Thursday, October 29, 2009

What is an Orchestrion Anyway?

A few weeks ago I did a post on "Orchestrion Hall" and all the goodies found therein. It occurred to me that the word Orchestrion may not be so readily understood these days, so here's some pics and movies with Orchestrions.

An Orchestrion is a mechanical musical instrument that starts with a large "player pipe organ." Just as there have always been player pianos or pianolas, there were pipe organs that played automatically from punched cards or punched rolls of paper. An Orchestrion goes even further by including a small orchestra of instruments that all play automatically from the same roll of music. Orchestrions included the pipe organ, drums, a piano, sometimes reed pipes, sometimes even string instruments.

Here you can see the mechanisms of a Welte Orchestrion. Notice the very large bellows and air chest in the bottom.

Here are some YouTube movies with some notable Orchestrions, including the magnificent collection at the Nethercutt Museum in Los Angeles. The first video was one I took on the sly, when no one was looking.

Followers of this blog know that we are very interested in mechanical musical instruments of all types, including organ clocks, flute clocks, trumpeter clocks, cuckoo clocks, music boxes... The Orchestrion could be considered the master granddaddy of all of these fascinating devices.

No comments:

Post a Comment