Keyboard player Mark Feaver talks about his passion for music and why he gave preference to the keyboard of all the instruments. The story of the amazing “army piano” heard in childhood struck the boy so much that he decided to learn how to play the piano.
Today, anyone can become a musician: for this, it’s enough to start a YouTube blog. You do not even need to spend money on expensive equipment. A simple computer and special software allow you to solve all the necessary tasks:
- how to reduce the sound
- how to download youtube songs
- how to clear the track of noise
- how to erase a voice on a recording
- You can even mix your own composition.
Nowadays, creating unique and high-quality musical compositions is possible not only for professionals and experts with special equipment, but also for beginner and amateur players at home. The best programs for creating and editing music will help to cope with this task. But are electronic gadgets and software capable of replacing real tools? Can FL Studio replace organ or Rhodes Piano?
The main reason for the creation of electromechanical pianos, which appeared in the early 20s of the last century, was the desire to make the piano more compact, easy to manufacture and, therefore, more affordable. The designers also tried, in one way or another, to provide the instrument with the ability to produce different tones.
Almost all electric pianos were created by enthusiastic engineers, most of whom were musicians. Perhaps that is why many of these tools have been so successful and have been very successful for decades. The early electric pianos were traditional pianos in which pickups of a particular design were installed.
The History of the Army Piano
Harold Burroughs Rhodes learned piano early enough, and having received a musical education, he decided to devote himself to teaching music in schools; by the age of 20, he had already developed his own “Rhodes method,” based on the student’s understanding of the physical processes of sound, and even organized an “All-American” network of music schools. At the same time, he attended classes at the architectural school of the University of Southern California and planned to enter the music department. But the Second World War began, and Rhodes dissolved the “school network”, joined the US Air Force and was awaiting appointment to the army as an instructor at the Greensboro Air Base in North Carolina.
The appointment was delayed, and the active Rhodes began to teach his army comrades how to play the piano. When the authorities asked Harold to teach the patients of the military hospital the music, Rhodes immediately realized that he needed a cheap but reliable keyboard instrument, and he had the idea to create a portable acoustic piano that would serve as a means of moral support and entertainment for wounded pilots. As a result, Rhodes in 1942 built a completely acoustic, without a single radio component, instrument with 29 keys, which was called the Rhodes Army Air Corps Piano.
The “strings” were aluminum tubes of the hydraulic system of decommissioned B-17 bombers, straightened and cut into pieces of the appropriate length, like a xylophone. The two and a half octave keyboard was made of coniferous wood, the sound was extracted by hitting wooden hammers with pipes. Rhodes himself describes the “Air Force piano” as “such a simple instrument that at times it even seemed ridiculous.” But, according to him, he fulfilled his mission perfectly: “At that time, my goal was not to create an instrument for profit. It was only to distract the recovering soldiers from their problems. For example, we turned their phone numbers – or any sequence of numbers that they could remember – in a melody, harmonizing them then with simple chords. “
The program became popular, Rhodes was sent to headquarters to draw up drawings and instructions, which later became known as Air Corps Manual No. 29. The original Sit Down and Play today is one of the exhibits at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History.
Harold Rhodes: ” Unlike invention teaching is my strength”
Several thousand small pianos were released, and Harold Rhodes received a military award for participating in this “humanitarian project.” After leaving the army, Rhodes thought: is it possible to repeat his success in civilian life? He understood that the Air Force piano was not suitable for home use; It was necessary to create an inexpensive tool with advanced features. Harold founded a firm called The Rhodes Piano Corporation, and in 1946, at the National Association of Music Merchants, Rhodes introduced a model called Pre-Piano, its first electromechanical piano. The three-octave instrument had 38 keys covering the middle register, a built-in tube amplifier, a six-inch speaker and electrostatic pickups. The tuning forks (produced at the toy factory) with a diameter of about 1 centimeter were used as sound generators; the lowest was approximately 20 centimeters long. All this was placed in a wooden case with legs and was very reminiscent of a children’s piano.
The model was intended for educational purposes. Her sound was almost a toy, with the characteristic color of a barrel organ and bells. Despite the relatively low price and unusual design, the Pre-Piano failed. However, based on this instrument, Wurlitzer launched its model of electric piano.
After the failure of Pre-Riano, Rhodes began working on a keyboard instrument with 72 notes, the body of which resembled a cabinet grand piano. During an advertising tour of America, the instrument caught the attention of Leo Fender, the inventor of electric bass.
In 1959, Rhodes and Fender decided to become partners, and Leo bought The Rhodes Piano Corporation. In 1959, the first production model of the electromechanical piano appeared – Fender Rhodes Piano Bass.
The instrument had 32 keys covering the same frequency range as the bass guitar. The prototype Piano Bass was on display in 1960 at an exhibition in Las Vegas. The instrument still looked like a toy piano, had four legs and a pedal. Piano Bass gained the greatest fame as the bass instrument of The Doors.