Ask most people what instrument opens the Beatles' song “Strawberry Fields Forever” and they'll tell you: it’s a flute. But it's not a flute.
Meet the Mellotron. It's an analog instrument from the 1960s that connects dozens of loops of audio tape, each with a single, pre-recorded note, to a keyboard. It was a clunky and expensive precursor to synthesizers and modern music sampling.
Its inventors intended it as a replacement for an orchestra. At that task, it failed miserably. But musicians in the 1960s and 1970s fell in love with the instrument’s odd sound. That sound defined a musical era. And today, its quirky guts full of tape and levers looks very old school. Yet it's made a comeback, and is popular with modern musicians like Arcade Fire.
Full list of stories from KUOW Presents, June 19:
- Doctors Publicly Call Guantanamo Force-Feeding Torture, Urge Obama To Allow Non-Military Doctors In
- A New Kind Of Record Deal: Jay Z Signs With Mobile Phone Maker Samsung
- Washington Governor Jay Inslee On The Budget
- Teufelsberg: The Hill in West Berlin that was once home to a cold war listening post
- A Tale Of Two Cities, And A River, And A Bridge Collapse
- Janet Yellen: The next Fed chief?
- Mellotron: The Signature Sound of Progressive Rock
- Haiti 3-Year Anniversary
- Writer's Almanac
- The Big Earthquake
- A Tale Of Two Cities, A River, And A Bridge Collapse
- What's A Master Sommelier's Favorite Wine?