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Mellodrama, the Mellotron Story explores the rising and falling fortunes of the Mellotron and the Chamberlin — the first musical keyboards to “sample” the sounds of other instruments. The story swings though 1960s London, the epic pomp of 1970s progressive rockers, and the keyboards’ use in 1990s and 2000s by artists like Radiohead and Kanye West. The Mellotron freed pop music, enabling the orchestra-in-a-box sound of progressive rock bands like Yes, King Crimson, and Genesis. Nearly forgotten during the 1980s, the Mellotron is today again a highly desired and sought-after device.
Mellodrama is based on hundreds of original interviews with members of the Chamberlin family, the studio musicians who played on the tapes, the artists most closely associated with Chamberlins and Mellotrons, the producers and engineers who tapped the secrets of the machines, and the engineers who continue to produce and keep analog sampling alive in the 21st century.
Dianna Dilworth is a Brooklyn-based filmmaker and journalist covering technology, books, and culture. She is editor of Mediabistro's eBookNewser, and contributes to GalleyCat, the Believer, Businessweek, Dwell, PRWeek, and Architectural Record. She directed the feature documentaries Mellodrama: the Mellotron Movie (2010) and the award-winning We Are The Children: Michael Jackson Fans and the 2005 Trial (2007).