Tuesday, August 10, 2010

solovox, my love

My great aunt has loved and played music all her life. Her instruments are keyboards: pianos, organs, accordions, and the Solovox. Growing up, I remember many a rendition of the Tenessee Waltz in the music room of her great big old house. Great uncle on the violin, Aunt on the piano. Every now and then the cool electronic whistle of the Solovox would come humming out of that piano cabinet. When I first saw and heard my Aunt's Solovox it was already 30 plus years old and sounded great. Well, they just don't make 'em like they used to.

In the 90's my Aunt bought one of those new-fangled midi-pianos. No need for the Solovox. But she is a smart one, and she kept it.

I visited my Aunt last month. I went looking for something in one of her closets. There was her Solovox! In storage! Sometimes considered the "first synthesizer" (there are many artifacts that could qualify), pure tube power! I had to take it out. My Aunt knows my love for music (although she has no love for the kind of music I like). She insisted that I take it home. Well, here it is:

Above is the underside of the keyboard unit. The keyboard is designed to be mounted underneath the keyboard of a grand piano. That long metal rod is the on-off and volume lever. It is designed to be operated by one's knee for dynamic control. RAD.

Here is a shot of the top of the keyboard unit shown, not as it ought to be, but placed on my grandmother's old coffee table.

The next picture is of the sound cabinet. This would be mounted within the piano's sounding board. Can you imagine someone being willing to do this to a piano?

The final picture is of the other side of the sound cabinet. Here you see the tubes in action. The thing still works (basically). And the tubes emit their yellow glow that says: you are now playing with electricity.

The two units are hooked up to one another by a (very proprietary) multi-pronged interface cord. Just so unbelievably rad. I can't wait to take it in to my local music shop and see what they can do with it. Even if they only clean it up and getting it in working order, that would be pretty cool. But I hope they could find a way to hack me into the (I believe five) formant filters on this thing!

Now, where to keep it I have no clue, but I am so happy to have this thing! It is both an amazing and historical piece of electronic musical equipment and a reminder of my cool great Aunt!

But what does it sound like? I am glad you asked. Here I am noodling around (top note priority):

After recording it with a friend, we started dropping different channel strip settings from logic on it. So I decided to turn it into a little electronica / techno / house track (still can't tell the differences between all those unbelievably specific sub-genres - does every artist / band just have its own sub-genre now? Doesn't that defeat the point? I digress).

Vox Soli by Tetramorph

Thanks for listening. More tracks to come. I keep brooding over them. They will hatch soon.

Thanks for following. Peace.


  1. Wow. What an amazing find! Quite cool tune too. Looking forward to more.


  2. I like how you've got the mod stuff popping up periodically, like a recurring theme, all the while you're showcasing the old-fashioned solovox. Sweet.


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