Electrophone

The fifth top-level group, electrophone category was added to the Hornbostel Sachs musical instrument classfication system by Sachs in 1940, to describe instruments involving electricity. Sachs broke down his 5th category into 3 subcategories: 51=electrically actuated acoustic instruments; 52=electrically amplified acoustic instruments; 53= instruments in which make sound primarily by way of electrically driven oscillators, such as theremins or synthesizers, which he called radioelectric instruments. Francis William Galpin provided such a group in his own classification system, which is closer to Mahillon than Sachs-Hornbostel. For example, in Galpin's 1937 book "A Textbook of European Musical Instruments", he lists electrophones with three second-level divisions for sound generation ("by oscillation," "electro-magnetic," and "electro-static"), as well as third-level and fourth-level categories based on the control method. Sachs himself proposed subcategories 51, 52, and 53, on pages 447-467 of his 1940 book "The History of Musical Instruments". However, the original 1914 version of the system did not acknowledge the existence of his 5th category.

Present-day ethnomusicologists, such as Margaret Kartomi (page 173), and Terry Ellingson (PhD dissertation, 1979, p. 544) suggest that, in keeping with the spirit of the original Hornbostel Sachs classification scheme, of categorization by what first produces the initial sound in the instrument, that only subcategory 53 should remain in the electrophones category. Thus it has been more recently proposed that, for example, the pipe organ (even if it uses electric key action to control solenoid valves) remain in the aerophones category, and that the electric guitar remain in the chordophones category, and so on.

Thus, in present-day ethnomusicology, an electrophone is considered to be only musical instruments which produce sound primarily by electrical means. It is usually considered one of five main categories in the Hornbostel-Sachs scheme of musical instrument classification (though it is not actually present in the scheme published in 1914).

See also: Electronic musical instrument


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  • électrophone — [ elɛktrɔfɔn ] n. m. • 1888; de électro et phone 1 ♦ Vx Récepteur téléphonique amplifiant le son. 2 ♦ (1929 ) Mod. et cour. Appareil de reproduction d enregistrements phonographiques sur disque. ⇒ chaîne, phono, phonographe, pick up , tourne… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Electrophone — E*lec tro*phone, n. [Electro + Gr. fwnh sound.] (Physics) An instrument for producing sound by means of electric currents. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Electrophone — Zuhörer des Theatrophons an Münzapparaten, 1892 Das Theatrophon (franz.: Théâtrophone) war ein von Clément Ader entwickeltes System zur stereofonen Übertragung von Opern und Theateraufführungen über das Telefon. Es wurde 1881 in Paris erstmals… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Électrophone — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Table tournante. Électrophone des années 1960. Un tourne disque ou électrophone est un appareil électronique destiné à restitu …   Wikipédia en Français

  • électrophone — gramofonas statusas T sritis fizika atitikmenys: angl. gramophone vok. Grammophon, n rus. граммофон, m pranc. électrophone, m …   Fizikos terminų žodynas

  • electrophone — ▪ musical instrument       any of a class of musical instruments in which the initial sound either is produced by electronic means or is conventionally produced (as by a vibrating string) and electronically amplified. Electronically amplified… …   Universalium

  • electrophone — noun Any instrument designed to create sounds using electrical currents See Also: electrophonic …   Wiktionary

  • electrophone — n. instrument for producing sound by means of electric currents …   English contemporary dictionary

  • electrophone — elec·tro·phone …   English syllables

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