "For generations the invention of new music-making instruments has almost stood still. Today we present Professor Maurice Martenot with his new electrical creation."

M/S's of Martenot playing the new instrument. The invention has a keyboard similar to that of a piano, however it also has a strange wire that lies on top of the keys, which Martenot holds as he plays. Martenot explains that the machine works by electrical devices and opens up the it's top to look inside. He makes several sounds with the device including the sound of a bird and of a double bass, just by pressing a few buttons.

Note: Appears to be a very early form of electrical organ or synthesiser. Ron Saunders says "This Frenchman's accent puts Sellers / Clouseau's to shame".
posted by Fizz (7 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
The Ondes Martenot
posted by Thorzdad at 11:51 AM on September 7, 2014

There are a couple of Ondes Martenot apps for the iPad - one inspired by the idea and one which emulates the instrument. Not tried either myself, currently busy swearing at/by Korg Gadget
posted by fallingbadgers at 12:06 PM on September 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

But has anyone actually found out whether there was an ondes Martinot used in the original Star Trek theme? Last time I dipped into that debate - why, it was raging...
posted by Devonian at 1:10 PM on September 7, 2014

Appears to be a very early form of ... synthesiser.

Yeah, it's eerily prescient when he plays the keys at 1:20.
posted by John Cohen at 2:06 PM on September 7, 2014

Fun! And don't miss Raymonde And His Band o' Banjos, featured among the Pathé clips on the right.
posted by languagehat at 2:44 PM on September 7, 2014

The Ondes Martenot was a very, very influential instrument. Although not as famous as the theremin it was important enough for numerous composers to explicitly use it in their works. It was also manufactured for more than 50 years, continuously (no other electronic instrument remained in production that long -- various theremins went in and out of production). Since it uses a continuous-pitch controller and can do wide pitch swings, people frequently confuse it with the theremin.

There is a synthesizer controller still being made today that is based on the Ondes design: the French Connection by Analogue Systems. (Sound on Sound review) It was used on stage frequently by Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood with his modular synth.
posted by metasonix at 5:22 PM on September 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

posted by eye of newt at 7:06 PM on September 7, 2014

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