The Big Note – 09:00 AM January 17, 2024

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Episode 30 – The Ondes Musicales (or Ondes Martenot) and more!

The 30th episode of The Big Note has two guests in the studio, Simon Rigoni from 2 Inch Tape joins me, along with Tash, who will soon have a new show on 3MDR on Wednesday mornings following The Big Note. Today we discuss an unusual instrument from the mid 1900’s – The Ondes Martenot (or Musicales) The name ‘Ondes Martenot’ means ‘Martenot’s waves’ and it was invented in 1928 by the French inventor Maurice Martenot.

Martenot was a telegraphist during the 1st World War. Martenot was inspired by the accidental overlaps of tones between military radio oscillators, and wanted to create an instrument with the expressiveness of the cello (Martenot was a Cellist)

 This fascinating invention is a very early electronic musical instrument. It is played with a keyboard or by moving a ring attached to a wire whilst playing a telegraph-like slide key, which is used to control the volume and attack of the notes. It can create “wavering” sounds similar to a theremin. Later models allowed you to wiggle the keys on the keyboard for the vibrato effect, prior to that the keys were just there for reference along with indentations on the wooden ledge under the keys. It also uses unique speakers (including one with strings that resonance called the La Palme and the La Mettalic where the sound resonates through a large gong to replicate certain sounds/timbres from the instrument. Of interest the Theremin was created the same time as the Ondes Martinot. Both creators had worked with radios during the war.
 Naturally we play a few songs featuring the Ondes Martenot, including a few from 2 Inch Tape’s latest album “What I Need” where Simon played the Ondes Martenot at MESS (Melbourne Electronic Sound Studio) for the tracks. Photo credit: courtesy of Melbourne Electronic Sound Studio’s facebook page

Cymbal Rush by Thom Yorke from The Eraser
Home by 2 Inch Tape from What I Need
Earwig Theme by Augustin Viard from Earwig (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Leviathan by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds from Ghosteen
Indigenous Girl by Brad Hunt from (single)
Turangalîla-symphonie, for piano, ondes martenot & orchestra by André Previn, Michel Béroff, Jeanne Loriod & London Symphony Orchestra from Messiaen: Turangalîla-Symphonie & Quatuor pour la fin du temps
Pyramid Song by Radiohead from Amnesiac
Longing by 2 Inch Tape from What I Need
Cosmic Ballad by Perrey and Kingsley from The In Sound From Way Out!
Just Can’t Get Enough by Gotye from Re-Fashioned 2: British Airwaves
Again by 2 Inch Tape from What I Need

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