December 20, 2005

All hail the mighty Variophone...

by Chris Randall

Check this shit out. The Variophone was an early-80s analog synth masquerading as a wind instrument rather than a keyboard. The synthesis method was a rudimentary physical modelling, using what I assume is a Schmitt Trigger kind of oscillator. The main unit could have several modules, and each one was optimized for a particular kind of windy synthesis (viz. fagott, klein klarinette, panfl?tte, etc.). Check the Variophone & Martinetta Enthusiasts Page for samples, descriptions and photos, and best of all, a Virtual Variophone flash presentation.

This is not to be confused with the optical-based Variophone invented by Yevgeny Alexandrovitch Sholpo in Russia in 1932, which lives on in the audio waveforms you see striped on the side of a piece of 35mm movie film.




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