The clavier à lumières (keyboard with lights), or tastiéra per luce, as it appears in the score, was a musical instrument invented by Alexander Scriabin for use in his work Prometheus: Poem of Fire. However, only one version of this instrument was constructed, for the performance of Prometheus: Poem of Fire in New York in 1915. The instrument was supposed to be a keyboard, with notes corresponding to colors as given by Scriabin’s synesthetic system, specified in the score, However, numerous synesthesia researchers have cast doubt on the claim that Scriabin was a synesthete.
Keys rearranged into a circle of fifths in order to show the spectral relationship.
violet or purple
Scriabin was a friend of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, who was also a synesthete. Scriabin’s assignments of colours to keys was not the same as Rimsky-Korsakov’s perceptions, which is not an indication that Scriabin was not a synesthete as all synesthetes perceive different associations. Scriabin was also heavily influenced by Theosophy, which had its own different system of associating colors and pitches (in essence going up the visible spectrum from C to B chromatically, rather than by fifths).
^Henry Chapin Plummer (April 1915). “Colour Music-A New Art Created With the Aid of Science: The Colour Organ Used in Scriabine’s Symphony Prometheus“. Scientific American. Plummer describes in detail the design and technology used to produce the instrument for the colour effect prescribed by Scriabin.
^ abHarrison, J. (2001). Synaesthesia: The Strangest Thing. ISBN0-19-263245-0. “In fact, there is considerable doubt about the legitimacy of Scriabin’s claim, or rather the claims made on his behalf, as we shall discuss in Chapter 5.” (p.31-2)
^ abGaleyev, B.M. and Vanechkina, I.L. (2001). “Was Scriabin a Synesthete?”. Leonardo34 (4): 357–362. doi:10.1162/00240940152549357. “The authors conclude that the nature of Scriabin’s ‘color-tonal’ analogies was associative, i.e. psychological; accordingly, the existing belief that Scriabin was a distinctive, unique ‘synesthete’ who really saw the sounds of music—that is, literally had an ability for ‘co-sensations’— is placed in doubt.”
^ abCytowic, Richard E; Eagleman, David M (2009). Wednesday Is Indigo Blue: Discovering the Brain of Synesthesia (with an afterword by Dmitri Nabokov). Cambridge: MIT Press. p. 309. ISBN978-0-262-01279-9.
^ abcDann, Kevin T. (1998). Bright colors falsely seen: synaesthesia and the search for transcendental knowledge. New Haven, Conn: Yale University Press. ISBN0-300-06619-8.
The water organ or hydraulic organ is a kind of pipe organ. As in the pipe organ, the sound is made by air blowing through the pipes, but power to make the air blow does not come from bellows or from electricity as in the modern organ, but from water, for example from a waterfall.
A hydraulis is an early type of pipe organ that was powered by water. It was invented in the 3rd century B.C., probably by the Hellenistic scientist Ctesibius of Alexandria. It was the world’s first keyboard instrument. Many centuries later it developed into the modern pipe organ.
A modern reconstruction of the wind organ and wind wheel of Heron of Alexandria
The water organ works by having water and air arriving together in the camera aeolis (wind chamber). Here, water and air separate and the compressed air is driven into a wind-trunk on top of the camera aeolis, to blow the organ pipes. Two perforated ‘splash plates’ or ‘diaphragms’ stop the water spray from getting into the organ pipes.
The water, having been separated from the air, leaves the camera aeolis at the same speed as it enters. It then drives a water wheel, which in turn drives the musical cylinder and the movements attached. To start the organ, the tap above the entry pipe is turned on and, given a continuous flow of water, the organ plays until the tap is closed again.
During the Renaissance many Italian gardens had water organs. The most famous water organ of the 16th century was at the Villa d’Este in Tivoli. It was about 6 metres high and was powered by a beautiful waterfall. It could play three pieces automatically, but there was also a keyboard.
Completed in 2006, it is part of the series of four sculptures within the Panopticons arts and regeneration project created by the East Lancashire Environmental Arts Network (ELEAN). The project was set up to erect a series of 21st-century landmarks, or Panopticons (structures providing a comprehensive view), across East Lancashire as symbols of the renaissance of the area.
Designed by architects Mike Tonkin and Anna Liu of Tonkin Liu, the Singing Ringing Tree is a 3-metre tall construction comprising pipes of galvanised steel which harness the energy of the wind to produce a slightly discordant and penetrating choral sound covering a range of several octaves. Some of the pipes are primarily structural and aesthetic elements, while others have been cut across their width enabling the sound. The harmonic and singing qualities of the tree were produced by tuning the pipes according to their length by adding holes to the underside of each.
The Kaossilator series was the forerunner of unique instruments that made it easy for anyone to play musical melodies and phrases. The KAOSSILATOR PRO, which appeared in 2010, was an updated model featuring a rich variety of sounds and loop recording functionality that made it not merely a live performance instrument, but also a track-making tool.
2013 brings us to the upgraded KAOSSILATOR PRO+. With additional new sound programs and drum sounds KAOSSILATOR PRO+ has been supercharged to offer even more variety and exploration. A synthesizer that lets you perform and create multi-layered music in any style with just the touch of a finger.
Freely playable synthesizer; simply touch the touchpad to play notes and manipulate sounds in real time
A total of 250 sound programs (including drum programs) cover a wide range of styles, including 62 new programs
Loop Recording function allows intuitive performance and recording, and 4 infinitely stackable loop banks are available
Numerous functions for unlimited performance possibilities
– Scale/Key settings make it easy for anyone to perform with no wrong notes
– Note Range function lets you specify the horizontal pitch range of the touchpad
– Gate Arpeggiator function allows you to easily control phrases with the slider
– Pad LEDs ensure excellent visibility even in the dark
-USB MIDI allows use as a powerful MIDI controller
-Store recorded loop data and even externally made. WAV files on an SD/SDHC card
-Dedicated editor software for centralized management of sample data and settings
If you’re interested in handmade and experimental musical instruments, I’d suggest finding a copy of Gravikords, Whirlies & Pyrophones (and also the follow-up, Orbitones, Spoon Harps & Bellowphones). It’s a book/CD combo written by Bart Hopkin, the publisher of Experimental Musical Instruments magazine and an avant-garde musician himself. Bart Hopkin is awesome, his book Musical Instrument Design is what got Anarchestra started in the first place.