Friday, March 05, 2010

OK Go - video for song 'This Too Shall Pass'

I am sure this video by the band OK GO has been around the internet a lot lately. I don't care! It's too cool to miss.

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Friday, February 12, 2010

Pat Metheny's Orchestrion album and tour

From the YouTube description:

LEMUR: League of Electronic Musical Urban Robots is proud to announce that over 40 of its robotic musical instruments are featured on Pat Metheny's Orchestrion album and tour. This is the culmination of a collaboration between LEMUR, a group of artists who create robotic musical instruments, and the 17-time Grammy winning guitarist.

LEMUR produced an orchestra of instruments for Metheny, including GuitarBots (LEMUR's specially-invented robotic slide guitars), mallet instruments (marimba, vibes and bells comprising over 100 beaters) and a large array of drums and percussion.

Like LEMUR's previously created instruments, these are computer-controlled mechanized acoustic musical instruments which can perform music by and with human musicians. LEMUR's instruments, augmented with instruments by other roboticists, comprise the Orchestrion, a robotic orchestra entirely under Metheny's compositional and improvisational control.

[ Thanks Art! ]

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Friday, January 29, 2010

Push-powered wooden musical automaton

I don't exactly have the words for this incredible creation since I've never seen anything quite like it. It's a wooden cart that -- when pushed -- plays a tune, a drum, and animates a human figure on the front. Another wonder from the mind of Osamu Kanda!

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Friday, January 08, 2010

Video explanation - how a singing bird clock works

Justin Miller over at has made a nice video in which he describes how a singing bird clock works. It's a really cool mechanism to see and a clear, concise description of how it works. Thanks Justin!

Here is a link where you can learn more about this singing bird clock.

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Thursday, January 07, 2010

Automata Orchestra in Malmo Sweden

Automata Orchestra in Malmo Sweden
Reader Jerry Johansson wrote to ask about this amazing automata orchestra that is currently on display at the Technical and Maritime Museum in Malmo, Sweden.

Jerry writes:
Little is known about the orchestra but it's said to be constructed in England sometime during the 1920s. A well known Swedish toy expert came to the conclusion that the orchestra must have been serial made, but due to the size (it is life size) of the orchestra, and the rather complicated machinery, I don't find that statement plausible. I was wondering if you might have any information regarding robotic orchestras, or indeed any robotics manufactured in England during this time period?

For so little to be known about such a large and complicated system does seem a strange mystery. If you happen to know anything about this or similar automata bands, leave a comment at the end of this post.

Here's a link to a video featuring the Automata Orchestra.

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Silver plated singing bird box by Griesbaum

Silver Plated singing bird box by Griesbaum
Here is a nice miniature singing bird box for sale on eBay.

From the eBay listing:

The case is completely decorated with flower arrangements and birds in art nouveau style. By moving the bird shaped button, the lid will jump open and a little bird will appear. It will turn from left to right moving its beak and wings and sing a song with a loud and strong voice. After it is finished it will return into the box and the lid will automatically close again. This is a great collectors piece of high quality. Made around 1950 in Germany by Griesbaum. I have had the complete movement cleaned and a new bellow fitted so it is again in perfect working order. The silver plated case measures 10 x 6,5 x 4 cm ( 3.8 x 2.5 x 1.6 inch)

Here's the full listing for this Singing bird box by Griesbaum

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Mechanical cigarette dispenser music box

Take a look at this charming mechanical cigarette dispenser music box...

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Place de la Musique - home of mechanical marvels

Check out this news story about a massive collection of music machines, arcade games, and other mechanical marvels.

From The Sanfilippo Foundation web site:
The Sanfilippo "Place de la Musique" is known worldwide for its magnificent collections of beautifully restored antique music machines, phonographs, arcade and gambling machines, chandeliers, art glass, the world's largest restored theatre pipe organ, the most spectacular European salon carousel in existence, street and tower clocks, steam engines and other functional mechanical antiques, displayed within a breathtaking French Second Empire setting.

Learn more at The Sanfilippo Foundation web site.

[ Thanks Joe! ]

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

"The Pasha" automaton by Anatoly ZAYA-RUZO

The Pasha automaton by Anatoly ZAYA-RUZO
Here is the latest automaton creation from Anatoly Zaya-Ruzo.

From the artist's description:
"The Pasha" is a classical automaton 32" x 12" x 24"(H) with 12 movements and 72-note music mechanism playing three tunes. The action is operated by specially designed heavy duty winding motor with 50 lb-in torque. The Pasha makes his magic by transforming the girl from one tent to another. There are 5 characters in this scene.

More about this automata (including video) will soon be posted on Anatoly's web site

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Marble music: Quadrilla Music Melody Composer

Quadrilla is a marble-track building system. The new addition to the line is the Quadrilla Music Melody Composer, which incorporates xylophone-like tone blocks into the marble track. As the marbles roll down the track and hit the xylophone bars, a little tune results. This set includes 50 building pieces, 20 marbles, and an instruction book with 14 construction examples.

Here is where you can get the Quadrilla Music Melody Composer Quadrilla Melody Basic Set.

Here is a variety of Quadrilla mable run setsif you want to incorporate the Music module into a larger marble run.

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Wooden music box + ball track + automaton

Check out Osamu Kanda's excellent hand-cranked mechanical metallophone with integrated rolling ball track and animated marionette figure. This man has some wildly creative ideas and the skills to bring them to life!

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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Zilotone musical automaton wind-up toy

Zilotone musical automaton wind-up toy
Here's a tin-toy musician capable of playing three differrent songs. The actions required for the figure to play each song are "recorded" on interchangeable cams (seen behind the figure's feet). Very cool!

From the eBay description:
Even non-collectors find this an enchanting piece. The Zilotone, made by the Wolverine Supply & Manufacturing Co of Pennsylvania, circa 1930, features a little man playing a xylophone. A metal song disc is inserted in the toy, and the clockwork is wound up. When switched on, the musician moves back and forth, hitting the keys with a mallet. Comes with 3 different discs: Yankee Doodle, My Old Kentucky Home, and The Farmer in the Dell. Measures approximately 10" x 8 "x 7", sturdy pressed-steel construction.

Here's the eBay listing for Wolverine Zilotone musical automaton wind-up toy

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Monday, August 10, 2009

German-made 2 bird singing bird automaton

German-made 2 bird singing bird automaton
Here is a vintage 2-bird singing bird automaton made in Germany.

From the eBay description:
It stands approx 10" tall and the base is 6" across....When wound the birds move as they should (1 moves up and down, moves his tail and his beak moves, the others tail and beak moves)....HOWEVER they are not chirping....I understand that the bellows will need replaced and from research its a fairly easy task if you know what you are doing but I dont !...........Other than no chirping it is in very nice condition...Has a 3 position switch on the bottom as shown.

Here the eBay listing for this German-made 2 bird singing bird automaton

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Friday, July 31, 2009

Roullet & Decamps rabbit with maracas automaton

Roullet & Decamps rabbit with maracas automaton
There is something charming in a mechanical rabbit automaton playing the Maracas. This one was made in France circa 1910 the by the famous French manufacturers ROULLET & DECAMPS .

From the eBay description:
When wound, the rabbit hops up and down as he shakes the maracas and his ears go up and down. He is covered with real rabbit fur and has glass eyes. His maracas are replacements that are made of hard plastic just like the original ones were, but they have been painted to simulate the originals (the one original maraca that still remains is included in the auction but is no longer attached to the toy, as you can see it is laying next to the rabbit in the last two photos). Though the replacement maracas are not original to the toy, they do make noise just like the original maracas would have and are just slightly smaller than the originals. The rabbit's fur is quite dingy from age and has been patched up here and there, but he still looks pretty good and is very amusing to watch! The rabbit measures just over 10" tall to the top of his head (ears laying out flat), and his ears are over 4" long!

Here is the full eBay listing with a ton of photos of this Roullet & Decamps rabbit with maracas automaton.

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Vintage clockwork clown musician automaton

Vintage clockwork clown musician automaton
Currently on eBay, here is a vintage clockwork clown automaton, measuring approximately 15" tall overall from the base to the spinning top on his nose.

From the eBay listing:
When wound, the clown moves the violin bow back and forth across the violin as if playing it, the clockwork makes a Plink-Plink music noise from beneath the base, and the tin top balancing on the clown's nose spins around! There is a bit of staining on the base and a few chips of paint are missing here and there on the base, the clown's shoes, and the top, but overall the toy is in excellent condition!

Here is the full eBay listing with many additional photographs of this vintage clockwork clown musician automaton

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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Antique Jumeau piano-player automaton

Antique Jumeau piano-player automaton
In an effort to show some of the classics on a regular basis, here is a vintage Jumeau automaton depicting an girl playing the piano.

From the eBay listing:
The automaton encompasses an EXQUISITE toy piano measuring 14 1/2" high, 6 1/2" deep and 14" wide, with an antique Jumeau head doll measuring 20" tall standing in front, making the total depth of the automaton about 14" from the back of the piano to the back of the doll.

The piano is made of ebony and walnut veneer wood with original fancy BRONZE side handles and two elaborate three-armed CANDELABRAS in the front, with IVORY KEYS and original music holder with antique French lithograph SHEET MUSIC! Unlike most stamped Jumeau heads that were used for automatons, this one is a size 6 RARE INCISED DEPOSE bisque head with red artist's marks! She has her original long brown MOHAIR WIG and CORK PATE, brown PAPERWEIGHT EYES, and STUNNING painted facial features and modeling! We did not want to compromise her originality by removing her original wig and pate as they are still attached firmly to her, but from well lighting and scrutinizing the outside of the bisque it appears to have no hairlines, chips, cracks or restorations!

She wears FACTORY ORIGINAL clothes including a cotton red jacket and matching skirt embellished with fancy black SOUTACHE trim, original white ORGANDY jacket collar and undergarments with pleated under slip and matching pantaloons, both trimmed in identical lace! Antique JET GLASS doll earrings, antique dark brown leather shoes with silver buckles and antique black cotton socks, and an original black satin JUMEAU hat with silver BEE INSIGNIA and red plumage complete her overall ORIGINAL FABULOUS presentation!

The automaton has FOUR melodies including the famous French tune "La Toreador" from the opera "Carmen", and FOUR distinct movements including PAPER MACHE hands that move up and down on the piano, and sideways, simulating "playing" of the ivory and ebony keys, as she "glances" moving her head from side to side and then up and down, as if nodding her head to the beat of the music! When the original key is wound and the knob is pulled out on the side of the piano, the entertainment begins as this lovely little girl gives her MELODIOUS CONCERT!

All movements are in good working condition and the tunes are consistent except for times where there is a fading in and out of the music, but overall still PLAYING BEAUTIFULLY!

Here is the full listing with many additional photographs of this antique Jumeau piano player automaton

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Friday, May 22, 2009

German whistling figure carved wood automaton

German whistling figure carved wood automaton
Here is an old German whistler figure. The carved wood automaton dates to the early 20th century and measures about 18 1/2" high.

While this particular one isn't fully operational at the moment, the eBay listing features many great photographs of the mechanism including a close-up shot of the clever bellows arrangement that provides air to the whistle mechanism.

Here is the link to the eBay listing for this German whistling figure automaton.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Accordion player automaton nickelodeon

Accordion player automaton nickelodeon
Here's an interesting coin-operated automaton depicting an accordion player currently on the eBay auction site.

From the eBay listing
Made by Swiss automaton builder Zwahlen from Yverdon ca. 1960. Moves finger, lips,eye brows, eyes and plays with tape recorder inside. You can put loud/soft and playing time.

Here's a link to the eBay listing for this Accordion player automaton nickelodeon.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Vintage automatic cigarette dispenser music box

Vintage automatic cigarette dispenser music box
Here is a neat vintage automatic cigarette dispenser on eBay. There is a button on the front that when pushed starts a the music box. The multiple doors of the dispenser gently open to reveal the chamber inside and reverse side of the doors where cigarettes have been placed. The doors then close on their own to finish the cycle.

Here is the full eBay listing with many other pictures for this Vintage automatic cigarette dispenser music box

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Friday, December 26, 2008

Music Box Study No. 5

Check out this amazing study of the larger DIY paper-punch music box by Ben Gerstein. Not only is the piece impressive, but it looks like quite a workout!

From the YouTube description:
Music I punched for the Teanola paper strip music box, identical to the Kikkerland model used in Studies I-IV but twice the size. The mechanism covers 20 notes of the C major scale.

[ Thanks Ben! ]

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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Musical Wonder House in Wiscasset, Maine

Musical Wonder House in Wiscasset, Maine
The Musical Wonder House, located in Wiscasset, Maine, is a unique museum featuring more than 5000 restored musical boxes, player grand pianos and organs, spring-wound phonographs, musical birds, porcelains, furniture, clocks, steins, whistlers, a musical painting, and 23 antique coin-operated machines.

The collection is housed in a 32-room mansion dating to 1852. They have an impressive gift shop and -- for the serious collector -- they offer a selection of restored antique musical boxes for sale.

Here is a link to the website of the Musical Wonder House and here is were you can take a virtual tour of the Musical Wonder House.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Mechanical Music Museum in Finland

Mechanical Music Museum in FinlandMekaanisen Musiikin Museo (The Mechanical Music Museum) is located in the Finnish lake district.

It is the largest museum of its kind in Scandinavia featuring mechanically produced music from instruments dating from the 1850s to the present. They offer a 70-minute guided tour in which visitors see and hear most of the museum's 290 instruments. The instruments are displayed in eight large rooms, each decorated in a style corresponding to the machines they hold.

If you are going to be in Finland, I would say that Mekaanisen Musiikin Museo would be worth a visit.

[ Thanks Kristiina! ]

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Automatic Accordion - Hohner Magic Organa

Automatic Accordion - Hohner Magic Organa
Check out this German-made automatic accordion by Hohner.

A spring-wound mechanism inside the instrument moves a paper roll over tubes connected to the accordion's 44 notes. A foot pump bellows connected via a hose to the accordion provides the air needed to for the instrument to sound its notes.

It's bit like a player-piano/organ strapped to your chest. I had no idea such things existed. Amazing. This one comes with 7 different programmed paper rolls.

Here is the eBay listing with more photographs of the automatic accordion called the Hohner Magic Organa

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Build-A-Tune: Programmable Thumb Piano

Here is another great creation from the talented Brad Litwin, maker of The Atom Smacker and other mechanical wonders. The piece is now on exhibit at the Dupage Children's Museum, in Naperville, IL.

This machine uses a series of studded disks to pluck the tongues on an instrument resembling a thumb piano tilted on its side. As the notes to the video remark, by rearranging the disks, the Build-A-Tune offers a near-infinite combination of rhythmic sequences, many of which sound a bit like music out of Africa or a rudimentary electronic sequencer.

Learn more about Brad and his creations at

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Masterful Balboa Park Carousel Egg

The Balboa Park Carousel Egg -- the fifth such egg completed by J. Grahl Design -- is a precise miniature reproduction of the Balboa Park Carousel. The egg features some 56 hand-carved carousel animals, detailed paintings, lights, and decorative trimmings.

18 years in the making, J. Grahl Design commissioned a team of master jewelers, machinists, wax carvers, crystal experts, sculptors, artists, and woodworkers to construct the egg.

Even the music mechanism was created by hand -- and when wound, plays a repertoire of 20 songs from the late 1890s. This fantastic piece weighs in at 80 pounds and with its base and music stand, reaches a height of 27 inches.

The egg is composed of nearly 5,000 parts of an astonishing variety of fine materials including:

* 22 Karat gold used for the outer decorative embellishments
* 20 carats of very high quality diamonds
* Platinum used for setting all diamonds
* Sterling silver overlaid with 18K gold for the base of the egg shell
* Lead Crystal - optical grade
* Brass, and bronze, cast iron, stainless and carbon steels
* Bird's eye maple

To view more work by J. Grahl visit

[ Thanks Nick! ]

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Sterling Silver Automaton Bird Music Box

Sterling Silver Automaton Bird Music Box
Made around 1950 in Germany, here is a gorgeous singing bird box with a tobacco compartment hidden in the back.

When you activate the start knob the lid opens and a little bird pops up. The bird then turns left and right opens its beak, flapping its wings, and sings a song. At the end of the song, the bird returns to the box and the lid automatically snaps closed. These things are truly marvelous.

Check out 10 detailed photographs of the silver singing bird automaton music box on the eBay listing.

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Video Details of Hank-cranked Songbird Serinette

I posted recently about the DIY Programmable Bird Song Organ from Gakken. Here's an other video which has a short montage at the beginning to give you a sense for the parts and pieces of the kit. It then goes on to show you a guy tuning the various pipes of the serinette.

You can buy the Gakken Bird Song Organ from The Japan Trend Shop.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

DIY Programmable Bird Song Organ from Gakken

I posted some time ago about a programmable punch-card music box that uses paper sheets you punch yourself and the Gloggomobile -- it's upscale cousin that plays a Glockenspiel based on the placement of pegs you arrange on a wooden cylinder.

 Programmable Bird Song Organ from Gakken
Here is another addition to the family of programmable mechanical music devices: the Gakken Bird Song Organ.

This kit provides everything you need to program a small hand-cranked chirping song bird organ. Another amazing kit from Gakken.

Here is a link to another video of the Programmable Bird Song Organ performing Amazing Grace.

You can buy the Gakken Bird Song Organ from The Japan Trend Shop.

[ More info on the MAKE Magainze Blog ]

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Monday, September 08, 2008

Antique Rotating Stand with Combined Music Box

Antique Rotating Stand with Combined Music Box
Here is a very interesting piece from the 1800's made by Kalliope Musik Werke of Leipzig, Germany. The device features a stand in the center that rotates when the the spring wound mechanism is activated. Because you can place anything you like on the stand, it is very flexible in how it may be used. On the stand, one may place a figurine (as shown here), seasonal items, holiday-related items, special occasion items, or prized possessions. There is also a fine music box inside the box that plays 7 inch kalliope discs.

Here is the full listing for the Antique Rotating Stand with Combined Music Box.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Miniature Singing Bird Box Automaton on eBay

Miniature Singing Bird Box Automaton
This is a handsome miniature singing bird automaton. It is small -- measuring just 4 1/4 x 2 1/2 x 1 3/4 inches!

When you slide a lever, the lid opens, the bird pops up and begins singing. The tiny bird moves its beak and turns its head. When it is done singing, the bird drops back down and the lid closes. These must have required some serious watch / clock making skills. Thought this type of automaton was made by many watch makers, the make on this one is not known.

Here is the eBay listing for this Singing Bird Box

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Player Piano Drawings, Rolls, Ads, and Music

Here is a nice video montage giving us a glimpse into the world of player pianos. The video shows various advertisements, punched rolls, and mechanical drawings of player piano mechanisms. The whole thing is set to a player piano playing "Putting on the Ritz".

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tin toys, Wind-up Toys, and Music Boxes Store

The Wound & Wound Toy Company has tons of great wind-up toys, tin toys, and music boxes. They have a very extensive product line, including the classic the string-climbing monkey for about $16 USD.

On the more exotic side, they even have a wind-up lithographed tin Boba Fett. Made in Japan and standing at about 9.5 inches tall, this one will set you back around $250 USD. This item is a bit of an exception; most of their products are very affordable.

Boba Fett Wind Up Tin Toy
A note about their site navigation: once you click on a given section (say "Tin Collectibles"), you need to go to the bottom of the page to find the link for the next set of items in that category. Look for the circles with numbers in them.

Check out all the wind-up toys, tin toys, and music boxes at The Wound & Wound Toy Company.

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Annotated Video of Mechanical Music Machines

This video features a number of mechanical music devices from the London Musical Museum. The video uses YouTube's annotations function, which points out various facts and features of the machines, making it quite informative.

You can learn more about mechanical music machines from the book Encyclopedia of Automatic Musical Instruments by Q. David Bowers - a definitive reference on this subject.

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Edison Mechanical Recording Device Kit

The folks over at MAKE have put together a fantastic video of the Edison Phonograph (or is it a Gramaphone?) kit. The kit allows you to record sound on the side of a plastic cup! Don't expect high fidelity, but still...this is a purely mechanical system that teaches all the basics about one of the last century's great inventions.

Visit the MAKE Magazine store to learn more about or buy the Edison-Style Cup Phonograph Kit.

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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Many Links to the Guinness Collection of Automata

Mandolin Player Automaton from the Guinness collecttion
Check out the Murtogh D. Guinness collection at the Morris Museum in Morristown, N.J. -- about 20 minutes from Newark.

The exhibit -- to be opened on November 6th, 2008 -- features mechanical musical instruments and automata from the late 1500s through the early 20th century.

Assembled by the Guinness family (of brewing fame), the collection includes some 700 music boxes, multi-instrument devices, street organs, and mechanical figures.

* Here is a link to Morris Museum web site.
* Here is a link to the Guinness collection of automata page.
* Here is an article on the exhibit from The New York Times.
* There is also an article on the exhibit in the January 2008 issue of Magic magazine (Back issues, $6 USD).

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Video of Three Jaquet-Droz Automata in BBC Film

While a bit longer than most videos I like to post, this one is worth a look. The first several minutes contain footage of the three famous automata created by Pierre Jaquet-Droz: The Musician, The Writer, and The Draftsman.

The automata footage is in the first few minutes. If you are curious about the French Revolution, Mozart, and Ben Franklin, by all the rest of the clip. Pretty interesting stuff, actually.

The video is from part 8 "The Drive For Power" of a 13 part series "The Ascent of Man" by Jacob Bronowski available as a 5 DVD set.

Here is a link to the The Ascent of Man 5 volume set.

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Mechanical Music: A Hand-Cranked Gramophone

Here's a short video clip of a hand-cranked record player. It must take a very steady hand and good sense of rhythm to make a song sound right.

This gramaphone makes for a great old-time style sound. Is that a milk jug being used for the speaker?

Thanks bhaaluu!


Sunday, May 18, 2008

Hand-Cranked Barrel Piano Automaton by Hicks

Hand-Cranked Barrel Piano Automaton by HicksTake a look at this hand-cranked barrel roll piano automaton selling today on eBay. The seller says that it is attributed to George Hicks and dates to around 1850.

Here are some of the details of this piece: 17 key piano with 3 bells, plays 6 songs, original barrel, original mechanics, some original figures, surface of the music box is original, in various woods, original hand crank and hardware.

The mechanisms are in working order, though the keys in are in need of tuning. I love the fact that it is hand-cranked.

The eBay listing has many more photos including close-ups of the figures, the mechanism, and the backside of the piece.

Here is the eBay listing for the Hand-Cranked Barrel Piano Automaton by Hicks.

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Mozart from Scrap-Made Mechanical Glockenspiel

Perhaps you recall the programmable Gloggomobil music machine I wrote about. Here is a related and remarkable DIY project...a weight-driven automatic glockenspiel made from assorted recovered materials. Well done!

From the YouTube Description:
"Andante Grazioso" (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart / KV331) played by a "Mechanical Music Box in a Drawer" made from recycling materials found in electronic-waste, bulky trash and at home.

To learn more about mechanical music, check out this post about The Encyclopedia of Automatic Musical Instruments.

[Thanks bhaaluu!]

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Hand-cranked Drum Machine Like The Gloggomobil

I posted a while back about the programmable music machine called the Gloggomobil.

In that post, I noted the high price tag of the Gloggomobil and suggested that a homemade solution was probably very doable. we have a excellent little drum machine that uses the same barrel-and-peg system to create a nifty little beat. Kudos!

This comes to us via a post on the Make Blog.


Friday, March 28, 2008

DIY Music Machine - Programmable Gloggomobil

Programmable Music MachineI published a post not long ago about an inexpensive Programmable DIY Mechanical Music Box that uses paper strips to program the song to be played.

Here is its upscale cousin -- the Gloggomobil, made by Naef, a swiss company.

The wooden barrel is spun by means of a hand-crank on the side. Small pegs are inserted into pre-drilled holes in the barrel to determine what note plays and when. The music plays on a small-scale metallophone or Glockenspiel (like a xylophone but with metal tuned bars rather than wood).

Where you see more than one peg on a line, the instrument will play a chord. It looks like it comes with pair of mallets for composing or non-automated playing.

The Gloggomobil will set you back over $1000 USD, but I am told it is of excellent craftsmanship and that they are made in limited quantities. This design cries out for a DIY version.

Once again, my thanks goes out to Falk Keuten who tells me he has had one of these amazing musical, mechanical gizmos for 30 years.

Check out a few more details on the Gloggomobil.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Programmable DIY Mechanical Music Box

Make Your Own Tune Music BoxMost small music boxes use a cylinder with metal studs mounted to a metal cylinder. As the cylinder rotates, each stud "plucks" a little finger that sounds a corresponding musical note.

Player pianos used a similar principle, but the notes were recorded on large sheets of paper, where a holes were punched in the paper to indicate which note strikes and when. By carefully coordinating the arrangement of holes, entire songs can be composed. Some consider this technique -- especially when it was applied to automated looms -- to be the world's first software.

This music box kit works like a miniature player piano. There are no pins, but a strip of paper, into which you punch holes yourself. That's right... you punch your own songs! You can replicate your favorite tunes or compose new ones. The possibilities are endless. In theory you can program your music box to play everything from classical, to country, to heavy metal, to TV commercial jingles.

In this kit, you get the music box mechanism (2 octaves in the key of C), the specialized hole punch, "Happy Birthday" pre-punched song strip, 3 blank song strips, and instructions. You can order additional paper strips for your magnum opus. A very novel, but at the same time historical, mechanical music toy.

Here is where you purchase your own DIY Programmable Music Box.

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Sunday, March 02, 2008

Encyclopedia of Automatic Musical Instruments

Encyclopedia of Automatic Musical Instruments by Q. David Bowers must be the definitive reference on this subject.

Published in 1972 by The Vestal Press of New York. Printed in hardcover, this book weighs in at over 1,008 pages with hundreds of black-and-white photographs, advertisements, and reproduction company brochures.

I don't own this book, but it is highly-rated by buyers and reviewers on Amazon.

Here's a link to the text of Vestal Press original advertising text.

 • Preface
 • Introduction
 • Cylinder Music Boxes
 • Disc Music Boxes
 • Player Pianos
 • Reproducing Pianos
 • Coin-Operated Pianos and Orchestrions
 • Organettes and Player Organs
 • Fairground Organs
 • Dictionary of Automatic Musical Instrument Terms
 • Bibliography
 • Index

Take look at the book Encyclopedia of Automatic Musical Instruments

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