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Ondes Martenot

The Ondes Martenot (or Ondes-Martenot or Ondes martenot or Ondium Martenot or Martenot or ondes musicale) is an early electronic musical instrument with a keyboard and slide invented in 1928 by Maurice Martenot, and originally very similar in sound to the Theremin. The sonic capabilities of the instrument were subsequently expanded by the addition of filter banks and switchable loudspeakers. The instrument is especially known for its eerie wavering notes produced by the thermionic valves that produce oscillating frequencies, responsible for the female voice effects in the original Star Trek theme.

Ondes Martenot
Ondes Martenot.

The Ondes Martinot has been used by many composers, most notably Olivier Messiaen. He used it in many of his works, such as the Turangalîla Symphony and the Trois Petites Liturgies de la Presence Divine; his opera Saint François d'Assise calls for three. Other composers included Pierre Boulez, Edgar Varese, Darius Milhaud, Arthur Honegger and Maurice Jarre; André Jolivet wrote a concerto for it in 1947. On television Barry Gray frequently used it in his scores for Gerry Anderson's series. It was also utilized by Bryan Ferry on the album As Time Goes By.

Ondes martenot demonstrated by inventor Maurice Martenot
Ondes martenot demonstrated by inventor Maurice Martenot.

The instrument was frequently used in soundtracks for horror and science fiction movies, and is still used from time to time. Its uses include Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Billion Dollar Brain (1967), and Amélie (2001), and Bodysong (2003), by Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead. Greenwood is often credited with bringing the Ondes to a larger audience through Radiohead's Kid A (2000), Amnesiac (2001) and Hail to the Thief (2003) albums. Greenwood uses the Ondes often in his solo effort, the soundtrack to Bodysong, and has also written a piece for the instrument entitled "Smear".

[This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article: Ondes Martenot.]



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