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Jack Hertz

Topic: Zero Time by Tonto's Expanding Head Band

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Tonto's Expanding Head Band was a British-American electronic music duo consisting of Malcolm Cecil and Robert Margouleff. Despite releasing only two albums in the early 1970s, the duo were (and still remain) influential because of their session and production work for other musicians (most notably Stevie Wonder), extensive commercial advertising work and the unique warmth and personality of their work.

TONTO is an acronym for "The Original New Timbral Orchestra", the first, and still the largest, multitimbral polyphonic analog synthesizer in the world, designed and constructed over several years by Malcolm Cecil. TONTO started as a Moog modular synthesizer Series III owned by record producer Robert Margouleff. Later a second Moog III was added, then four Oberheim SEMs, two ARP 2600s, modules from Serge with Moog-like panels, EMS, Roland, Yamaha, etc. plus several custom modules designed by Serge Tcherepnin and Cecil himself - who has an electrical engineering background. Later, digital sound-generation circuitry and a collection of sequencers were added, along with MIDI control. All of this is housed in an instantly-recognizable semi-circle of huge curving wooden cabinets, twenty feet in diameter and six feet tall.

TONTO was featured (as the "electronic room") in the 1974 Brian de Palma film Phantom of the Paradise. It was also used in the album 1980 by Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson and was pictured on both the front and back covers of this album.

TONTO was owned by Malcolm Cecil since he acquired Robert Margouleff's share in 1975. In the mid-1990s TONTO was moved to Mutato Muzika studios, the headquarters of Mark Mothersbaugh and Devo, leading to widespread rumors that Mothersbaugh had purchased TONTO but this was not true. TONTO eventually made its way back to Cecil's home in Saugerties, NY. In late 2013 TONTO was purchased by the National Music Centre in Calgary, AB.[7][8] The NMC had long desired to acquire TONTO and upon moving it to Calgary, placed it on exhibit.

"I wanted to create an instrument that would be the first multitimbral polyphonic synthesizer. Multitimbral polyphony is different than the type of polyphony provided by most of today's synthesizers, on which you turn to a string patch and everything under your fingers is strings. In my book 'multitimbral' means each note you play has a different tone quality, as if the notes come from separate instruments. I wanted to be able to play live multitimbral polyphonic music using as many fingers and feet as I had."

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