Manikin Electronic - Harry's Collection CD
After World War II German high-tech kept entering the USA. Believing firmly in the sound quality of the German tape recorders, it was ‘Mr Jingle Bells’ Bing Crosby and his own firm who got the American public more and more enthusiastic about this new medium. At the end of the 1940s, after having recorded his own organ playing on tape, the Iowa born inventor Harry Chamberlin allegedly got the idea to build electric musical instruments based on tape recordings of real instruments. As early as 1948 he invented the world’s first drum machine, the tape loops equipped ‘Rhythmate 100’. After longstanding experiments in his garage in Upland/California his idea of a ‘tape organ’ gradually took shape. In 1951 Harry finally was able to present his first, with six instrumental sounds equipped musical instrument at the National Association of Music Merchants to the excited experts. Its realistic sounds and clean effects appealed so much to the audience that Chamberlin hardly could fend off the offers from prestigious organ manufacturers. Being suspicious of those brand leaders, he insisted on assembling his devices alone at home assisted only by his family members. Soon trouble arose when the ‘American Federation of Musicians’ tried to ban the device and its users, even threatening studios to shut them down if they tried to ‘displace other musicians’ with this type of instrument. But Harry kept his chin up. He improved the machines’ technology and built even bigger models with more sounds. Showing his enormous ingenuity, numerous Chamberlin patents were used e.g. by Mattel for a speaking doll and their innovative keyboards that scanned their sounds from pre-recorded optical discs by means of light. Unfortunately Harry’s inflexibility and the lack of distributors had the effect that only a relatively small number of his instruments could be sold. He did not even advertise as he only believed in word-of-mouth promotion.
The situation apparently improved in 1960 when Bill Fransen began acting as Chamberlin’s salesman. After only one year all of a sudden Fransen took two M 600 models (now rebadged to ‘Franson’) to England where he put an advert in a newspaper and found strong sponsors and the Bradley brothers as manufacturers for the upcoming ‘Mellotronproject’. Only the famous ‘3 Violins’ and the ‘Mandolin’ were taken over from Harry’s M 600 into the first MkI Tron that soon became the improved MkII. Ironically it was just the Tron’s hollow mystical sound (a result of too many tape copies) that made the race in the history of music. Up to now the full credit has sadly been denied to the original and its ingenious inventor. With our selection of Harry Chamberlin’s sounds we would like to honour this visionary and his pioneering work and offer you these clear samples for the Memotron which, being decades ahead of their time, can hardly be distinguished from real played instruments.