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Part 2: Instruments for Electronic Music Studios

The Hamograph and Smaller Studio Instruments

After the Electronic Music Studio opened at the University of Toronto, some aspects of the Sackbut's control system were built as separate devices for use by composers in the studio. These included Sine Wave Generators (860003); a Ring Modulator (860007), 1964; Oscillator with Adjustable Filter (860011), 1962; Envelope Shaper (860012), 1965; Function Generator (860013) , 1964; the Level Control Amplifier, 1962; and the Tone Shifter, 1962. The Tone Mixture Generator (860010), 1965, provided another method of combining sounds. Other such instruments included the Two-Channel Alternator, l964; the Device For Expansion and Compression, 1964; and the Octave Filter Bank (860009), a very comprehensive adjustable filter.

University of Toronto Electronic Music Studio: Myron Schaeffer operates a Multi-Track Tape Recorder. The Hamograph (910217) is the instrument in the back right corner. (National Library)

The Hamograph (910217) was built at the University of Toronto Studio in 1960 by its first director, Myron Schaeffer, in consultation with Le Caine. The instrument used exposed photographic negatives of varied darkness to control the comparative volume levels of several simultaneous sound tracks. It was intended primarily to automate the mixing of the six stereo output channels of the Multi-Track.

Through the studios, these devices became widely known to composers and their presence influenced other designers of electronic instruments. One of these was Robert Moog, who often visited the Toronto studio and later designed the first commercially successful voltage-controlled synthesizer, which became famous when Wendy (formerly Walter) Carlos's Switched-On Bach recording was released. Considerable excitement built up around the new studios and many new devices were designed for use within this context.