Japanese composer and performer Takashi Harada is a prolific exponent of all things Ondes Martenot, with more than two hundred premieres to his credit. He has nearly single-handedly revived public interest in the Ondes for his generation, with numerous commissions attesting to his virtuosic command of the instrument. As a child, Harada began violin studies at age three and piano at seven. With a brief stopover for an Economics degree from Keio Gijuku University, he went on to study Ondes Martenot with Jeanne Loriod and piano with Kieko Toyama, and was awarded first prize upon his graduation in 1982 from the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Paris. Harada has appeared regularly as a soloist with major symphony orchestras throughout the world. He has been recognized by the Global Music Award, Idemitsu Award, Hida-Furukawa Music Award, Yokohama Culture Award, and Diapason dOr for his recording of Messiaens Turangalîla-Symphonie. His wide-ranging work includes soundtracks for the films Rising Sun (directed by Philip Kaufman, music by Toru Takemitsu), D-zaka no Stsujin Jiken (directed by Ako Jissoji, music by Shin-ichiro Ikebe), and Snake Eyes (directed by Brian de Palma, music by Ryuichi Sakamoto). He also performed for the Tokyo Ballets production Mthe life of Yukio Mishima (choreography by Maurice Béjart, music by Toshiro Mayuzumi). Harada has composed and performed extensively for rock, jazz, and improvisational ensembles as well, and has released recordings on the Victor, Fontec, and Decca labels. His most recent compositions include Twilight, the Floating Light for Ondes and Orchestra, and symphonic scenes for the Japanese animated film A Tree of Palme.
The Ondes Martenot. Invented in Paris in 1928 by Maurice Martenot, the Ondes Martenot (sometimes called the "ondes musicales") is a significant early monophonic (i.e. music with a single melodic line of notes without harmonies) electronic instrument. It operates on the same basic principle as the theremin, but uses a seven-octave keyboard for performance. Two oscillators, one producing a fixed frequency and the other a variable one, are used to produce a single tone, in an effect called "heterodyning." The two oscillators are used in conjunction with one another that results in a frequency that is either the difference between them or the sum of both. The pitch is not directly generated, in other words. The keyboard, performed with the right hand, is used to control the frequency of the variable oscillator. The left hand is used to operate a key that controls dynamics, attack, and timbre. There is also a knee lever that the performer can use in place of the left hand, allowing it to join the right hand on the keyboard. Groves Dictionary of Music and Musicians calls the Ondes "one of the most successful electronic musical instruments developed before the synthesizer."