George Secor's Motorola ScalatronElectronic Music Education and Preservation Project
The time was the early 1970s when Herman Pedtke brought the idea of a microtonal electronic instrument to the folks at Motorola. The instrument was the Scalatron, a device that went far beyond the idea of a standard 12-note musical octave.
Scalatron with crystal jackfield and standardized keyboardElectronic Music Education and Preservation Project
THE NOTES BETWEEN THE BLACK AND WHITE KEYS
The Scalatron "played between the cracks" of the western scale and allowed the user instant recall of custom microtonal scales. The sound was generated by 240 onboard oscillators. The original units had dual black and white piano-style keys that limited access to notes within the more complex scales.
Rear of Scaltron generalized keyboardElectronic Music Education and Preservation Project
Ultimately, the Motorola Scalatron was able to create 1024 pitches per octave, as opposed to our standard black and white 12 notes. 19 custom scales could be stored and recalled at the push of a button.
Scalatron with crystal jackfield rearElectronic Music Education and Preservation Project
GEORGE SECOR AND THE SCALATRON
Microtonal composer, George Secor, suggested the inclusion of a Bosanquet Generalized keyboard that would improve access to substantially more notes within these scales. These unique keyboards consist of 240 colored keys. Secor also suggested synthesizer-based controls that would be a major step up from the home organ-style sounds of the original Scalatron.
Scalatron with crystal jackfield rear winkiesElectronic Music Education and Preservation Project
THE EMEAPP SCALATRONS
When George Secor passed away in March of 2020, he graciously left his prototype Scalatron to EMEAPP. In addition, he gifted us crates of his microtonal notes and research work for our archives. Visit www.emeapp.org for a feature article about George and his time at EMEAPP.
Scalatron with crystal jackfiled adjustment potsElectronic Music Education and Preservation Project
We encourage you to seek out microtonal recordings, a good place to begin might be with Wendy Carlos, Harry Partch or Ben Johnston. Thank you to the visionaries who created this microtonal beast!
Images and story by Drew Raison