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1930 __ Variophone
Evgeny Sholpo (Е.А.Шолпо) (1891-1951)
Comment : The Variophone was developed by Evgeny Sholpo in 1930 at Lenfilm Studio Productions, in Leningrad, the Soviet Union, during his experiments with graphical sound techniques, also known as ornamental, drawn, paper, artificial or synthetic sound. In his research Sholpo was assisted by the composer Georgy Rimsky‐Korsakov. The Variophone was an optical synthesizer that utilized sound waves cut onto cardboard disks rotating synchronously with a moving 35mm movie film while being photographed onto it to produce a continuous soundtrack. Afterwards this filmstrip is played as a normal movie by means of a film projector. Being read by photocell, amplified and monitored by a loudspeaker, it functions as a musical recording process. Although with the first version of the Variophone, polyphonic soundtracks of up to 6 voices could be produced by shooting of several monophonic parts and combining them later, by the late 1930s and 1940s, some soundtracks contained up to twelve voices, recorded as tiny parallel tracks inside the normal soundtrack area. At the same time in the Soviet Union several other artists were experimenting with similar ideas. The first artificial soundtrack ever created was drawn in 1930 by composer and musical theorist Arseny Avraamov who was working with a hand-drawn technique for producing sound effects. Nikolai Voinov, Ter‐Gevondian and Konstantinov were developing paper sound techniques. Boris Yankovsky was developing his spectral analysis, decomposition and resynthesis technique, resembling the recent computer music techniques of cross synthesis and the phase vocoder. (Compiled from various sources)The Variophone was developed by Evgeny Scholpo in Leningrad in 1930 at Lenfilm Studio Productions, together with composer Georgy Rimsky-Korsakov. It was the most long living project: the Scholpo laboratory existed until 1951. The first practical result was achived in 1931. The technological basis of his invention was the method of photo-optic sound recording used in cinematography, which made it possible to obtain a visible image of a sound wave, as well as to realize the opposite goal - synthesizing a sound from an artificially drawn sound wave. "The method of Scholpo gives easier access to varieties of timbres. He doesn't shoot still images of sounds on animation stand, instead using paper disks with a circular images of combs with appropriate shapes of cogs, rotating synchronously with a moving filmstrip. Exclusive benefits of Variophon are in flexible pitch control and vibrato" (Solev 1935). (Derek Holzer)
French comment : Evgeny Sholpo développe [...] un appareil baptisé "variaphone", sorte de machine photo-électrique à fabriquer des bandes-son optiques. (Peter Szendy)Les travaux de Nikolai Voinov et Evgeny Sholpo en 1931 : Voinov avait réussi à créer du son artificiellement à partir de papiers découpés, en les filmant et les utilisant comme bande son. Il avait fait plusieurs films, où l'image était toujours liée au son. Evgeny Sholpo utilisa le même principe, filmer des formes et les utiliser comme bande son, et développa le Variophone. (Compiled from various sources)
Source : Szendy, Peter (1996), "De la Harpe Éolienne à la "toile" : fragments d'une généalogie portative", in Lire l'Ircam (n''°'' sp''é''cial des Cahiers de l'Ircam),1996, pp. 40-72; also In Tr@verses n''°'' 1, juillet 1996.
Source : Smirnov, Andrei & Pchelkina, Lubov (2008), « Expérimentations sonores et musique électronique dans la Russie du début du XXe siècle. », Palais/, n° 7, automne 2008, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, pp. 67-77.
Urls : http://www.arpla.fr/canal20/adnm/?cat=109 (last visited ) http://www.3rd.moscowbiennale.ru/en/program/special_projects/generation_z.html (last visited ) http://asmir.theremin.ru/gsound1.htm (last visited ) http://www.umatic.nl/tonewheels_historical.html (last visited )

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