Photo: THEfunkyman, who has lots of other wonderful instruments in his galleries on Flickr.

The Martenot is a bit like the Theremin’s sexy, friendly younger sister. If the Theremin is a tricky-to-drive race car, the Martenot is a sleek, road-ready coupe. (Okay, I’ve been watching way, way too much Top Gear.)

Anyway, the Martenot gets way too little credit. It’s played the theme from Star Trek. (Not a Theremin.) It’s played Radiohead. It’s played some really gorgeous Messiaen. Martenot met Theremin and the two went on to direct the course of electrified music in the 20th Century.

The Martenot has gotten a lovely round-up on MetaFilter:

Ondes Martenot, or, When Maurice Met Leon

… and you can read more at Obsolete.com, or even Encyclopedia Britannica. (Those over the age of 25, you can explain the retro appeal of these early treeware Wikipedias.)

Andrew Cordani of Midisticks sends this our way, and just at the right time — the Martenot is a terrific example of the kind of thing you can do with continuous controllers, like ribbons. So go pick up that free ribbon circuit kit and get with the inventing! Come on, "will exercise more" is no fun as a New Years’ resolution, is it? How about "will build my own Martenot"?

  • http://www.creativebump.com Myles de Bastion

    How people have ignored this and not commented on such a beautiful and expressive instrument is beyond me.

    I guess the closest one gets in the MIDI/OSC realm is of course the trusty Continuum Fingerboard – Polyphonic too!

    Thanks for this great find.