Hear the Stylophone Orchestra playing the pocket synthesizer made famous by Bowie
The Stylophone is the most famous small synthesizer used by David Bowie on “Space Oddity”. First invented in 1967, it is played by touching a built-in stylus on the metal keyboard. Still readily available, the instrument has become a cult following among experimental musicians. For wonderful contemporary music from Stylophone, I recommend the new album Stylophoinika by the Kingston University Stylophone Orchestra. Listen above. The conductor of the orchestra is musician, writer and professor Leah Kardos who runs the university’s Visconti Studio, a recording and research facility co-founded with famed Bowie producer Tony Visconti. From Bandcamp:
Through legendary producer Tony Visconti, Leah was introduced to stylophone maker Dubreq, who donated a collection of new and vintage instruments to the University-based Visconti Studio Analog Instrument Archive. At the sight of a car trunk full of stylus phones, Leah found herself wondering aloud if a musical ensemble using the unique electronic instruments might be possible.
A poster is put up and a handful of intrepid students show up for a first rehearsal.
Although the Stylophone’s musical palette initially seems limited, its restrictions quickly inspire creativity and ingenuity.
With the orchestra made up of current and former students, as well as staff from across the University, the instantly recognizable sound of the original Stylophone has been augmented by the full range of Dubreq instruments, mixed with Theremin, Omnichord and Volca sequencers. , as well as the collective voices of members.
top image: Dhscommtech (CC BY-SA 3.0)