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Written by Tabatha McFayden

Ondes Martenot – A Beginner’s Guide


What:
An electronic instrument that creates sound through the manipulation of the relationship between two supersonic sound-wave frequencies, first demonstrated by the inventor Maurice Martenot in 1928.

Why: Martenot worked as a radio operator during WWI, and had the idea that the noises created by the overlaps he heard as he scanned frequencies had musical possibilities. Originally a cellist, he sought to create an instrument that gave these sounds expressive, lyrical potential. 

How: Like a string player, one hand is responsible for the differentiation between notes, the other for the sound. The ‘notes’ hand, in this case the right, can use two separate mechanisms. The keyboard can be used just like any other, or the player can attach a metal ring to her finger which runs along a ribbon in front of the keyboard. The left-hand operates switches controlling sound-wave forms (tone colour), controls for the three separate speakers that convert the frequencies into sound, and the all-important pressure button which determines the volume and articulation of a note.

Messiaen's Turangalila

Presented by APO and Auckland Arts Festival in collaboration with the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM)

7pm, Sat 23 March

Auckland Town Hall

Conductor Stefan Asbury
Piano Joanna MacGregor                
Ondes Martenot Cynthia Millar

Messiaen Turangalîla-Symphonie

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