A couple of days ago, we posted a freakishly weird talking guitar video from 1962, because it demonstrated how guitarists were making vocoder-like talkbox sounds a long time before they had a mainstream electronic music context.
Electronic music artist Richard Lainhart left a comment on that video, noting that Alvino Rey was doing crazy talkbox stuff back in 1939 – in a big band context. That’s thirty+ years before vocoder and talkbox effects were common in pop music and sixty years before Daft Punk.
According to Big Band Library, “When Rey formed his own band in August 1939, his amplified pedal steel guitar was his featured instrument, and an off-stage vocal microphone plugged into it with a Sonovox made it seem as though the guitar could ‘talk’.”
Vocoder-like effects have a long history, and Alvino Rey’s take on the St Louis Blues, while dated, is still pretty awesome.
If you’ve got any more info on this signal flow, leave a note in the comments.