March 27, 2013

DIY Ondes Martenot Style Controller

It must have been an interesting job to design new types of electronic instruments during the age of their booming development.  Before the use of digital technology was inserted into instruments, the instruments themselves could only be created by tinkering with analog controls over electronic devices.  The keyboard for example has to simulate the actual piano key that hit elongated strings, so this action had to be copied in the synthetic version.  Before there was any sort of portable plastic synthesizer available, one-off instruments were created that have little significant today.

The Ondes Martenot is an odd instrument that cannot be deciphered by its name alone.  It was in fact named after the man who created it back in the 1920’s.  Of all things, it uses a piece of string to change the pitch of the instrument when it produces notes.  This string is pulled between two pulleys that seem to have an instantaneous effect on the sound being produced.  While it is fascinating and interesting to watch – the idea of this instrument actually becoming a real thing has not brewed nicely in my mind.  There are much better ways to control pitch than to pull a string all day long.