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Mid-1970s Stylophone being played

The Stylophone is a miniature analog stylus-operated keyboard. Invented in 1967 by Brian Jarvis,[1] it entered production in 1968, manufactured by Dubreq. It consists of a metal keyboard made of printed circuit board and played by touching it with a stylus—each note being connected to a voltage-controlled oscillator via a different-value resistor—thus closing a circuit. The only other controls were a power switch and a vibrato control on the front panel beside the keyboard, and a tuning potentiometer on the rear. Some three million Stylophones were sold, mostly as children's toys, but were occasionally used by professional musicians as Rolf Harris and David Bowie.

The Stylophone was available in three variants: standard, bass, and treble, the standard one being by far the most common. There was also a larger version called the 350S with more notes on the keyboard, various voices, a novel 'wah-wah' effect that was controlled by moving one's hand over a photo-sensor, and two styluses.

In the mid-1970s a new model appeared which featured pseudo-wood on the speaker panel and a volume control. This was shortly before the Stylophone ceased production altogether in 1975.

The entertainer Rolf Harris appeared for several years as the Stylophone's advertising spokesman in the United Kingdom, and appeared on many "play-along" records sold by the manufacturer.[2]

2007 revivalEdit

 
2007 relaunch Stylophone from Re:creation

In October 2007, 28 years after the Stylophone went out of production, toy company Re:creation, in conjunction with Dubreq Ltd (re-formed in 2003 by Ben Jarvis, the son of the original inventor), re-launched the Stylophone, having it manufactured in China. The new model, officially called the S1, is a digital copy that closely resembles the 1960s original but has a volume control and features an audio throughput function, as well as sporting two new sounds.[3]


Stylophone S2Edit

In December 2012, Dubreq released the Series 2 Stylophone, a British made, true full spec analogue synth.[4]

Stylophone Gen X-1Edit

In January 2017, Dubreq released details of the Stylophone Gen X-1 portable analogue synthesizer.[5] It was designed and manufactured by Dubreq [6] and retails at £59.99.


In popular cultureEdit

  • David Bowie is credited with playing the Stylophone on his 1969 debut hit song "Space Oddity" and also for his 2002 album Heathen track titled "Slip Away,"[7] as well as on the song "Heathen (The Rays)".
  • Tony Visconti played Stylophone on the Sparks 1975 album Indiscreet, and on Richard Barone's 2010 album Glow.
  • Kraftwerk's 1981 song "Pocket Calculator" uses the Stylophone. It is one of the main instruments on this track and a 'Stylophone solo' ends the song.[citation needed]
  • The 1999 track "Style" (and its several other versions) by Orbital takes its name from Stylophone, which is used extensively on the track.[8]
  • American alternative rock group They Might Be Giants made use of the Stylophone on their 2007 album The Else.
  • BBC film critic Mark Kermode played a Stylophone on the 8 January 2010 instalment of his and Simon Mayo's film review programme. Kermode described recently learning how to play the instrument.[9]
  • On the 5 March 2010 edition of his Kermode Uncut vodcast, Mark Kermode played a rendition of Richard Strauss' Sunrise on the Stylophone in homage to Duncan Jones' film Moon.[10]
  • Richard Barone uses the Stylophone on numerous recordings, including "Glow" and '"Girl" on his 2010 album Glow. On the latter song it is played by his producer Tony Visconti.
  • The Stylophone is used as a main instrument by Russian rock group Gromyka.[11]
  • British band Pulp use the Stylophone prominently in their song "Styloroc (Nites of Suburbia)", which appears on their 1992 Babies single and 1993 compilation album Intro – The Gift Recordings.[12]
  • British YouTuber and BBC radio presenter Daniel Howell is known for playing the Stylophone.
  • British comedian Brett Domino is a well known user of the Stylophone, featuring it in many of his YouTube videos.
  • Electronic musician Moiré features Stylophone in many of his tracks.[13]
  • The 2017 film Baby Driver features the Stylophone.[14]
  • British electropop artist Little Boots uses the Stylophone extensively.
  • As part of the promotion of his album EUSA, french pianist and composer Yann Tiersen organized a contest to find the best and most interesting interpretations of tracks from the album. Mari Dangerfield's Stylophone cover of "Porz Goret" won the first prize in the non-piano category.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ David McNamee. "Hey, what's that sound: Stylophone | Music". Theguardian.com. Retrieved 4 June 2015.
  2. ^ Michael Johnson. "Do you remember Stylophone?". doyouremember.co.uk. Retrieved 4 March 2017.
  3. ^ Elliott, Amy-Mae (14 September 2007). ""Iconic" Seventies Stylophone to be revived by HMV". Pocket-Lint Ltd. Retrieved 10 April 2008.
  4. ^ "Dubreq Stylophone S2". Stylophone2.com. 28 January 2013. Retrieved 4 June 2015.
  5. ^ "Dubreq Stylophone Gen X-1". Mi-pro.co.uk. 9 January 2017. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
  6. ^ "Stylophone GEN-X1 – Dubreq". dubreq.com. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  7. ^ "Dubreq Stylophone Gen X-1". Mi-pro.co.uk. 9 January 2017. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
  8. ^ "The single and the instrument described by Loopz, the official Orbital fanzine".
  9. ^ "BBC Radio 5 live - Kermode and Mayo's Film Review, 08/01/2010". Bbc.co.uk. 8 January 2010. Retrieved 4 June 2015.
  10. ^ [1] Archived 9 March 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ "ГРОМЫКА - "Говорил я вам"/ GROMYKA - "As I Said Unto You"". YouTube.com. 5 November 2015. Retrieved 12 April 2016.
  12. ^ "Pulp - Styloroc (Nites of Suburbia)". YouTube.com. 28 April 2009. Retrieved 13 July 2016.
  13. ^ "Attack Magazine: My Studio Moiré".
  14. ^ "Stylophone Baby DriverAttack".