The Mellotron on Garden Shed

by Robert Webb Why The Extensive Use of Mellotron on the Garden Shed albumThe Mellotron is the bee’s knees of keyboard instruments. Why? Essentially because in keeping with over 600 years of successful musical keyboard inventions* the Mellotron equips the musician with an array of previously unavailable sounds via interesting and restrictive control mechanisms. In […]

Orchestron

Originally designed by Opsonar, the Orchestron was an attempt to perfect the Optigan for use by professional musicians. It will eventually be manufactured by Vako, a company created by David Van Koevering (1940-2018), a former employee of Moog. Compared to the Optigan, the Orchestron uses the same principle of optical celluloid disc reading but its […]

Optigan

The Optigan was created in Californie in 1971. It was produced by Optigan Corporation, a Mattel subsidiary, up until 1973, and by Opsonar afterwards. The Optigan was an instrument that used celluloid discs, which featured recordings of real musical instruments (especially organs) and accompaniments. The term “Optigan” comes from the words “OPTIcal orGAN”. It was […]

Birotron

After a concert at Carnegie Hall in 1975, Rick Wakeman (Yes’s keyboard player) met David Biro, who lived in Connecticut. Biro showed him his invention: an instrument that could play recorded sounds without the downsides of a Mellotron (sounds limited to 8 seconds, impossibility to play fast… ). It was a keyboard connected to nineteen […]

Chamberlin

The Mellotron directly comes from the Chamberlin (see History). In 1946, in California, Harry Chamberlin created a musical instrument that was able to play pre-recorded magnetic tapes. Somehow, it was the first sampler in history. 1948 – 1949 Model 100 Rhythmate Approx. 10 unitsIt’s the first Chamberlin. It could play 14 drum loops recorded on […]

Links

Streetly Electronics Martin Smith and John Bradley – son of Leslie Bradley, designer of the Mellotron – restore all models of Mellotron and sell spare parts and new tapes.Since 2007, they have been marketing a new model, the M4000.Streetly Electronics is located in England, near Birmingham. Streetly Electronics mellotron tape library Audio excerpts of the […]

Bibliography

Mellotron – The Machine and the Musicians that Revolutionised RockNick AwdeEd. Desert Hearts592 pages Collection of testimonies from several famous musicians who used the Mellotron (Tony Banks, Mike Pinder, Ian McDonald, John Wetton…) as well as the first demonstrator Geoff Unwin and John Bradley and Martin Smith of Streetly Electronics. The Mellotron BookFrank SamagaioEd. Artistpro.com250 […]

Anecdotes

King Crimson’s Mellotrons John Lennon and his Mellotron Mike Oldfield and the Mellotron Streetly Electronics archive photos Meetings with John Bradley and Martin Smith (Streetly Electronics) King Crimson’s Mellotrons In March 1999, Robert Fripp put his Mellotrons up for auction.None were sold during this sale, Fripp having accepted none of the offers offered. Mellotron Mark […]

Videos

Videos of each Mellotron model are available in the respective sections.

Audio

Complements Sampledelica! The History of the Mellotron – BBC Radio 4 Mellotron Story narrated by Rick Wakeman Les aventures de Piccolo SaxoPiccolo Saxo is a French educational musical tale to introduce children to the instruments of the orchestra.Written in 1956 by Jean Broussolle with music by André Popp and narrated by François Perrier, several volumes […]