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Fig.1 Oscillator and keyboard
Fig.2 Vibrato effect
Fig.3 Filter assembly

The clavioline is an electronic analog synthesizer. It was invented by French engineer Constant Martin in 1947 in Versailles.[1][2]

The instrument consists of a keyboard and a separate amplifier and speaker unit. The keyboard usually covered three octaves,[3] and had a number of switches to alter the tone of the sound produced, add vibrato (a defining feature of the instrument),[1] and provide other effects. The Clavioline used a vacuum tube oscillator to produce a buzzy waveform, almost a square wave, which could then be altered using high-pass and low-pass filtering, as well as the vibrato. The amplifier also aided in creating the instrument's signature tones, by deliberately providing a large amount of distortion.[1]

Several models of the Clavioline were produced by different companies. Among the more important were the Standard, Reverb, and Concert models by Selmer in France[3] and Gibson in the United States[4] in the 1950s. The six-octave model employing octave transposition was developed by Harald Bode[5] and manufactured under license by Jörgensen Electronic in Germany.[6] In England, the Jennings Organ Company's first successful product was the Univox, an early self-powered electronic keyboard inspired by the Selmer Clavioline.[7] In Japan, Ace Tone's first prototype, the Canary S-2 (1962), was based on the Clavioline.[8]


The Clavioline has been used on a number of recordings in popular music as well as in film. Along with the Mellotron, it was one of the keyboard instruments favoured by rock and pop musicians during the 1960s before the arrival of the Moog synthesizer.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Reid, Gordon (March 2007). "The Story of the Clavioline". Sound on Sound. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  2. ^ Brend 2005, p. 34.
  3. ^ a b "Electronic keyboard, 'Clavioline', metal / plastic, Henri Selmer & Co Ltd, London, England, 1950-1965". Powerhouse Museum. 26 January 2024. Registration Number: 2004/116/1.
  4. ^ Nelson, Philip I. "Gibson Clavioline Keyboard Instrument (1953)". Phil's Old Radios (antiqueradio.org).
  5. ^ Bode (6 octave) Clavioline (photograph). Clavioline.com. 2002. Archived from the original on 2006-08-21.
  6. ^ Windler, Christian Oliver. "Jörgensen Electronic Clavioline". TableHooters, warranty void (weltenschule.de).
  7. ^ a b "Vox Electronic Organs". Music Soul (reinout.nl).
  8. ^ All About Electronic & Electric Musical Instruments (in Japanese). Seibundō ShinkōSha. 1966. p. 32, 34. ASIN B000JAAXH6, 電子楽器と電気楽器のすべて.
  9. ^ Holmes 2012, pp. xviii, 448.
  10. ^ Interview with Charles Chilton, Round Midnight, BBC Radio 2, 1989
  11. ^ Nardi, Carlo (July 2011). "The Cultural Economy of Sound: Reinventing Technology in Indian Popular Cinema". Journal on the Art of Record Production (5). ISSN 1754-9892. Archived from the original on 2013-06-15. Retrieved 2012-03-18.
  12. ^ Brend 2005, p. 47.
  13. ^ Brend 2005, pp. 39–40.
  14. ^ Holmes 2012, pp. 403–04.
  15. ^ MacDonald 2005, pp. 257–58.
  16. ^ Tingen, Paul (October 2007). "Secrets Of The Mix Engineers: Joe Chiccarelli". Sound on Sound. Retrieved 26 July 2017.