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1929 __ Automatically Operating Musical Instrument of the Electric Oscillation Type
Edouard Eloi Coupleux (?) (?-?)
Comment : The Piano Radio-Électrique fabricated in France by A. Givelet & E. Coupleaux in 1929 might be considered to be the world’s first real synthesizer. At the 1929 Paris Expo, Edouard E. Coupleux and Joseph A. Givelet present the first “synthesizer”, named the “‘Automatically Operating Musical Instrument of the Electric Oscillation Type.’ Four voices were controlled by means of perforated paper, similar to the Player Piano, but it was also possible to individually modulate each of the voices by means of filters to create tremolos or change the timbre. The instrument was not commercially successful but did serve as a model for other later developments such as the Kent Music Box (in the early 1950s), or, more importantly, RCA Synthesizer”. This instrument was polyphonic!. (CEC Concordia University Montréal)[...] [P]eople began to develop instruments that combined electronic sound generators and sequencers. The first instrument of this kind was presented by the French duo Edouard Coupleux and Joseph Givelet in 1929.the inspirationally named Automatically Operating Musical Instrument of the Electric Oscillation Type. This hybrid married electronic sound generation to a mechanically punched tape control. Generally acknowledged to be a mouthful, its unofficial name was shortened to Coupleux-Givelet Synthesizer by its builders; this was, incidentally, the first time a musical instrument was called a “synthesizer.”.In 1929 the first synthesizer, the "Automatically Operating Musical Instrument of the Electric Oscillation Type" was shown by Edouard Coupleux and Joseph Givelet at the Paris Exposition. A paper-tape reader controlled four oscillators. Holes punched in the paper tape indicated changes in pitch, loudness, tremolo, articulation, tone color. Depending on the pattern of holes and where they were punched in the paper, these things could be altered. A tracker followed the patterns on paper and controlled a bellows that changed voltages according to the volume of air. It was never developed further, but it was the first instrument to be controlled by binary numbers. Information was encoded as binary numbers and stored on paper in the form of rows of punched and filled holes forming ones and zeroes. (Department of Integrative Arts, PennState University)
French comment : Lors de l'exposition universelle de Paris en 1929, Edouard Eloi Coupleux et Joseph Armand Givelet (deux techniciens radio) exposent le "Automatically Operating Musical Instrument of the Electric Oscillation Type" ou "l'Orgue Des Ondes". Le principe : un papier perforé contrôle 4 voix, comme dans un piano mécanique, et grâce à des filtres, il est possible d'obtenir un trémolo et de changer les timbres. Cette machine est un échec commercial, mais elle stimulera la création de bien d'autres inventions comme le "RCA Music Synthesizer". A la même époque, beaucoup d'intruments voient le jour : le Dynaphone de René Bertrand, la Croix sonore de Nikolai Obukhov (1929) ou encore l'Hellertion de Bruno Helberger et Peter Lertes. (Gilles Malatray)En 1927, deux ingénieurs français, Armand Givelet et Edouard Eloi Coupleux mettent au point l'orgue électronique, "l'orgue des ondes". C'est le premier instrument totalement polyphonique, il est composé de sept cents oscillateurs à lampes, pour soixante-dix notes et dix timbres. Le même principe que l'orgue à tuyaux des lampes et à la place de l'air le courant qui passe... Orgue d'avant-garde mais extrêmement fragile et encombrant, une pièce était nécessaire pour loger l'instrument et sa machinerie. En 1930 Givelet et Coupleux inventent un orgue aux sonorités programmées sur cartes perforées, c'est l'ancêtre du synthétiseur. (Nelly Johnson)
Source : Veitl, Anne (2008), “MUSIQUE SERIEUSE ET INFORMATIQUE : la formation du domaine de « l'informatique musicale » en France Repères chronologiques : XIXe siècle -> 1983”
Source : Johnson, Nelly (2004), "La petite histoire de la musique", NJART, Imprimerie Jouve, 2004, pp. 36-37.
Urls : http://www.freepatentsonline.com/1957392.html (last visited ) http://www.freepatentsonline.com/2801563.html (last visited ) http://sonhors.free.fr/panorama/sonhors4.htm (last visited ) http://cec.concordia.ca/education/archive/elearning/module1/index_2_en.html (last visited ) http://www.music.psu.edu/Faculty%20Pages/Ballora/INART55/birthofdigital.html (last visited )

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