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1930 __ Trautonium
Adolf Trautwein (1888-1956), Oskar Sala (1910-2002)
Comment : The Trautonium was developed by the electrical engineer Dr Freidrich Adolf Trautwein (b. Würzburg 1888, Germany; d. Düsseldorf 1956) and first exhibited in Germany in 1930. The domestic version of the Trautonium was manufactured and marketed by Telefunken between 1932 and 1935. A number of composers wrote works for the instrument including Paul Hindemith who learnt to play the Trautonium and produced a 'Concertina for Trautonium and Orchestra' as well as Höffer, Genzmer, Julius Weismann and most notably Oskar Sala who became a virtuoso on the machine and eventually took over the development of the Trautonium producing his own variations- the 'Mixtur-Trautonium', The 'Concert-Trautonium' and the 'Radio - Trautonium'. Oskar Sala has continued to work with the Trautonium to the present day. Trautwein also produced an 'Amplified Harpsichord'(1936) and 'Electronic Bells'(1947), after the second world war Trautwein worked in Paris on aviation research and then set up a school for recording engineers in Düsseldorf (1950), Trautwein produced his last instrument the 'Elektronische Monochord' in 1952. The Original Trautonium had a fingerboard consisting of a resistance wire stretched over a metal rail marked with a chromatic scale and coupled to a neon tube oscillator. The performer on pressing the wire touches the rail and completes the circuit and the oscillator is amplified via a loudspeaker. The position of the finger on the wire determines the resistance controlling the frequency and therefore controls the pitch of the oscillator. The Trautonium had a three octave range that could be transposed by means of a switch. An additional series of circuits can be added to control the timbre of the note by amplifying the harmonics of the fundamental note, non harmonic partials can also be added by selective filtering. This unique form of subtractive synthesis produced a tone that was distinctive and unusual when compared to the usual heterodyning valve instruments of the 1920-30's. The foot pedal of the machine controlled the overall volume. A later developments of the Trautonium by the Trautonium virtuoso and composer Oskar Sala was the Mixturtrautonium. The Mixturtrautonium used the same technology as the original Trautonium but in later models (1960's) used semi-conductors instead of triode lamps to give a more precise subharmonic frequency range. The first version, the 'Concert Trautonium' - using Thoraton electric tubes from AEG, was ready in 1936 for Harald Genzmer's " Conzert für Trautonium und Orchester". After the war Sala established a workshop for film music production in Berlin where he recorded music for Hitchcock's "the birds" and continues to the present day to compose and record music. The essential design principles of the Trautonium were retained in the development of the semi-conductor version of the Mixturtrautonium; sound production on the basis of subharmonic mixture, and the method of playing with two string manuals. The latter are made of wire-covered catgut strings which act as variable resistors. according to the position at which they are pressed againts the contact rail beneath them, they control the frequencies of the electronic sound generators. when the finger glides over the string a continuous glissando results over the entire tonal region which has just been tuned up. Micro-tonal intervals could be produced on the Mixturtrautonium. To ensure accurate contact with the notes leather covered sprung and moveable metal tongues are added to each string. In a c-tuning they are located above the nots c,d,g and a in each octave. Unlike with a vibrating string, the gradation of the electrical string manual is linear and not exponential so that all octave have the same finger range. (Compiled from various sources)
French comment : Mis au point en Allemagne dans les années 1928-1930 grâce à une collaboration entre Friedrich Trautwein et le compositeur Paul Hindemith, le Trautonium utilise une autre interface de contrôle : un câble tendu au-dessus d’une plate-forme. En appuyant avec le doigt, l’interprète provoque un contact électrique. D’abord monophonique sur trois octaves, l’instrument acquiert une deuxième corde en 1934 et devient ainsi polyphonique. Contrairement aux Ondes Martenot, l’oscillateur du Trautonium fournit un signal en dents de scie. Le spectre très riche est ensuite filtré par un banc de filtres réglable. Oskar Sala compose en 1963 la bande originale de “The Birds” d’Hitchcock (les cris des oiseaux sont réalisés avec le Trautonium). Un disque permet d’entendre Sala jouer “Langsames Stück und Rondo für Trautonium” de Paul Hindemith (Oskar Sala, Subharmonische Mixturen, Eslohe (Allemagne), Erdenklang, 70962, 1997). (Bruno Bossis, “Une nouvelle lutherie”, Séminaire théorique, Introduction à l’histoire et à l’esthétique des musiques électroacoustiques, Unesco, 2004-2005)Le Trautonium du docteur allemand Friedrich Adolf Trautwein (1888-1956) est créé en 1930. Il s'agit d'un instrument monophonique utilisant le principe de la synthèse soustractive, le son est généré par Le Trautonium de Friedrich Trautwein un oscillateur à basses fréquences. Le jeu se fait en serrant un fil de résistance contre une barre métallique (afin de fermer le circuit électrique) suivant des repères correspondant à l'échelle chromatique. Une deuxième barre en métal, actionnée par une pédale est employée pour commander le volume et l'articulation de chaque note, le timbre est, quant à lui, choisi en manœuvrant une série de commutateurs. Oskar Sala (1910-2002), qui a étudié avec Trautwein à Berlin, développe, en 1952, une autre version, duo-phonique de cet instrument, le Mixtur-Trautonium. Oskar Sala utilise le dispositif pour composer les effets sonores de plus de 300 films, notamment pour recréer le cri des oiseaux dans le film "The Birds" d' Alfred Hitchcock sous la direction de Bernard Herrmann. (Gilles Malatray)
Urls : http://120years.net/machines/trautonium/ (last visited ) http://sonhors.free.fr/panorama/sonhors5.htm (last visited )

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