Rhythmicon Machine: Worlds First electric drum machine

On our research trip to Moscow we were privileged to meet Andrey Smirnov, author of ‘Sound in Z’. Andrey showed us the Rhythmicon machine built by Leon Theremin in 1931. The machine is also known as the ‘polyrhythmaphone’ and can play up to 16 different rhythms at one time, this was built to produce patterns that it would be impossible for a human being to perform; for example to play triplets against quadruplets. The mechanism includes a fast turning metal wheel with 16 levels of hole cut outs that correspond to different pattern and rhythms. The sounds are produced by the light shining through the holes onto multiple photocell and mirrors.  Noise Orchestra were allowed to play and record the mahcine, we will use the recordings for our soundscapes as part of the Light Fantastic Residency.

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