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MMD > Archives > October 2014 > 2014.10.07 > 07Prev  Next

Dating the Tunes on a Molinari Barrel Organ
By Craig Smith

Hi MMD Folks,  I've copied Angelo's questions and added some comments.

> 1. Was a seven-tune barrel customary?

I don't know what size Molinari organ you're working with so I don't
really know the answer to this question.  If it's a somewhat typical
23-key Molinari organ, I can say that they apparently came in both 7-
and 9-tune versions.  The 9-tune organ was a little larger so the pipes
are longer and they are tuned a couple notes lower.  Conversely, the
7-tune organ is a bit lighter.

> 2. Is it customary that only one of the seven tunes would be commonly
> known today?

Maybe, maybe not.  It depends on when it was pinned and what the
organ's owner wanted.  You get what you get.  Remember, these organs
were a money-making instrument for the organ grinder.  He wanted
popular tunes so people would give him money.  Since the grinder would
frequent different parts of town, he would want tunes that people in
the different neighborhoods would like.

'O Sole Mio' wouldn't go over very well in the Irish neighborhood
any more than 'The Wearing of the Green' would go over in the Italian
neighborhood, so the more typical tune-set would have a couple tunes
of each type -- Italian, Irish, patriotic, popular ballads and waltzes.
I have an organ where 8 of the 9 tunes are not only commonly known but
are still 'popular'.  The most desirable now: "Sidewalks of New York".

> 3. Did Molinari always use a printed tune card with the tune titles
typed out?

> 4. Would they ever have used a hand scribbled tune card?

I've seen various versions.  I suspect that the tunes cards were
originally typed on a Molinari tune card.  When the original card got
damaged or lost, you can find most anything.

> 5. Is there an efficient way of dating tune titles from the early
> 20th century?

Put the title into Google and read about when it was published.

> 6. How may one listen to such tunes?

Often you will also find an audio of the tune on the same web page.
And YouTube is another good source.

By the way, I'm looking for a small Molinari barrel organ that plays
some Italian tunes (hopefully 2 or more tunes).  Maybe one from Italy
would have more.  Please let me know if you find one or have one.

Craig Smith
Western New York State

 [ Molinari 23 note tune card

(Message sent Tue 7 Oct 2014, 21:34:53 GMT, from time zone GMT-0700.)

Key Words in Subject:  Barrel, Dating, Molinari, Organ, Tunes

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