Early Electronic Instruments
March 25, 2008 5:10 AM   Subscribe

Elisha Gray could have been known to us as the inventor of the telephone. Instead, he goes down in history as the accidental creator of one of the first electronic musical instruments, the "Musical Telegraph." There are many other examples of early electronic instruments, including: the Teleharmonium, the Audion Piano, the Optophonic Piano, the Trautonium, the Ondes Martenot, the Rhythmicon, the Theremin Cello and the better-known Aetherphone (aka Theremin) to name a few. MetaFilter discussed odd music previously.
posted by terrapin (7 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Oops. Forgot to include this list from obsolete.com.
posted by terrapin at 5:11 AM on March 25, 2008

The obsolete.com list is an old favorite of mine, but it's great to see all the other links in your post -- thanks!
posted by the dief at 5:52 AM on March 25, 2008

Rhythmicon Rhythm Icon
posted by MNDZ at 6:42 AM on March 25, 2008

Here is an excellent TED talk about the theremin.
posted by DreamerFi at 7:42 AM on March 25, 2008

Did you read about Gray's patent? His patent for the telephone worked, but Bell's didn't (even though he later got it working). He lost the resulting lawsuit anyway.

But he founded Western Electric, and gave us the electronic keyboard, so I guess he did all right.
posted by eye of newt at 8:27 AM on March 25, 2008

terrapin, thank you for this. As a (mostly) non-electric musician, I have been trying to learn as much as I can lately about the development and origins of electronic instruments, and this post is such a gift.
posted by LooseFilter at 8:51 AM on March 25, 2008

Excellent post, thanks!

If anyone's interested in hearing the Ondes Martenot in concert, there are a couple of videos here (1) and here (2) which represent parts of Messiaen's Turangalila-Symphonie. The concert itself was one I went to back in 2001. I'll never forget it. The Ondes is actually quite assertive here - many recordings place it further back on the sound stage.
posted by paperpete at 2:14 PM on March 25, 2008

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