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David Vorhaus: Electronic Music 1979

Submitted by on November 3, 2009 – 3:18 pm 2 Comments

David Vorhaus is one of the original pioneers of electronic music in Britain – he worked in the BBC radiophonic workshop with Delia Derbyshire and was a founding member and mainstay of the band White Noise. He’s invented, created and built a lot of the gear that he uses (and still uses), and to this day he continues to push electronic music forward with new ideas, new sounds, and new equipment.

The video below takes us way back to 1979, where he discusses two of his analogue inventions – the MANIAC analogue sequencer, and the Kaleidophon.

The MANIAC (Multiphasic Analog Inter-Active Chromataphonic (sequencer)) was basically a monster analogue sequencer. It has variable step lengths and also has the ability to split sequences into several smaller units – this led to a huge amount of room for sequence improvisation. You definitely need to watch the video to comprehend what this thing can do.

The Kaleidophon looked sort of like an electronic double-bass that would seem at home in the pub scene in Star Wars. Instead of strings, it had four velocity-sensitive ribbon controllers. It’s played by the left hand only, which would allow the player to manipulate the sound with the right hand via a number of controllers and a joystick.

This excerpt is taken from the BBC 1979 documentary entitled “The New Sound of Music” hosted by Michael Rodd – it speaks about inspiration and the possibilities that innovative gear offers an electronic musician.


David has new MIDI versions of the MANIAC and Kaleidophon and has been performing live in Europe, China and the UK. If you want to hear some amazing electronic music from that time period, look for a copy of the original White Noise album with Delia Derbyshire, it’s fantastic.

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