Talk box & Vocoder

When teaching composers about voice, giving a class on the talk box & the vocoder is a great complement. Here are a couple of notes I took to prepare the class I'm giving tomorrow.

Talk box

The talk box is mostly known as an effect enabling to apply vocalic sound colors to guitar sounds. My teaching material includes:

  • a copy of the original patent for an electronic voice box apparatus, designed to be used as an artificial larynx.
  • a video of Peter Frampton performing with guitar & talk box (the device is used from around 5:40 in the video):
  • a picture of Peter Frampton's talk box, by Carl Lender:
Talk Box
  • drawings on the blackboard, to remind students about formants, resonances of the vocal track, voiced and un-voiced sounds, vocal folds, guitar strings, and more.


Going from the talk box to the vocoder, it's going from real-world formants to modeled ones, where the resonances are not made by a human's vocal tract, but thanks to electronic resonator circuits. The Moog vocoder is perfect as a teaching support. My sources include:


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