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Contributor essay
by
Tom Everrett and Gayle Young

The Hugh Le Caine Collection consists of twenty-two electronic music instruments and related artifacts representing Le Caine’s work as a physicist, instrument designer, and composer in Ottawa, Canada.

Object, Instrument, Technology

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.

Object, Instrument, Technology

The Sonde 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 facilitate experimentation in additive electronic sound synthesis. Unlike subtractive sound synthesis, in which a complex waveform is “shaped” by filtering or removing different frequencies, additive synthesis requires building up a complex waveform through the simultaneous introduction of multiple simple waveforms.

Object, Instrument, Technology

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.

Object, Instrument, Technology

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.

Object, Instrument, Technology

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.

Text
Anonymous,. 1961. “Gedruckte Schaltungen Für Neuartige Fernhörer Und Zur Steuerung Von Erdsatelliten”. Die Umschau In Wissenschaft Und Technik.
Text
Springer, Anton. (1963) 1963. “Ein Verfahren Zur Sprachbandkompression”. Internationale Elektronische Rundschau 17 (9): 471-475.
Text
Springer, Anton. 1961. “Zeitlupe Für Sprache Und Musik”.
Audio
Anonymous,. n.d. “Notes About The Transmission Of News - Side B”.