Stylophone

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Stylophone
Typemusical instrument, toy
InventorBrian Javis
Inception1967
ManufacturerDubreq
AvailableYes
Models madeS1, S2, Beat Box, Gen X-1, GEN R-8, Analog Sound S1, Bowie Limited Edition
Websitehttps://dubreq.com/

Mid-1970s Stylophone being played

The Stylophone is a miniature analog stylus-operated keyboard. Invented in 1967 by Brian Jarvis,[1] it entered production in 1968, manufactured by Dubreq.

Original model[edit]

It consists of a metal keyboard made of printed circuit board and played by touching it with a stylus—each note being connected to a voltage-controlled oscillator via a different-value resistor—thus closing a circuit. The only other controls were a power switch and a vibrato control on the front panel beside the keyboard, and a tuning potentiometer on the rear. Some three million Stylophones were sold, mostly as children's toys, but were occasionally used by professional musicians such as Rolf Harris, John Lennon,[2] Kraftwerk and David Bowie.[3]

The Stylophone was available in three variants: standard, bass, and treble, the standard one being by far the most common. There was also a larger version called the 350S with more notes on the keyboard, various voices, a novel 'wah-wah' effect that was controlled by moving one's hand over a photo-sensor, and two styluses.

In the mid-1970s a new model appeared which featured pseudo-wood on the speaker panel and a volume control. This was shortly before the Stylophone ceased production altogether in 1975.

The entertainer Rolf Harris appeared for several years as the Stylophone's advertising spokesman in the United Kingdom, and appeared on many "play-along" records sold by the manufacturer.[2]

2007 revival[edit]

2007 relaunch Stylophone from Re:creation

In October 2007, 28 years after the Stylophone went out of production, toy company Re:creation, in conjunction with Dubreq Ltd (re-formed in 2003 by Ben Jarvis, the son of the original inventor), re-launched the Stylophone, having it manufactured in China. The new model, officially called the S1, is a digital copy that closely resembles the 1960s original but has a volume control and features an audio throughput function, as well as sporting two new sounds.[4]

Stylophone S2[edit]

In December 2012, Dubreq released the Series 2 Stylophone, a British-made, true analogue synthesizer.[5]

Stylophone Beat Box[edit]

This model strays from the normal box-shaped stylophone. It is a mainly round case that has a circular keypad containing 13 contact areas. It offers 3 different sound banks and a tempo control. It also features a basic record/loop function.

Stylophone Gen X-1[edit]

In January 2017, Dubreq released details of the Stylophone Gen X-1 portable analogue synthesizer.[6] It was designed and manufactured by Dubreq [7] and retails at £59.99 or €69.99.

Stylophone GEN R-8[edit]

In 2019 Dubreq announced the Gen R-8, a limited edition, full-analogue, metal-cased stylophone. This version has features seen on more expensive analogue synthesizers and is considerably larger than the standard model. An initial batch of 500 has been released.

Stylophone Analog Sound S1[edit]

In 2020, Dubreq released a replacement for the 2007 S1. The new model is visually similar to its predecessor, but has less rounded corners and no auxiliary input. Internally, the digital sampled sounds have been replaced by an analogue oscillator based around a 555 timer IC, and the tone selector offers three octave ranges. The sound is much more similar to the 1970s versions.

Bowie Limited Edition[edit]

In 2021 Dubreq launched a limited edition version of the Analog S1 as a tribute to the late David Bowie. This model has an all-white finish, has an official Bowie logo moulded into the chromed grille, and comes with a colour-printed booklet including photos, interviews and tablature for a selection of Bowie's songs.

In popular culture[edit]

  • John Lennon played a Stylophone during a rehearsal of the George Harrison song "Old Brown Shoe" on 28 January 1969.[8]
  • David Bowie is credited with playing the Stylophone on his 1969 debut hit song "Space Oddity" and also for his 2002 album Heathen track titled "Slip Away,"[9] as well as on the song "Heathen (The Rays)". In September 2021, Dubreq announced a limited edition of Stylophone dedicated to Bowie.[10]
  • Kraftwerk's 1981 song "Pocket Calculator" uses the Stylophone. It is one of the main instruments on this track and a 'Stylophone solo' ends the song.[3]
  • The 1999 track "Style" (and its several other versions) by Orbital takes its name from Stylophone, which is used extensively on the track.[11]
  • BBC film critic Mark Kermode played a Stylophone on the 8 January 2010 instalment of his and Simon Mayo's film review programme. Kermode described recently learning how to play the instrument.[12]
  • On the 5 March 2010 edition of his Kermode Uncut vodcast, Mark Kermode played a rendition of Richard Strauss' Sunrise on the Stylophone in homage to Duncan Jones' film Moon.[13]
  • Richard Barone uses the Stylophone on numerous recordings, including "Glow" and '"Girl" on his 2010 album Glow. On the latter song it is played by his producer Tony Visconti.
  • The Stylophone is used as a main instrument by Russian rock group Gromyka [ru].[14]
  • British band Pulp use the Stylophone prominently in their song "Styloroc (Nites of Suburbia)", which appears on their 1992 Babies single and 1993 compilation album Intro – The Gift Recordings.[15]
  • The 2017 film Baby Driver features the Stylophone.[16]

References[edit]

  1. ^ David McNamee. "Hey, what's that sound: Stylophone | Music". Theguardian.com. Retrieved 4 June 2015.
  2. ^ a b Michael Johnson. "Do you remember Stylophone?". doyouremember.co.uk. Retrieved 4 March 2017.
  3. ^ a b "Top 5 Stylophone Songs - Get Inspired!". www.pmtonline.co.uk. Retrieved 16 January 2022.
  4. ^ Elliott, Amy-Mae (14 September 2007). ""Iconic" Seventies Stylophone to be revived by HMV". Pocket-Lint Ltd. Retrieved 10 April 2008.
  5. ^ "Dubreq Stylophone S2". Stylophone2.com. 28 January 2013. Archived from the original on 6 October 2017. Retrieved 4 June 2015.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  6. ^ "Dubreq Stylophone Gen X-1". Mi-pro.co.uk. 9 January 2017. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
  7. ^ "Stylophone GEN-X1 – Dubreq". dubreq.com. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  8. ^ The Beatles: Get Back, part 3, 00:56:54
  9. ^ "Dubreq Stylophone Gen X-1". Mi-pro.co.uk. 9 January 2017. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
  10. ^ "Stylophone on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 17 September 2021.
  11. ^ "The single and the instrument described by Loopz, the official Orbital fanzine".
  12. ^ "BBC Radio 5 live - Kermode and Mayo's Film Review, 08/01/2010". Bbc.co.uk. 8 January 2010. Retrieved 4 June 2015.
  13. ^ Kermode, Mark (5 March 2010). "Moon Music". BBC. Archived from the original on 9 March 2010.
  14. ^ "ГРОМЫКА - "Говорил я вам"/ GROMYKA - "As I Said Unto You"" (in Russian). YouTube.com. 5 November 2015. Archived from the original on 22 December 2021. Retrieved 12 April 2016.
  15. ^ "Pulp - Styloroc (Nites of Suburbia)". YouTube.com. 28 April 2009. Archived from the original on 22 December 2021. Retrieved 13 July 2016.
  16. ^ "Stylophone Baby DriverAttack".