Michael Murphy Vists the National Music Centre

Michael Murphy recently traveled to the National Music Centre in Calgary, Alberta, as part of his research on Frank Morse Robb and the Robb Wave Organ. Beginning his business in 1927, Robb is today known as the inventor of the world’s first electronic organ. Among the 15-16 organs Robb produced over the course of 12 years, The National Music Centre is thought to have the only surviving electronic organ he produced.

The National Music Centre has posted a brief interview with Murphy outlining some of the background behind Robb’s electronic organ. You can learn more about Murphy’s research here.

Michael Murphy Shines the Spotlight on Canadian Inventor Frank Morse Robb, Inventor of the First Electronic Organ

In his latest research pursuit, AccessFabrik Lab principal investigator Michael Murphy is looking to shine the spotlight on the origins of audio sampling and the Canadian who developed the ingenious process later this year.

Frank Morse Robb (1902 – 1992), born in Belleville Ontario, is thought to be the true inventor of the first electronic organ. The original “Robb Wave Organ” marked the beginning of Robb’s organ business in 1927, though the only known surviving instrument was built in 1936. Robb’s business received little funding, likely due to his focus on the Canadian market, and ultimately went under in 1939 with as few as 15-16 organs produced.

Robb’s authentic-sounding electronic organs, while revolutionary for the time, were out-shined by the commercially successful American Hammond Organ, and have since received little discussion in academia.

Murphy, alongside research assistant Eric Kupp, will be publishing a paper on Robb’s work and career. The paper will be coupled with open-source software that allows Robb Wave Organ samples to be played back through a MIDI interface.

The pair traveled to Calgary in mid-July to inspect and document Robb’s last surviving organ, the first of its kind to play sampled tones from a pipe organ. Robb’s sampling process involved playing organ pipes through an oscilloscope and photographing the resulting waveforms. The waveforms were then carved onto metal tone wheels, which rotated inside the electronic organ while keys were pressed. While the tone wheels rotated, their carvings would regulate the voltage of the instrument’s internal pickups, generating a convincing organ sound.

Murphy and Kupp managed to find electrical schematics of the last-surviving Robb Wave Organ, and are interested in returning to Calgary in the near future to repair the device. They have currently sampled two of the instrument’s “voices,” but by restoring the device they will be able to record as many as 20 of which were originally available.

Murphy and Kupp’s primary goals are to draw attention to Robb’s innovations and cultivate discussion about this significant period in Canadian history. Their findings will be published alongside the Robb Wave Organ MIDI software this December.

Michael Murphy Publishes Chapter on History of the Web

Michael J. Murphy AccessFabrik Lab principal investigator Michael J. Murphy, along with his Dublin-based colleague Brian O’Neill, have recently published a book chapter inside the latest volume of Histories of Public Service Broadcasters on the Web by Maureen Burns and Niels Brügger. The book looks at the intricate involvement of national public service broadcasters in the development of the World Wide Web, and addresses many of the issues these organizations have faced.

The chapter is entitled Canadian Content, Public Broadcasting and the Internet: CBC’s Online Strategy 1995-2000, and “looks at CBC online innovation from 1995 to 2000, when despite major cutbacks in its own funding and radical changes in the structure of the Canadian Broadcast industry, the CBC determined that converged, multi-platform content provision was the best strategy for its long-term survival.”

The book can be ordered online at peterlang.com.

AccessFabrik Lab Attends IBC 2011 in Amsterdam

AF Lab at IBC 2011

The AccessFabrik Lab team recently traveled to Amsterdam to attend IBC 2011 from September 8 – 13, the leading tradeshow for professionals working in the media and broadcasting industries. The lab represented Ryerson University, demoing our Flash Media IP-Based Video Switcher and New Tools for Collaborative Media Production. The work presented at IBC was exhibited to industry professionals and experts with the hopes to network and grow our current research potential.

IBC 2011 had a record breaking attendance of 50,462 this year and continues to draw a diverse crowd of spectators and exhibitors from over 160 countries. Over the the course of the week, IBC hosted live demos, onsite certified training, movie presentations and much more to showcase the best of the best in media production and technology.

The show was a great space to showcase Ryerson’s excellence as an innovator within the media production industry. The AccessFabrik Lab team is eager to see how the relationships established at the show will enhance existing projects, as well as enable opportunities for future research endeavours.

AccessFabrik Lab Attends NAB 2011

The team at Ryerson's booth at NAB 2011. From left to right: Shabnam Shahin, Konstantino Kapetaneas, Michael Murphy, Michael Dick, Brian Lesser, and Arianne de Guzman.

The AccessFabrik Lab team recently traveled to Las Vegas to attend the NAB Show from April 11th – 14th. Joining the team were Ryerson representatives from the Centre for Learning Technologies, Open Mobile DTV, and the Global Campus Network project. Our projects were exhibited on the show floor to industry leaders, researchers, practitioners, and hobbyists in the broadcasting and media industries looking to create interest and seek potential future collaborations.

The NAB Show is a gathering of media and entertainment professionals, with over 90,000 attendees this year. The show’s theme focuses on methods of content creation and making that content available to a wide audience on multiple platforms.

The lab presented our New Tools for Collaborative Media Production, as well as our newest project, the Flash Media IP Based Video Switcher. The video switcher was a collaborative pursuit between AF Lab’s Principal Investigator Michael Murphy, Brain Lesser and Arianne de Guzman from CCS, and Uwe Shulz from Hochschule der Medien in Stuttgart, Germany.

The lab is looking forward to pursuing the connections that were made at the show with the hope of establishing partners for future projects.

More information about Ryerson’s projects exhibited at the show can be found here. The posters that were featured at the show can be seen below.

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