The first electronic keyboard, called the Telharmonium
, was invented in 1897 by Thaddeus Cahill.
The narrative profiles both the technological and artistic innovators who slowly brought electronic music from the development of the electronic tone producing Telharmonium
in 1901 to the wide acceptance of electronic forms of music today, with majority of the narrative focusing on the late 1960s and later.
These books include Reynold Weidenaar's Magic Music from the Telharmonium
(Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1995), Albert Glinsky's Theremin: Ether Music and Espionage (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2000), and Gayle Young's biography of Hugh Le Caine, The Sackbut Blues (Ottawa: National Museum of Science and Technology, 1989).
The short-lived telharmonium, first built in 1906, was an 200-ton instrument that required a whole room full of machinery.
After your students have read about the Telharmonium, have them think and write about another invention that has "improved" or been made better in some way over time.
Invented by Thaddeus Cahill in 1897, the Telharmonium
was the first electronic musical keyboard made.
It was the intent of the inventor that the Telharmonium would be the instrument to render obsolete all others, recreating their sounds, only better.
Whether or not it should be seen as a success from a musical point of view, the Telharmonium proved to be an economic failure, and on a grand scale.
In Magic Music from the Telharmonium, Reynold Weidenaar recounts the history of the instrument and its inventor Cahill.