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Optigan Site

Posted: Mon Jun 30, 2003 11:30 am
by Merlin

Welcome to the world of the OPTIGAN (NOT "Optigon," "Optagon" or "Octagon!")! In the early 70's, Mattel devised this OPTIcal orGAN to play back the sounds of REAL instruments, encoded on celluloid discs like concentric rings of movie soundtrack. The result was pretty crappy sounding and soon forgotten by the world at large, but if this sounds to you like perfect fodder for an obsessive, almost fetishistic website, then you're absolutely correct!

via Mefi

See also:
Sean on "Mimi":
Needless to say, the Optigan—one of the eeriest and most counterintuitive instruments ever invented—was the ideal tool. Never mind the fact that it was out of tune with itself, covered in dust, and about as rhythmically accurate as a one-legged tapdancer in a roomful of mousetraps. We had a notion that an Optigan could solve our problems, so Chris found a way to make the Optigan work, eventually constructing a rhythm track so creepy and beautiful that the song itself needed only to hang across it like skin on a skeleton.

Posted: Mon Jun 30, 2003 2:21 pm
by meg
Sweet link.

Posted: Fri Jul 04, 2003 4:43 am
by heather
for some reason, every time i look at this post i think 'optimus prime' instead of optigan.

Posted: Fri Jul 04, 2003 11:52 am
by John
You made me think of Artimus Pyle. Now what am I supposed to do?

Posted: Fri Jul 04, 2003 12:51 pm
by heather
Well, uh, hmm. Watch the Transformers movie. Yeah.

Posted: Sat Jul 05, 2003 11:18 am
by Forrest
God Bless MetaFilter. I *heart* Mathowie.

Posted: Sat Jul 05, 2003 12:33 pm
by Goldie
Lord how I love an Optigan. What lady wouldn't? You know, some of the later models have a discreet platic toggle that, when engaged, automatically writes a Beck song for you. Completely true!

And that thing about them being "crappy sounding" is meaningless. I mean, crappy compared to what? A pipe organ? An EchoPlex? A plywood ukulele? What?

But what I really covet is an Omnichord. (I know, different thing entirely, but since we're on the topic of fetishy music makers starting with "O"...)

Posted: Mon Jul 07, 2003 11:57 am
by Liesbeth
Goldie wrote:But what I really covet is an Omnichord. (I know, different thing entirely, but since we're on the topic of fetishy music makers starting with "O"...)

I have no idea what an Omnichord is [pray tell, what is an Omnicord, Goldie?] and my fave doesn't start with an O either, but I'll say my bit for Casio chords.
I wrote a wonderful song with the disco rhythm & chords on our wonderful cheap Casio keyboard. And then spent the next year trying to figure out how I could play anything as sexy on the piano. It doesn't help that I cannot play piano very well. But I since a few months I find comfort in the knowledge that John didn't when he started playing with Harvey Danger.
Or so he says.

Posted: Mon Jul 07, 2003 1:03 pm
by Goldie
Let's start with the case: Kidney-shaped, metallic silver, washable vinyl. Zipper closure. Adjustable strap. More awesome than your most awesome purse.

Okay, the Unit itself is essentially a wubby plastic Autoharp on batteries. Chord buttons just like an autoharp (your majors, minors, 7ths, maybe some demented chords), but with rhythm + tone options, too. Then, THEN! there's the Magic Super Strip that you run your finger up and down and it plays your twinkle-y chromatic scales. It crams a couple of octaves in a really tiny area, making it crazy hard to find actual notes.

It's the sound of the Future! (by which I mean the Eighties).

Posted: Mon Jul 07, 2003 3:30 pm
by omphale
Ooooooh! Magic Super Strip!!! Gimme summa that action!

But seriously, I too covet the omnichord, despite the fact that it's french horn sounds absolutely nothing like an actual french horn (a fact that would normally send me into a spluttering 30 minute tantrum, but for reasons unknown to me I somehow forgive the omnichord)

I have never had the pleasure of meeting an octagan, but it looks pretty neat-o.