Sampling the Hammond Novachord

Steve Howell, the sound library developer knows as Hollow Sun, is working on a very interesting new project: a “new library of the amazing (and incredibly rare) Hammond Novachord, a polyphonic analogue synthesizer released – can you believe – in 1939!!”, in collaboration with Dan Wilson of Hideaway Studios in Bath, England.

In Steve’s words: “this phenomenal instrument was many decades ahead of its time with divide down oscillators and separate envelopes and LFOs for each note offering full and true 72-voice polyphony 35 years before the ARP OMNI and Polymoog and the 5- and 8-voice polysynths of the 70s. Even now, some modern polysynths would blush with embarrassment at such a voice count!


Dan has been busy renovating his instrument and has already put in many hours. However, Dan is going the extra mile and not replacing ailing components with modern equivalents (which would be the easy way out) because this could compromise and affect the original instrument’s haunting sound. Instead, he is painstakingly re-building components himself where necessary…
…Work has begun on this and tentative sampling sessions are beginning to reveal what lies ahead of us – textures that would not be out of place on a modern synth 70 years on in 2009 but with a strangely ‘earthy’ and ‘organic’ quality quite unlike I’ve heard before, full of flawed nuances and subtelty. The Novachord doesn’t generate sounds … it breathes them in gasps and grunts and squeals and whispers!”.

The pictures and the description have put the Novachord library on my “must keep an eye on this” list. What about you?

Thanks to Failed Muso’s blog for spreading the word about this…

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