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Intensity Key of the Ondes Martenot: An Early Mechanical Haptic Device

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While the Ondes Martenot is one of the oldest electronic musical instruments, it is still played today. It is known for making extremely expressive electronic sounds. A major advantage of the Ondes Martenot is that it enables players to control the temporal dynamics of notes in a particularly sensitive manner by pressing an “intensity key”. In this paper, the intensity key is characterized experimentally. Measurements were carried out on the force with which the musician presses on the key, the depression of the key, and the resulting sound. It is demonstrated that this key provides a broad dynamic range of 50 dB for each note over the entire range of the instrument. Moreover, the change in sound intensity of the notes depends only on the displacement of the intensity key and then on the force applied on it. Mechanical parts of the intensity key were made for the musician to control finely and smoothly the variations of the sound produced by the instrument. A mechanical model is developed to explain experimental results. It appears that fine control is related to the mechanical behavior of the key: it acts as a well-chosen non-linear spring. It shows a linear relationship between the logarithm of the finger force on the key and the dBSPL increase.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2015

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  • Acta Acustica united with Acustica, published together with the European Acoustics Association (EAA), is an international, peer-reviewed journal on acoustics. It publishes original articles on all subjects in the field of acoustics, such as general linear acoustics, nonlinear acoustics, macrosonics, flow acoustics, atmospheric sound, underwater sound, ultrasonics, physical acoustics, structural acoustics, noise control, active control, environmental noise, building acoustics, room acoustics, acoustic materials, acoustic signal processing, computational and numerical acoustics, hearing, audiology and psychoacoustics, speech, musical acoustics, electroacoustics, auditory quality of systems. It reports on original scientific research in acoustics and on engineering applications. The journal considers scientific papers, technical and applied papers, book reviews, short communications, doctoral thesis abstracts, etc. In irregular intervals also special issues and review articles are published.
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