It was invented by Constant Martin in 1947 in Versailles. It consists of a keyboard and a separate amplifier and speaker unit. The keyboard usually covered three octaves, and had a number of switches to alter the tone of the sound produced, add vibrato, and provide other effects. The Clavioline used a vacuum tube oscillator to produce a buzzy waveform, almost a square wave, which could then be altered using high-pass and low-pass filtering, as well as the vibrato. The amplifier also deliberately provided a large amount of distortion.
Several models were produced by different companies; among the more important were the Standard, Reverb, and Concert models by
- Reid, Gordon. “The Story of the Clavioline.” Sound on Sound (March 2007)
- Vox Electronic OrgansMusic Soul, .
- All About Electronic & Electric Musical Instruments.
- Interview with Charles Chilton on “Round Midnight”, BBC Radio 2, 1989.
- , Issue 5 ISSN: 1754-9892.Journal on the Art of Record ProductionCarlo Nardi (July 2011). "The Cultural Economy of Sound: Reinventing Technology in Indian Popular Cinema".
- Little Red Monkey (1953) by Frank Chacksfield’s Tunesmiths features Jack Jordan on clavioline.
- In 1953–54, Van Phillips composed music for the clavioline for the science-fiction radio trilogy Journey Into Space.
- In the Bollywood Hindi film Nagin (1954), Kalyanji Virji Shah plays the snake-charmer tune "Man dole mera, tan dole mere" on the clavioline, under the musical direction of Hemant Kumar.
- "Runaway" (1961) by Del Shannon features a bridge solo by Max Crook, performed on a heavily modified clavioline that he called the “Musitron”.
- The Joe Meek instrumental "Telstar" (1962) by The Tornados features the Univox Clavioline.
- The jazz albums The Magic City (1966) and The Heliocentric Worlds of Sun Ra, Volume Two (1966) by Sun Ra include clavioline
- Icky Thump (2007) by the White Stripes.
- Good morning (2012) by BAM
- John Lennon played the clavioline in the song Baby, You're a Rich Man, which appears on the Beatles album Magical Mystery Tour
The clavioline has been utilized on a number of recordings in popular music as well as in film. A selection follows.