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The Clavivox was a keyboard sound synthesizer and sequencer developed by American composer Raymond Scott.


Scott had earlier built a theremin as a toy for his daughter Carrie, and began developing the Clavivox, or "keyboard theremin," in 1952.[1][2] In 1956, he purchased an R.A. Moog Model 305 theremin from a young Bob Moog and incorporated its sound generator as part of a prototype Clavivox.[3] Scott's instrument allowed the use of portamento over a 3-octave range, which made it possible for the player to control the synthesizer via a keyboard, but with additional glide, giving it a "human" quality. Additionally, Scott's design added amplitude envelopes, vibrato and other effects.[4] Scott applied for a patent in December 1956 and was granted U.S. patent 2,871,745 on Feb. 3, 1959.

"A lot of the sound-producing circuitry of the Clavivox resembled very closely the first analog synthesizer my company made in the mid-'60s," Moog explained years later. "Some of the sounds are not the same, but they're close."[5]

Later Clavivox models used light shining through photographic film onto photocells as a source of control voltage to control pitch and timbre.

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  1. ^ "Raymond Scott: Artifacts from the Archives" (PDF). Retrieved March 21, 2024.
  2. ^ Crab, Simon (2013-09-22). "The 'Clavivox' Raymond Scott, USA, 1952". 120 Years of Electronic Music. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
  3. ^ Glinsky, Albert (2022). Switched On: Bob Moog and the Synthesizer Revolution. New York City, New York, US: Oxford University Press. pp. 32–33. ISBN 9780197642078.
  4. ^ Rhea, Tom (February 1981). "Electronic Perspectives - Raymond Scott's Clavivox & Electronium". Keyboard. Retrieved November 16, 2023.
  5. ^ Chusid, Irwin; Winner, Jeff (December 2001). "Circle Machines and Sequencers: The Untold History of Raymond Scott's Electronica". Electronic Magazine. Retrieved November 16, 2023.

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