May 12, 2013

The Artemis – A New Instrument Inspired By The Ondes Martenot

The martenot belongs to an extremely weird class of instruments that were spectacular in their days, but have little effect on modern instruments that have replaced it.  One thing we have to understand is that something as well known as the piano has evolved from many different shapes and forms that preceded it; it was just the fact that the piano has stood the test of time.  The great composers of the classical era played with many devices that looked like a piano, but different in the way they produced sound.  A piano basically strikes a soft mallet against a tuned string, but the harpsichord creates the same tone by actually plucking the string.  These small differences amount to a large change in timbre.

The martenot can be looked at like a precursor to the modern keyboard or synthesizer.  It used electricity to create music that could be controlled tonally – but not the exacting standard that we see in modern synthesizers.  The other problem with these martenots was that the technology to produce sound was nowhere near as good as what we can reproduce today.  Some are still in existence and even used in performances, but finding one will cost you.