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The Mellotron

The Mellotron is an electro-mechanical, polyphonic tape replay keyboard originally developed and built in Birmingham, England, in 1963. It evolved from a similar instrument, the Chamberlin, but could be mass-produced more effectively. The instrument works by pulling a section of magnetic tape across a head. Different portions of the tape can be played to access different sounds.

The original models were designed to be used in the home, and contained a variety of sounds, including automatic accompaniments. Bandleader Eric Robinsonand television personality David Nixon were heavily involved in the instrument’s original publicity. A number of other celebrities such as Princess Margaret were early adopters.

The Mellotron became more popular after the Beatles used it on several tracks. It was subsequently adopted by the Moody Blues, King Crimson and Genesis, and became a notable instrument in progressive rock. Later models such as the M400, the best selling model, dispensed with the accompaniments and some sound selection controls in order to be used by touring musicians. The instrument became less popular in the 1980s due to the introduction of polyphonic synthesizers and samplers, despite a number of high-profile uses from Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark and XTC.

Production of the Mellotron ceased in 1986, but it regained popularity in the 1990s, and was used by several notable bands. This led to the resurrection of the original manufacturer, Streetly Electronics. In 2007, Streetly produced the M4000, which combined the layout of the M400 with the bank selection of earlier models.

(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)



Il mellotron è uno strumento musicale a tastiera divenuto popolare tra la fine degli anni sessanta e la prima metà degli anni settanta. Fu utilizzato per la prima volta da Graham Bond nell’album The Sound of ’65. Successivamente è stato usato anche da altri artisti, tra cui i Beatles, Brian Jones dei Rolling Stones, Rick Wright dei Pink Floyd, i Moody Blues, i Genesis, Rick Wakeman, gli Yes, i Pooh, John Paul Jones dei Led Zeppelin, Robert Fripp dei King Crimson, Robert Wyatt, i Jethro Tull, Barclay James Harvest e Herbie Hancock.

Lo strumento non ha un suono proprio, essendo pensato e realizzato per riprodurre strumenti musicali tipici dell’orchestra sinfonica o voci umane. Un esempio dei suoni selezionabili si può ascoltare nei primi secondi della canzone Strawberry Fields Forever, dove lo strumento, che allora era quasi sconosciuto, è suonato da Paul McCartney. Lo strumento è diventato negli anni settanta uno dei pilastri per i tessuti sinfonici molto usati nel progressive rock.

(Da Wikipedia, l’enciclopedia libera.)