Introduction to the Ondes Martenot

In this video, Cynthia Millar offers an introduction to the Ondes Martenot, an early electronic instrument that has earned a place in the orchestral repertoire.

The Ondes Martenot was created by French inventor Maurice Martenot in 1928. It’s a monophonic instrument and offers a range of expressive control that’s just now beginning to become common on synthesizers. It offers continuous control over volume and pitch, allowing it to be played very expressively.

The instrument’s capabilities so impressed composers of the early 20th century that it’s featured more than 100 classical works, and was later featured in dozens of film and television soundtracks.

Millar also demonstrates how diffuseurs that are commonly used with the Ondes Martenot. Diffuseurs are designed not to be traditional loudspeakers, but to be resonators that impart their own acoustic properties to the instrument’s sound.


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