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Ondes Martenot MIDI Controller | #MusicMonday

Good-looking Martenot MIDI controller by Fluxwood – I especially dig that microswitch barely peeking up out of the top instrument body.

The Ondes Martenot is a French electronic instrument that was invented in the 1920s. It is a synthesizer that uses a pulley system for controlling and playing notes. Instead of discrete notes like a piano, the stringed pulleys allowed the users to slide between notes and octaves without “steps”. It is very similar to a Theremin, except that there is a physical interface rather than playing in air.

My project utilizes Serial communication to route MIDI messages into a synthesizer program to mimic the sound and interface of the Ondes Martenot.

For my variation, I wanted to capture the feel and vibrato capabilities of the ringed pulley system. The main components of my project was an Arduino and a 10 turn potentiometer. The Arduino uses analogread() to measure the voltage of the potentiomenter and maps that to a range between 0 and 1023. The 10-turn capability allows for more precise control, a larger resolution, and essentially more note capabilities.

Since there is no video I’m aware of of Fluxwood’s Ondes Martenot, but I want you to get an idea of what this instrument sounds like – and how! – here’s a video of a different Martenot MIDI controller from YouTuber Mitsushi Abe (his blogs are in Japanese):


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