Novachord – Steampunk Polysynth

Posted by on Jun 23, 2012 in Videos | 3 comments

I’m a huge fan of Steampunk … marrying old Victorian and early 20th century technology with the modern… or adapting modern technology into ‘Jules Verne’ styling of copper, brass, bakelite and wood … and it occurred to me that the 1939 Hammond Novachord is the original Steampunk synth – a polyphonic synthesiser capable of making fabulous sounds that are quite ahead of their time but driven by hundreds of valves and capacitors and housed in a glorious wooden case with bakelite knobs and switches and ‘Plaskon’ keys. So I have put together a montage of Steampunk imagery to accompany a montage of music made entirely using the Novachord samples I am working on. I have segued images found on the net which include some fantastic ‘retro-future’ computers (some of which are actually fully functional PCs/Macs), Steampunk fashion and some astonishing pictures created by Steampunk artist, Sam Van Olffen (vanolffen.blogspot.com). I hope you enjoy it. More on the Novachord at http

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3 Comments

  1. Nice presentation, but still this is a few whole generations past Steampunk and those images. Now an electromechanical instrument like the Telharmonium would be much more in keeping. It has a wonderful eerie sound that was utilized by Hollywood. “The Twilight Zone” 20 years later makes good use of it on several episodes. Still, it can only be grouped as a synth on the basis of other organ-like instruments got tagged with the name too during by the 70s.

  2. The Novachord was over a quarter of century ahead of the Moog synthesiser – and the early Moogs were monophonic! Although it was a very expensive instrument, it almost defies belief that it wasn’t commercially successful.

  3. This is a very cool presentation of strnge devices, and visions of the future. :)

    I love the music! :)