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Mellotronics

And Other 8 Second Sounds

Mellotron Mk IIa

The Mellotron is an electromechanical polyphonic keyboard musical instrument originally developed and built in Birmingham, England in the early 1960s.

The Mellotron, (along with its direct ancestor the Chamberlin), was in effect the world's first sample-playback keyboard. The heart of the instrument is a bank of parallel linear (not looped) strips of magnetic tape, each with approximately eight seconds of playing time; playback heads underneath (but not directly underneath) each key enable performers to play the pre-recorded sound assigned to that key when pressed. The earlier MK. I, and MK. II models contained two side-by-side keyboards with 18 selectable sets of specially-recorded sounds on the right keyboard such as strings, flutes, and brass instruments which were called "lead", or "instrument" sounds, and pre-recorded accompaniment music (in various styles) on the left keyboard. The tape banks for the later, and lighter M.400 models contain three selectable sounds (per changeable tape-rack) such as strings, cello, and the famous eight-voice choir. The sound on each individual tape piece is recorded at the specific pitch of the key that it was assigned to.

Mellotron instruction manual. have a look inside.
The Instruction Manual

Mike Pinder
Mike Pinder

"My Favorite Sounds Are
Eight Seconds Long"

 

The revolutionary Mellotron
keyboard was built by
Streetly Electronics, Birmingham
and was responsible for the
legendary sound of the Moodies
among many others. From 1964 'til
now, it has played an important part
in rock music. Today Streetly
Electronics are back in business
restoring these wonderful machines
for the likes of Paul McCartney,
Oasis and Radiohead and private
musicians and collectors.

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