Invented by John Shore in 1711, the tuning fork was initially used by musicians. After Chladni’s studies of its vibrations, however, it was also extensively employed by acousticians, who praised the purity of its sound. Hermann von Helmholtz, especially, based his experiments with beats, combination tones, and simple tones on tuning forks attached to resonators that enhanced their suitability for experimentation.
After coming to Paris in 1851, Rudolph Koenig trained with the violin maker Vuillaume until 1858, when he launched his own instrument-making business at Place Lycée Louis-le-Grand. Koenig’s workshop participated in Paris’s flourishing activities in scientific research and instrument-making from the 1830s to the 1880s. More specifically, it contributed to the development of acoustics as an independent field of research.
The silk manufacturer Johann Heinrich Scheibler invented a method to tune keyboards with unprecedented accuracy, applying principles that he had developed in his textile factory. His technique involved a set of tuning forks called a tonometer, a chronometer, and the counting of beats. It aimed to deskill tuning so that anyone could achieve precise tuning regardless of their musical ear. He explained his invention in Der physikalische und musikalische Tonmesser of 1834.
The Polyphone is a performance-oriented musical instrument designed by Canadian physicist Hugh Le Caine and built in the National Research Council of Canada’s (NRC) Electronic Music (ELMUS) Lab in Ottawa, Canada. It is the world’s first known keyboard-based electronic synthesizer that allowed for multiple notes to be played at once. Its name, Polyphone, is derived from this polyphonic capacity. It permitted musicians, for the first time, to play a synthesizer as they would a piano or organ: with two-hand accompaniment and multi-note chords.
The Special Purpose Tape Recorder (or Multi-track) was the first studio-oriented instrument designed by Canadian physicist Hugh Le Caine and built in the National Research Council of Canada’s (NRC) Electronic Music (ELMUS) Lab in Ottawa, Canada. It was created to afford composers the opportunity to alter and recombine pre-recorded sounds into a single musical output. This prototype version of the instrument used a three-octave keyboard to control the speeds of six tapes simultaneously, and then mix them down into a single recording.
The Electronic Sackbut, designed by Canadian physicist Hugh Le Caine, is the world’s first known voltage-controlled synthesizer. It employed various techniques in electronic signal processing – among them the generating, dividing, filtering, modulating, and blending of electronically-produced waveforms – to permit new ways of creating and controlling musical sound.
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