Roleystone musician Meg Travers builds own synthesiser


Roleystone musician Meg Travers with the trautonium she built as part of her research project into the instrument that was originally invented in Germany in 1929.
Roleystone musician Meg Travers with the trautonium she built as part of her research project into the instrument that was originally invented in Germany in 1929.

ROLEYSTONE musician Meg Travers has built a synthesiser similar to the electronic instruments that were used to make film soundtracks, including the bird noises in Alfred Hitchcock’s movie, The Birds.

Travers is a doctor of philosophy candidate at WAAPA and has decided to build her own synthesiser, called a trautonium.

She played it for the first time in public at the WA Museum last Friday.

“The trautonium was invented in Germany in 1929 and it was the first electronic instrument that could produce a wide variety of sounds,” she said.

“It was the forefather of today’s synthesisers.

“When it was invented the instrument was taken fairly seriously and concertos were written for it. Ultimately it found its main use in the creation of film soundtracks, most famously for the bird noises in Alfred Hitchcock’s movie, The Birds.”

She said the few remaining examples of the trautonium were preserved in museums in Germany, on display for people to view, but unavailable for musicians to perform the music written for the instrument.

“This built trautonium is the cornerstone of my research,” she said.

“I want to compare it to the original instruments in museums in Germany, to see if this modern version of the instrument would be able to be used in performing works for the trautonium.”

She said her trautonium was true to the past, but modern in construction.

“Learning how to play it has been challenging,” she said.

“There’s no one left in the world who knows who to play it, so I am listening to recordings and learning by watching videos.”