Talk:Ondes Martenot

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I just heard on Radio 3 an announcer mentioning that there are at least 30 concertos for the ondes, although that's not really a citeable source. [1] mentions someone who played 14 of them, but I'm reluctant to cite a source for 14 when I know it's actually 30. Just a thought for anyone who wants to build up the article. Mark1 20:22, 28 December 2005 (UTC)

Playing technique/instrument details[edit]

Some points to expand on in the article: The Ondes Martenot can be played in two ways: you can either play the keyboard, to produce precise pitches like on an organ, or move your hand along the keyboard while pulling a string coming out at the side of the keyboard, to produce full-range glissando sounds. The left hand has controls for volume. The original design, as used by Messiaen, came with several different speakers, with different tonal qualities; one had strings spun across it to produce resonant tones, like the sympathetic strings on a sitar. (I have picked up this knowledge over the years by being a Messiaen fan, but I cannot quote precise sources. Someone will have to investigate further :-)

I saw the Ondes being played by Cynthia Millar when they performed the Ballet from The Red Shoes at the BBC Proms on 14 July 2007. Cynthia didn't have much to do in the first part. The Ondes comes in with a full glissando. I didn't notice any string in use but I was sitting some distance from her (the Royal Albert Hall is a big place). She played the keyboard with her right hand and altered the controls with her left. But what controls are available? It seems to be more than just the volume and tone because it had a huge range give the short keyboard -- SteveCrook 13:07, 25 August 2007 (UTC)
I'm currently in the process of adding playing information to the article. In time I will add technical details. straypixel 28/03/08
Nice, thanks -- SteveCrook (talk) 05:58, 28 March 2008 (UTC)

Star Trek theme: Ondes Martenot or Theremin?[edit]

The Theremin article claims a Theremin was used. This needs to be researched! Ibadibam 22:39, 6 June 2006 (UTC) The article on the theme itself lists a vocalist. I seem to recall hearing that different seasons had different versions. Ibadibam 00:49, 7 June 2006 (UTC)

I saw the original score once, I believe it was in either Buffalo, NY or Rochester, NY. It was for sure not a vocal part, but for a theremin or ondes martenot. There were no professional theremin players around at that time. WilcoB 11:46, 10 August 2006 (UTC)
BBC Radio 6 Music - The Great Bleep Forward claims a Ondes Martenot was used.
I have never heard the very first version, but the version I know is a soprano voice, definitely. Anyway, the article on the theme claims that for the first season, no soprano was used, leaving the field open for either a theremin (which I doubt) or an ondes. Or neither. -- megA 11:42, 25 August 2007 (UTC)
EDIT: Just heard the original version. The melody is first introduced by woodwinds, maybe backed by a Novachord or a similar early synthesizer. After the first bars, the theme is taken over by the trumpets. No Ondes, no theremin, no voice as far as I can hear. -- megA (talk) 23:29, 17 March 2008 (UTC)
In fact there was ONE single version of the theme in which an Ondes Martenot was used (see my edit) (talk) 02:22, 6 November 2008 (UTC)
That's a rather exotic claim and should be backed with a citation. -- megA (talk) 12:12, 6 November 2008 (UTC)
EDIT: I just listened to a copy of the unaltered episode. In fact, there isn't anything even remotedly sounding like an Ondes OR a Theremin OR a voice on that episode's (non-standard) end credits music. The theme (which is not the standard Star Trek theme) is carried by french horns and (later) trumpets. Please give a source if you want to re-add it. -- megA (talk) 18:15, 8 November 2008 (UTC)

Touring Martenot[edit]

The article had said that Jonny Greenwood plays the Ondes Martenot in Radiohead concerts, but Mark Brend, in talking about the instrument on a recent installment of public radio's To the Best of Our Knowledge, says Radiohead synthesizes the sound for touring, out of fear that the studio Martenot is too fragile to make the trip. I took the sentence out about playing the instrument in concert, not as a judgment that the article was wrong and the radio show was right, but rather to avoid the contradiction until someone definitively irons it out.

Answer: As the answer below clarifies, he had a more portable one built by Analogue Systems to take on the road with him because he was afraid of damaging his "actual" Ondes. There should be enough photographic and video evidence around to erase any doubts about Jonny playing the Ondes live, in particular on tracks including "The National Anthem" and "How to Disappear Completely".

Kid A Era SNL Performances[edit]

I could have sworn that I saw one of these instruments being played on SNL by Mr. Greenwood. There were numbers of SNL concert MPG movies floating around the net of Radiohead's appearance when Kid A came out. I recall seeing "The National Anthem" and "Idioteque" being performed live on SNL, and I thought I saw one of these instruments being played by Mr. Greenwood. Can anyone verify?

Answer: Yes, that is indeed an Ondes Martenot that Jonny Greenwood is playing. It is an analogue controller designed to emulate the Ondes Mrtenot, which was built by Analogue Systems and called the "French Connection." This version is more portable, and is cheaper than the actual Ondes Martenot synthesizers. However, it lacks the sound generators of the original instruments, so it does not have as wide a tonal palette.

Maybe it's important that "Ondes Martenot" is a registered trademark owned by Maurice Martenot's now defunct "Lutherie Electronique" (actually "Electronic Lute-makers") Neither the Ondéa, which is a quite faithful replica of the ondes, nor the Franch Connection, which is basically a CV controller for analog modular synths, may be called Ondes Martenot. -- megA 11:56, 25 August 2007 (UTC)

We need more info on this thang![edit]

Questions, questions... who has the answers? Does anyone have Johnny Greenwood's phone number? He seems to know... --Sean 19:10, 6 October 2006 (UTC)

Here's a link that might be of some interest: Interview with Shiro Sasaki AngelFire3423 (talk) 07:07, 18 March 2011 (UTC)


The article has a tag saying that it contradicts another article, but I can't find any explanation here. Can someone help me out? Is that tag obsolete? Should it be removed? Joshua Davis 22:02, 18 November 2006 (UTC)

It's the Star Trek contoversey, I believe. See above --Bill Huston (talk) 18:44, 10 December 2006 (UTC)
The box says there are details here. There aren't, so I'm deleting it. If somebody can provide any details put it back. --대조 | Talk 19:03, 4 February 2007 (UTC)

But how does it work?[edit]

The article says that the Ondes Martenot produces a sound similar to that of the Theremin. Is the sound also produced in a similar way? How is it different? The Theremin article has a fairly nice explanation of what makes it work, but I don't see anything similar here. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 01:19, 14 March 2007 (UTC).

The electrical principle is called heterodyning. Two electronic oscillators produce different freqencies in the tens of kHz region. The difference between the pitches produces a 'resultant' pitch in the audible range (for example, oscillators beating together at 20,000Hz and 20,440Hz will produce a resultant of 440Hz). The control mechanisms (ring and keyboard) control the frequency of the second oscillator, and consequently the resultant frequency. The electronics are indeed similar to those of the Theremin. Unlike the Theremin, the registration controls of the ondes provide much greater scope for altering the timbre. I am quite certain that these timbral controls (named, in French, Creux,Gambe,Petit gambe and Nasillard) put into the signal chain distortive processes and filters which produce the resulting waveforms, although this is by my own deduction (and I'm not an electrical engineer). I am currently collating technical information on the ondes and I will endeavour to incorporate this into the article when time allows. Specifically, I am waiting for a book from Canada by player Jean Laurendeau, which will provide some more historical information too. If you are particularly interested, I recommend Jeanne Loriod's two-volume 'Technique de l'onde electronique, type Martenot', volume 1 of which contains some fascinating background. jdpercival, 28/03/08

I read the first few paragraphs and it really doesn't tell me anything about the instrument, other than it's uses. I'd like to be reminded that it's the instrument that I saw in a History Channel special way back when that lets you control sound by physically moving your hand, if it's even that.

Um, every instrument is controlled by physically moving your hand(s). What do you mean? -- megA 11:51, 25 August 2007 (UTC)

"In 2008, there is a project to rebuild an instrument..."[edit]

In 2008, there is a project to rebuild an instrument which is as close as possible to the original.

I did not add this, but I can cite prominent player Thomas Bloch who has told me that his instrument technician is currently building a prototype ondes clone based on instruments in the Paris Conservatoire and reconstructed technical plans. jdpercival 30/03/08

By the way, this is a separate project to the 'Ondea', which is a digital clone of the ondes. jdpercival 24/04/08 —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:26, 24 April 2008 (UTC)

Jeanne Loriod[edit]

Many of these works were written for [Messiaen's] sister-in-law, Jeanne Loriod...

I have removed this sentence - it simply isn't true. Jeanne Loriod was only 16 years old when Trois petites liturgies was composed and 20 when Turangalîla was premiered. After that point, Messiaen did not score for the ondes again until St. François d'Assise in the late 70s. According to Cynthia Millar, Loriod only entered Martenot's conservatoire class in 1947. So in fact, Jeanne Loriod can only have been in Messiaen's mind for this one piece. Ginette Martenot, the inventor's sister, premiered Fête des belles eaux, Trois petites liturgies and Turangalîla. It is certainly true however that Jeanne Loriod became the most famed exponent of Messiaen's ondes writing. jdpercival 30/03/08


Why is this article titled with the lowercase tag. I see that the correct spelling is ondes Martenot - but you would start a sentance with a small o on ondes, would you ? -- Beardo (talk) 01:02, 10 August 2008 (UTC)

I was wondering that too... A Smashed Pumpkin (talk) 03:18, 17 August 2008 (UTC)
It's a flaw of Wikipedia. The first character must be capitalised to make internal Wiki links valid. See Wikipedia:Naming conventions (technical restrictions). jdpercival (talk) 13/09/08 —Preceding undated comment was added at 15:38, 13 September 2008 (UTC).
It is true that Wiki links require this, but it is hardly a flaw. In English (also in French), the convention is always to capitalize the first word of a title. Wikipedia chooses the less common (in English) "sentence case" convention for the remainder of the title, rather than capitalizing the first and last, and all other words except articles, conjunctions, and prepositions.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 19:49, 13 September 2008 (UTC)

Misplaced Miscellany from Top of This Page[edit]

these comments were just sitting uncategorized at the top of the this Talk page, so i just stuffed them down here to get them out of the way and clean things up. please post properly! -Elgaroo (talk) 17:48, 19 March 2011 (UTC)

Yes, I know I'm supposed to Move a page rather than just create a new one and replace the old one by a redirect, but there were 2 different old pages, both incorrectly titled:

  • Ondes martenot
  • Ondes-martenot

Each had slightly different content, so rather than have to decide which one was "worthier" to be moved, I moved neither of them and integrated their contents here --PS4FA

There's a somewhat obscure piece by Messiaen (quite an early one, I think) which is for six (or is it four?) Ondes Martenots, the title of which escapes me - anybody happen to know what it's called? It'd be worth mentioning, I think. Pieces for massed Martenots aren't very common. --Camembert

It's Called "Fêtes des belles Eaux" (1937). It is indeed for 6 Ondes Martenots. There is a recording of it on cd by Jeanne Loriod, Messiaen's sister-in-law. Two movements from it were later rewritten for other instruments and incorporated into the "Quatuor pour la Fin du Temps".

An Ondes Martenot is featured on three tracs (Soft Shoe Dancer, Sweet Tune and Sleepwalker) on the Norwegian progrock band Popol Ace's third album "Stolen from Time", played by guest musician Sylvette Allard. --magnus bruheim

"Odna" Score: Theremin or ondes Martenot?[edit]

sorry, just trying to sort this out. i know that early ondes Martenots especially could easily sound much like a theremin (and most laypeople don't or can't make the distinction) and were often used in stead of a theremin, even in compositions specifically for theremin, as they are so much easier to play, and an effectively skilled theremin player is often very hard to come by. but the score to the russian film "Odna" is often proclaimed to be the first movie soundtrack utilizing an electronic instrument. it is listed here as an ondes Martenot, but most other sources list it as a Theremin. can someone come up with a definitive source to sort this out? perhaps it is a bit of a moot point, but i would think whichever instrument was actually recorded would be the point here, not whatever it might have been written for or which was used for later public performances...? perhaps the distinction is lost to history, but it is rather confusing to find it listed either way depending on where you look on the internet...P thanks! -Elgaroo (talk) 18:14, 19 March 2011 (UTC)

Shostakovich's score used a theremin (and was the first score to use it), which was popular at that time in Soviet Russia (Theremin was Russian and the Theremin was invented in Russia), whereas the Ondes Martenot was used almost exclusively in France. (especially in the early 30s, when both instruments were still in their "infancy".) The "house" thereminist for Russian film in those years was Konstantin Kovalsky. You can see him perform in this movie from 1932: Komsomol, Patron of Electrification There were never Ondes Martenots in Russia, AFAIK, not even today. Would the liner notes of the soundtrack reissue for "Odna" suffice as a source? EDIT: I just found this passage in Glinsky's Ether Music ans Espionage:
"In the infancy of sound film, just after its first gurgles and cries in the late '20s, Soviet composers began to discover the [theremin] instrument. For underscoring scenes of mystery, terror, or the macabre, its tremulous, disembodied electronic howl was irresistible. Dmitri Shostakovich gave it a cameo role in his score for the 1931 film Alone [Odna]," [...]
I think this solves the problem. -- megA (talk) 16:30, 22 March 2011 (UTC)

Abbreviations in the Turangalîla score[edit]

In this score (printed 1953), Messiaen uses certain abbreviations that do not correspond to the modern timbre designations. Here are some examples:

  • "métallisé amplifié - M 4 3 2 1",
  • "feutré - O C A",
  • "son tournant" (??),
  • "timbre Onde - A",
  • "onde métallisé gambé amplifié - M C B A 2 1",
  • "C B 3 2 1",
  • "cuivré - C 3 2 1"
  • "timbre d'éspace, onde, métallisé palme M P A 1"

I guess "métallisé" (M) wound be D3, "amplifié" (A or B?) = D1, "palme" (P) is D4, Onde = modern O, gambé = G or g, "feutré" means damped, "cuivré" means "brassy", but what do the letters and numbers actually mean (on a modern O. M.)? And what would be the "son tournant" ("rotating sound")?

Can anyone shed some light on these abbreviations? Would they be relevant for the article? I suspect they are described in Jeanne Loriod's "Technique de l'onde électronique", but I've never found it. -- megA (talk) 22:33, 26 March 2011 (UTC) [EDIT]I saw Thomas Bloch with T. S. recently, and "son tournant" means a slow "circling" motion around the pitch (like a very slow and broad vibrato) -- megA (talk) 08:44, 31 August 2012 (UTC)

Résonance Speaker[edit]

Hello, the "Playing technique" section has a pic with only three of the loudspeakers shown, if possible can we get a pic of the Résonance loudspeaker added to that section on, or better yet a single pic with all four speakers.
Thank you — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:28, 15 September 2012 (UTC)

In Cinema and Television[edit]

Please consider adding that Henry Mancini used the Martenot in the film score It Came From Outer Space. [1] Haineux (talk) 19:57, 3 May 2014 (UTC)


In Popular Music[edit]

The rock band Muse also used the Ondes Martenot in one of their works (in "Resistance" off the album "The Resistance"). This could be added to the article in the designated section.[1] Sapphiruby (talk) 07:29, 24 June 2014 (UTC)
[EDIT] I realised that the synth used was actually a French Connection controller modelled after the Ondes Martenot, so this is superfluous. I'll leave it on here because this mistake could happen again - as you can see from my reference, MuseWiki, which is generally believed by the fans, states he's using an Ondes. Further confusion could be prevented this way. Sapphiruby (talk) 06:58, 25 June 2014 (UTC)


External links modified[edit]

Hello fellow Wikipedians,

I have just added archive links to one external link on Ondes Martenot. Please take a moment to review my edit. If necessary, add {{cbignore}} after the link to keep me from modifying it. Alternatively, you can add {{nobots|deny=InternetArchiveBot}} to keep me off the page altogether. I made the following changes:

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Question? Archived sources still need to be checked

Cheers.—cyberbot IITalk to my owner:Online 04:44, 26 February 2016 (UTC)

Translation from Japanese[edit]

There has been a banner on this article for over ten years requesting material to be translated from the Japanese article. It was originally on the talk page and transferred to the article more recently. I have removed this, assuming it to be out of date, but if there is still material on the Japanese page that could usefully be added, please state what it is here – or alternatively just translate it and add to the article. --Deskford (talk) 22:18, 2 August 2016 (UTC)