Stylophone

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The stylophone is a small electronic keyboard instrument. It consists of a metal keyboard played by touching it with a stylus, which completes a circuit and produces sound. It is known for its unique sound and is often used for playful and experimental music.
History of the Stylophone
Unlike many instruments on instrumentsofmusic.com, the stylophone has a traceable inventor in Brian Jarvis of Dubreq Studios. According to legend, Jarvis was repairing a toy piano for his niece when the idea dawned on him to replace the keys with a monophonic transmitter and a printer circuit board. The player would use a stylus to move up and down the notes. The invention was originally intended as a toy but its sound caught the attention of popular music artists like John Lennon and David Bowie. The unique electronic tone of the stylophone was featured for the first time on a popular music recording of British musician David Bowie’s single ‘Space Oddity’. The success of this early Bowie song and other early adopters of the stylophone, catapulted the instrument into widespread popular demand. Millions were reportedly sold during the late 1960s and 70s before the instrument peaked and ceased production in 1975. The stylophone experienced a renaissance in the early 21st century among other vintage music technology that would see new models such as the stylophone Gen X-1 and a Bowie limited edition stylophone released.
Inventor: Brian Jarvis

Where to Buy

$30 - $100

Hear the Stylophone

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How to Play

A small electronic keyboard instrument that is played using a metal stylus. The stylus is used to touch metal keys on the instrument, creating a sound.

In Popular Music

The stylophone was used to create some of the sci-fi, electronic sounds of David Bowie’s 1960s song ‘Space Oddity’. It has also been used by artists such as Manic Street Preachers and Kraftwerk. Pulp used the stylophone on their song ‘Styloroc’ from 1993.

Famous Players

Rolf Harris, David Bowie, Paddy Kingsland

Close Relations

Pocket Piano, Synthesizer
Video Credit: maromaro1337
Understanding the Stylophone
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Small

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UK

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1968

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Keyboard

Family

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