Fifty one years ago today, the first incarnation of the prog rock band, King Crimson, gathered in a cramped basement space below the Fulham Palace Cafe in London. One of the instruments the band would use that would come to distinguish their early sound was that strange, iconic 60s instrument, the Mellotron.
Keyboardist Ian McDonald was taken by the sound of this instrument as it was employed by the Moody Blues (and on The Beatles' Strawberry Fields) and thought it would work well with the type of lush and orchestral sound the band was looking to create. Later in the year, in the summer of 1969, the instrument would again appear on David Bowie's Space Oddity (played by future Yes man, Rick Wakeman).
Of all of the strange instruments that've worked the edges of popular music (the Theremin also comes to mind), the Mellotron is probably the oddest. Basically an upright organ cabinet filled with tape heads and recorded tape strips that you trigger through the keyboard, the Mellotron is like some crazy one-off contraption that caught on and actually got manufactured.
In this video, Allison Stout, of Bell Tone Synth Works, a synthesizer repair shop in Philadelphia, PA, takes us under the hood of a Mellotron MK1 and how it works. One can only imagine how finicky and prone to breakage touring versions of these things must have been.
And here's one of King Crimson's Mellotrons in action during a performance in 1974 at the ORTFTV Studios in Paris.
Bertolt Meyer wears a myoelectric prosthetic arm and hand controlled by electrodes attached to his residual limb that pick up impulses generated when he consciously contracts that muscle. Those impulses are then translated into control signals for the prosthetic hand. An electronic musician, Meyer had the idea to swap out the prosthetic hand for a […]
On Hackster.io, Jeremy Cook, writes about the Harmonicade, a modular 5.5 (x2) octave, multi-channel MIDI keyboard which uses arcade-style push-buttons arranged in the Wicki-Hayden button layout. Like Dvorak layouts, this alternate note arrangement is much less common. As seen in the demo video, however, KOOP Instruments has leveraged the Wicki-Hayden setup to create a stunning […]
From her groundbreaking first album Switched-On Bach (1968) to the unforgettable soundtracks for A Clockwork Orange (1971), The Shining (1980), and Tron (1982), Wendy Carlos is a living legend of electronic music. In March, Oxford University Press will publish Wendy Carlos: A Biography, written by musicologist Amanda Sewel, musical director of Interlochen Public Radio. From […]
Whether you love cooking at home or you swore this was going to be the year you curbed your DoorDash addiction, you know you can’t get the job done well without the proper tools on hand. For all your recipe and meal prep needs, this 3-piece Sukasu Osami Chef’s Knife set will do you right […]
It may not rank up there with climate change or personal debt, but confess…isn’t it the worst when you’re trying to put a food container in the fridge, but can’t find the right lid to fit? Hey, not everything has to be a global crisis to be irritating to the core. But still…it’s even more […]
Assembling a truly autonomous smart home is getting closer and closer to reality every day. But for every new smart bulb, thermostat, home security system and appliance we set loose within our walls, there are still probably a half dozen “dumb” items we’d still love to replace. But whether they’re too costly or too big […]