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MMD > Archives > March 1999 > 1999.03.25 > 01Prev  Next

Mechanical Music LP "Musical Gadgetry"
By Mike Knudsen

Members have been posting about recordings of mechanical music.  I've
unpacked enough from the move to find a couple of my old favorites.
One is called "Musical Gadgetry" on the Spectrutone label (of
Barrington, NJ).  It was given to me by the father of a girl I was
dating in college around 1967, and probably dates from mid 1950s.

It features samples of different kinds of instruments, most owned by
a Lewis J. Kirstein of Frehold, NJ (anyone know of him?).  Starting off
are three tunes on a Wurlitzer 157 band organ of 1909; best song is
"Who".  Then a couple short tunes on a very out-of-tune barrel pipe
monkey organ, followed by a slightly better-tuned street barrel piano
with reiterating action.

There's a terrific bar room tune on a Nelson-Higgins (sic: Wiggins?
Chicago, 1920) "Orchestrope" piano with xylophone, followed by an
incredible arrangement of "St. Louis Blues" on an unidentified "bell
and xylophone piano".  Then "Three O'clock in the Morning" on a
"Mandolin Piano" with superb dynamic range, using several hammer rail
lift positions and a mandolin tack strip.

Finally, a Regina 15 inch ("My Old Kentucky Home") and a 27 inch
changer playing the "William Tell Overture."  And a large late Paillard
orchestral cylinder box playing "Funiculi, Funicula" with a large reed
organ section, bells and percussion, but the combs (called "harp" in
the liner notes) are inaudible.

The band organ and piano tunes are fun just to listen to, and the
others are interesting and a good sampling for newcomers.  The
recording used the "Weathers Acoustimetric Sound Tracing System" (wow!)
and is really quite good for an off brand label.  In fact pretty good,

Except for "Who", no tunes are identified, but I recognized most of
them.  Maybe someone can identify the Orchestrope tune if I can make
a WAV file of it.  I hope some of you recognize some instruments (like
the Orchestrope) in these descriptions.

I have another, newer album called "Coinola Sampler" that I may post
about later.

Mike Knudsen

(Message sent Thu 25 Mar 1999, 04:35:55 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  Gadgetry, LP, Mechanical, Music, Musical

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