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Revolutionising Sound: The Emergence of Electronic Music Introduction In the latter part of the 19th century many people thought that electronic music was impossible. They were very much accustomed to classical music and other traditional musical selections that they forgot how inventive an artist’s mind can be…
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Download file to see previous pages... Electronic music is music produced by means of electronic musical instruments. Examples of instruments that produce electromechanical sounds are the telharmonium, or also known as dynamophone, Hammond organ, and electric guitar. Devices like the sound synthesizer and Theremin can be used to produce electronic sound (Holmes, 2002). The capacity to record sounds is usually associated with electronic music production, but not totally needed for it. The very first documented recording equipment was invented by Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville in 1857, the phonautograph (Manning, 2013). A number of instruments were invented that used electromechanical designs and they encouraged the eventual appearance of electronic instruments. But the technological development that has made the biggest impact on music within the first half of the 20th century is the invention of the Telharmonium. The Telharmonium was invented by Thaddeus Cahill in the early 20th century. The microtonal scales were one of the most important developments in early 20th-century music made possible by the presence of telharmonium (Barela, 1997). As stated by Ferruccio Busoni, “Only a long and careful series of experiments, and a continued training of the ear, can render this unfamiliar material [microtonal scales] approachable and plastic for the coming generation and for Art” (Barela, 1997, p. 31). Telharmonium: The Musical Invention that Electrified the World The vitality of invention which emerged before the advent of the 20th century was simultaneous with a cultural interest in the new technological advancements that was unmatched. Inventors like Edison and Bell became legends who led a philosophy of industrial growth based on the capacity of controlled electricity. Among this group of inventor capitalists was Thaddeus Cahill, creator and designer of the original musical synthesizer, and originator of the electric typewriter (Dunn, n.d.). Although several attempts to create electronic musical equipment were initiated in early 20th century by William Duddell and Elisha Gray, they were somewhat uncertain or merely the consequences of other studies on electrical technology (Holmes, 2008). The invention of Cahill, the Telharmonium, is still the greatest and most determined effort to build an electronic musical instrument ever imagined. Under overwhelming technical challenges, Cahill was able to build the first model of Telharmonium in 1900. This electro-mechanical equipment made up of 145 alternators able to generate five octaves of changeable melodic content similar to orchestral quality. Its main function was composed of what is now called additive synthesis—a sound synthesis method that produces timbre. Because Cahill’s instrument was created prior to the availability of electronic amplification he had to make alternators that generated at least 10,000 watts (Dunn, n.d., pp. 2-4). Even though Cahill’s original purpose was merely to build a genuinely advanced electronic instrument that has the ability to perform classical musical selections, he immediately aimed at its industrial use with the intention of providing music to private settings (e.g. homes) as a way of funding its construction. He built the New York Electric Music Company with this purpose in mind and embarked on ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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