February 01, 2005


As many of you know, I've been sitting in on Knox's Music Theory class this term. I've wanted to take a music theory class at least since I was at Quincy, but various other things just kept getting in the way. It's a lot of fun, and I feel like I haven't let my brain expand so much in a new direction in a really long time.

But as much as I can do in my head and with humming intervals and such, occasionally I just need to hear a chord or something that I need an instrument for. Fortunately, I had long ago rescued a childhood toy from being thrown out; it was already old when I started playing with it well over twenty years ago. It's a little brown two-octave organ, with six builtin chords. You turn it on with an on/off knob on the side, wait for about thirty seconds for the tubes to warm up (!), and then you can play up to about three notes at a time. No volume control of any sort, of course. Here it is:

[my old brown organ]

Last Saturday I finally got around to walking to the music store two blocks away, and I looked at keyboards. Some of them were crazy expensive (like $2K expensive), and to be honest, I couldn't tell what made them different from keyboards a tenth the price, except for the expensive ones having poorer user interface design.

I mostly narrowed it down on Saturday, then thought about it for the next few days. And today, I picked up a keyboard that my keen sense of irony forces me to name "Parvus":

[my sleek new keyboard]

It has some wild features. Aside from lots of instruments, something I expected and didn't really care about, it has a lot of built-in rhythms as well (including a number of ballroom-appropriate ones, though that part's really more fun than useful). But tied into the rhythms is an auto-accompaniment feature: play a key in the bottom octave, and it will set the key for the accompaniment! Give it a minor third and/or a diminished or augmented fifth, and it'll fill in that chord too! Plus, of course, you can record a bunch of tracks and play them on top of each other, making it possible for a plunker like me to actually work out how part-writing will sound.


"Intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character--that is the goal of true education. The complete education gives one not only power of concentration, but worthy objectives upon which to concentrate." --Martin Luther King, Jr.

Posted by blahedo at 11:44pm on 1 Feb 2005
Ohmygod! I had that exact same organ as a kid! Posted by yukino at 1:20am on 2 Feb 2005
Good gravy! What did you do with the organ? That thing is SWEET. How much was the keyboard you got? I've considered getting one for quite some time now but never really bothered.. Posted by Aaron at 8:07am on 2 Feb 2005
I love that little organ. I had one just like it as a child, though when Igot mine it was new. God, I feel old at times. :) Posted by Vernon at 8:16am on 2 Feb 2005
I find it amusing that Nutmeg is in the same place in both pictures. Posted by kelly at 10:06pm on 2 Feb 2005
Actually, that magnus organ doesn't have tubes, nor does it have a speaker. It's actually electromechanical, not electronic. It has reeds inside, and an electrical motor that drives a fan/compressor... basically, it's an automatic accordian. =] Posted by Overand at 1:13am on 26 Oct 2006
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