The History Of Electronic Musical Instruments

2133 words - 9 pages

Electronic instruments and digital audio have changed the world's musical paradigm forever. The advent of consumer electronics in the 1920's gave musicians and composers alike, the ability to both create new sounds and the devices to manipulate them by electrical means.The 20th century has seen the vastest evolution of music styles and instruments, most of which have been heavily influenced by the electronic and digital mediums.Since the early 1920's many electronic renditions of acoustic instruments have become widely popular and available to the average musician. Instruments varying from electric guitars and basses, electronic pianos, synthesized drums and the ever popular "drum machines" and bass synthesizers including instruments that in themselves can create synthesis of multiple acoustic instruments and sounds by recreating the waveform (or shape of the sound waves) produced by playing them.Electronics has not only offered a means to alter the sounds of already existing instruments, but also as a way to generate new sounds, effects, tones and timbres that would never be possible to be produced in a natural setting.In the years following the first electronic instruments and synthesizers was what was called the "Digital Era". Employing computers to do operations similar to that of electronic devices required conversion of an electronic signal, called an analogue signal, to a series of 1's and 0's that computers use to calculate information, hence the term digital.Seeming that the computers allowed musicians to arrange synthesized sounds and samples (various snippets of a recording) in a way never before fathomable, it was only a natural reaction for it to expand itself manually.Soon amateurs and musicians alike, were making types and genres of music never heard before by anyone in the mainstream media.Therefore giving the average music listener a new musical experience. A description of such technology is what follows.A Russian military scientist, Lev Termin in Petrograd (Now St. Petersburg) in 1919, while working on a means to locate enemy radio transmitters for the military using vacuum tubes, noticed that his body was able to detune the radio receiver he was working on, based upon the range of which he stood to it. Termin, being a trained classical cellist, immediately recognized the musical importance that his discovery held. He began playing several tunes for his colleagues, later creating the first prototype to be used as a musical instrument (later dubbed the "Theremin", an anglicized version of Termin) the most amazing feature of this radio receiver turned musical instrument, was that to play it, didn't require a person to touch it! In order to use this alternative musical instrument, the musician would manipulate hand movements through two different electromagnetic fields (one changing pitch, the other changing the amplitude of sound.) By the late 20's the Theremin had been implemented in the works of many classical compositions and...

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