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.
H. J. L. Struycken was a Dutch otolaryngologist, phonetician, and acoustician. After studying medicine in Groningen, in 1893 he started working at the Voorburg psychiatric hospital near Vught, where he attempted to distinguish psychiatric conditions from neurological speech disorders. His interest in phonetics and acoustics took Struycken to France and Germany, to visit clinics and approach instrument makers who could produce tuning forks for him to use in his clinical research.
In 1952, the Amplifier Corporation of America launched one of the first clockwork-driven tape recorders, ushering in a new era of battery-operated, small, and lightweight portable magnetic tape recorders. When they first appeared, the machines had no competitors, and the model enjoyed great success in the United States and beyond among semi-professional and serious hobbyist recordists. Originally, the Magnemite was designed for scientific work, in close cooperation with Peter Paul Kellogg, professor of ornithology and biological acoustics at Cornell University.
Early European settlers brought firearm technology to waterfowl hunting in the Americas. In the late eighteenth century, market hunting of the goose and duck flocks of the Atlantic and Mississippi Flyways proliferated. Hundreds of bird species move along the Atlantic coast and from the headwaters of the Mississippi River in Minnesota and Ohio to the Gulf of Mexico, migrating between breeding grounds and wintering grounds, and in the nineteenth century, hunters began using sound to draw down these passing birds.
The parabolic microphone uses a parabolic reflector to collect and focus sound waves onto a receiver, ensuring great directional sensitivity along the axis to which the reflector is directed. The microphone found initial application in sports and theater broadcasting, and later in eavesdropping and espionage during World War II. It also became a key instrument in the recording of animal vocalizations, and as such provided an important stimulus to the field of biological acoustics.
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 Serial Sound Structure Generator is a studio-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 was created to expand upon the serial composition technique of using the repetition of a series of notes, typically a series of 12 tones, to create a musical composition.
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