photo of Chromelodeon I
Photo by Paul McAdams

BUILT: 1945, at the University of Wisconsin.
SIZE: Six keyboard octaves (not acoustic octaves).
MATERIALS: Reeds are inserted for a 43-tone-to-the-octave scale. Thus, an acoustic octave covers that many keys and reeds, successively, and measures some three and a half keyboard octaves. The scale is in just intonation, and each tone is a frequency ratio to a fundamental, shown on the keyboard by colors. With the thirteen sub-bass reeds, and the stops for higher and lower tones in the second cell row, the total range of the instrument is from the lowest piano C to the third C# above middle C, slightly more than five acoustic octaves. All the other instruments are tuned to the Chromelodeon.

CHROMELODEON II, begun in 1946 and involving an unusual keyboard, remains unfinished. A second CHROMELODEON II was used in Oedipus and in Revelation. A previous reed organ, involving a keyboard somewhat like a typewriter, was built in 1935, but never used in music.

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