Mojodojo Media



The 1920s to 1930s



This decade brought a wealth of early electronic instruments and the first compositions for electronic instruments. The first instrument, the Etherophone, was created by Léon Theremin (born Lev Termen) between 1919 and 1920 in Leningrad, though it was eventually renamed the Theremin. This led to the first compositions for electronic instruments, as opposed to noisemakers and re-purposed machines. In 1929, Joseph Schillinger composed First Airphonic Suite for Theremin and Orchestra, premièred with the Cleveland Orchestra with Leon Theremin as soloist.

In addition to the Theremin, the Ondes Martenot was invented in 1928 by Maurice Martenot, who debuted it in Paris.

The following year, Antheil first composed for mechanical devices, electrical noisemakers, motors and amplifiers in his unfinished opera, Mr. Bloom.

Recording of sounds made a leap in 1927, when American inventor J. A. O'Neill developed a recording device that used magnetically coated ribbon. However, this was a commercial failure. Two years later, Laurens Hammond established his company for the manufacture of electronic instruments. He went on to produce the Hammond organ, which was based on the principles of the Telharmonium, along with other developments including early reverberation units. Hammond (along with John Hanert and C. N. Williams) would also go on to invent another electronic instrument, the Novachord, which Hammond's company manufactured from 1939–1942.

The method of photo-optic sound recording used in cinematography made it possible to obtain a visible image of a sound wave, as well as to realize the opposite goal—synthesizing a sound from an artificially drawn sound wave.

In this same period, experiments began with sound art, early practitioners of which include Tristan Tzara, Kurt Schwitters,Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, and others.