Ondioline - an early electronic keyboard instrument


There’s a modern example

And the song wikipedia mentions as the first popular example.

A valve synth, but the real unique feature is that the keyboard was suspended on springs, so you could waggle the keys to produce vibrato, just like how you’d waggle your fingers on a stringed instrument to do the same effect.
Is there any modern synth or keyboard that allows you to do the same?
I’m trying to find out more information about it. It’s an actual synth, I thought it was a sampler with tape loops like the mellotron
Here’s the manual. My french is not good but there’s a diagram showing what control does what, and I think
"Variation rapide (moins de 1/10 de sec. ) en amplitude: transitoires Attaque (terminologie variée suivant l’instrument considéré». Mode d’attaque; ou forme du son transitoire " is talking about how quickly the note comes in. So you could do a gradual swell which is what I love about synths versus organs where in an organ the note comes on as soon as you press the key as you’re physically opening a valve.


(Heh, this video appeared in my YouTube feed a bit back, and it (for obvious reasons) made me wonder whatever happened to Gotye, and got far enough to learn that he’d taken a break to work with (and later spend time preserving the legacy of) Jean-Jacques Perrey but then I got distracted. Thanks for posting!)

(…and yeah, the minimum title length is silly – especially the bit when they ask a yes/no question and only accept OK as the answer…)

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Didn’t Jean Jacques Perrey do some pop music?

I’m trying to remember, I think it was on Ishkur’s guide to electronic music, French eletro pop something something. I’m sure Jean Jacques Perrey did something called “popcorn” but can’t find it.

https://music.ishkur.com/ the guide is different now, it used to be blobs with spokes going out.

Lol, I’m trying to find it and I came across this quote about Moog music.

The Moog Modular was the first synthesizer that was actually smaller than a room. You didn’t have to buy all the modules but if you wanted to have different waveforms, amplifiers, oscillators, filters, etc. it was necessary to get most of them.

You could custom configure the Moog Modular with any array of modules that you wanted and for some enthusiasts that was more fun than actually making music. It’s like building custom Magic: The Gathering decks but never actually duelling with them. But most people probably just bought a few of the more popular stock design models. Because sometimes having too many choices is a bad thing. I mean, just look at all those dials, knobs, and 1/4" jacks and plugs.

Finally, I found it on an archive site with his old guide that runs in flash.

I knew it as the “bleepy bloopy popcorn French pop song.”

I had no idea that they were behind Popcorn, but a bit of Googling tells me it was his Perrey and Kingsley colleague Gershon Kingsley that came up with that annoying little song :smiley: (supposedly in ~30 seconds). Original recording here:

(popcorn starts at 9:58 if the link doesn’t already take you there)


There’s definitely some kitsch on that album, but the synth riff in the first song is awesome. Which led me here:

https://www.whosampled.com/Gershon-Kingsley/ (24 samples, 40 covers)
https://www.whosampled.com/Jean-Jacques-Perrey/ (119 samples, 7 covers, 3 remixes)
https://www.whosampled.com/Perrey-and-Kingsley/ (29 samples, 10 covers)

Lovely French creamy cheese pop.
Not heard this variation before.

Thanks for posting this, a valve synth is pretty much my dream synth. Love the waggle keyboard, very innovative indeed. Valve audio anything can be difficult to build, because you want to prevent the valves oscillating at above the human hearing range.

Wonder how easy it would be to make a simple valve oscillator using modern design and components (not point to point). I can follow a kit, but am struggling with circuit design. My brain can’t seem to hold onto new concepts at the moment.


Oh in 1972 I remember getting quite excited about the Hot Butter cover of Popcorn, as a pure synth instrumental that charted high in the UK. In my defence, I was a highly sheltered 15-year-old. I had no idea until this moment about its antecedents.

It’s a really very slight piece, in my opinion. ELP showed how to really produce a great synth rock piece, with Barbarian on their first album. Music courtesy of Béla Bartók, which certainly helps.

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I was watching retro hardware building a pc from the 2001 era and he used the aopen tubesound motherboard. A p4, agp era full atx motherboard with a valve amp on the bottom.

Shame the hardware is so dated. I did look for pci express valve amp sound cards but none exist, just external valve amp dacs.

The valves are a necessity with 1940’s tech. I’m more interested in the waggle keyboard for vibrato. Is there any modern keyboard with that feature? As pitch wheel is not the same

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My first ever schoolboy DIY guitar effect was a fuzzy distortion which consisted of a footswitch that could turn off one or both the valve cooling fans.
Worked brilliantly for many gigs and then (for some totally inexplicable reason) the amp died!


That sounds mad! I remember building a twin processor Celeron processor computer, forgot what the year was… but it was the only motherboard to use two Celeron(s)! Was running Linux on it, RedHat I think…


Sort of related, but Korg are making a new thing with a new valve that has blue plasma. Ooh. And runs on 6 x AA batteries, nice.

I really hope to see this valve used in other kit as I gotta say, what I’ve seen so far from it, I’m underwhelmed.


I’m trying to find more information about this blue valve but it’s low power enough that it can be run on 6xAA batteries for more than a minute.

Here’s another video just about the Valve.

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https://korgnutube.com/en/ (datasheet hidden behind a “tell us your name and company” form, though).

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Very tempting! Like the portable nature of it too.