Archiphone (1970)

BW photo of the Archiphone

Since 1970 four archiphones have been built by Herman van der Horst of the firm Neonvox in Wilp, Gelderland at the instigation of Anton de Beer. The keyboard layout is essentially the same as on the Fokker-organ. The keys are closer to one another, making more rapid playing possible. Transistor oscillators are the tone source. It has some 40 different timbres, equally divided between the 8- and 4-foot "stops".
The instrument was introduced on 1 november 1970 at Teyler's Museum. Anton de Beer had quickly written a demonstration piece with all kinds of puns with higher harmonics and natural thirds and sevenths. One scene of Joel Mandelbaum's opera The Dybbuk was also performed with the archiphone accompanied by a vocal quartet and violin duo.

Description by the manufacturer

The Archiphone features a 5-octave keyboard (from c - c): two bass and three treble octaves; both the bass and the treble sections are controlled by ten stops each. Panel A represents the bass section. Panel B the treble.

Stops 1 and 2 - woodwinds
Stops 3 and 4 - flute - soft reed quality
Stops 5 and 6 - trumpet tone
Stop 7 - string tone
Stops 8, 9, 10 - mixing filters

Tone controls may be used separately or in combination with each other. Each of the two channels is fed into a separate amplifier and corresponding speaker. Panel C compises six controls:

1 - tremolo depth
2 - tremolo speed
3 and 4 - preset keys to produce either piano (percussion) or organ-tone. This is an optional extra
5 and 6 - separate volume controls for bass and treble octaves

Panel D.

1 - pilot light
2 - on-off mains switch
3 - when in off position: the keyboard is divided in two bass and three treble octaves.
- when in on position: bass and treble octaves are coupled in which case Panel A controls the right-hand speaker, Panel B the left-hand one.

The left-hand pedal controls speaker volume. The right-hand panel is used whenever a sustain effect is to be achieved. Its function is comparable to the loud pedal on the piano.

The keyboard is made up of 333 keys; key switches are of the reed contact type, which is basically a tiny switch inside a glass tube; the switch is activated by a ring magnet. The keys are made out of hard plactic material in five colours.

white - for the naturals
black - for the sharps
light-grey - for semi-flats
dark-grey - for flats
blue - for semi-sharps

Plug-in printed circuit boards are used throughout. The unit is portable. Two 50-Watt amplifiers, frequency range 20 - 80,000 Hz. Two speaker boxes, each equipped with one Lowther speaker with a range of 25 - 22,000 Hz. Approximate overall measurements 116 × 40 × 15 cm. The instrument is housed in a cabinet which can be supplied in different kinds of wood finished with high-grade lacquers.

The archiphones are now (1987) at the following locations:
1-2. Haarlem (Huygens-Fokker Foundation);
3. Blackheath, New South Wales, Australia (William Coates);
4. St. Louis, Missouri, USA (Webster College).
Several compositions have been written for the archiphone since 1970, for example by Adriaan Fokker, Henk Badings, Anton de Beer, and Joel Mandelbaum. An instruction method was written by Anton de Beer: Guide for the use of the archiphone (1976).


photo of the Archiphone


photo of the Archiphone