This enjoyably quirky documentary tells the tale of Thaddeus Cahill’s Telharmonium, the monstrous forerunner of the analog synthesizer, making music before even the age of popular radio –

The Telharmonium was a 200-ton behemoth that created numerous musical timbres and could flood many rooms with sound.

Beginning with the first instrument, constructed in the 1890’s, and continuing with the installation of the second instrument at Telharmonic Hall in New York, the rise and fall of commercial service, the attempted comeback of the third Telharmonium, and ending with efforts to find a home for the only surviving instrument in 1951, this documentary provides a definitive account of the first comprehensive music synthesizer.

It’s a shame the video compression is so heavy on this one – though it might be oddly appropriate given the instrument’s own technical challenges. Keep in the mind that the accompanying soundtrack is not actually a Telharmonium. Unfortunately no recordings exist of the instrument, though those who did hear it note the clarity of its sinewave voice. [via Oddstrument]

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