Today on the Home & Garden Network (HGTV) there was a program called
"Christmas of Yesteryear." The show was about Christmas customs in
the U.S. in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. They showed two
segments which included mechanical music machines.
The first segment took place in colonial Williamsburg, Virginia where
a man demonstrated Ben Franklin's glass armonica and played "Green-
sleeves" on the instrument. He later demonstrated a hurdy-gurdy of the
era. At first, I thought the hurdy-gurdy was some kind of mandolin-
like instrument. Then I saw that he was turning a crank on the end of
The second segment showed the Mississippi Queen with its steam calliope
being played by Dan Foreman. The shots included the pipes and
ornamental figures, and also the keyboard.
In both segments, the musicians not only demonstrated the instruments,
they also described and explained them. The show's producers are to
be commended for this. All too often, mechanical music instruments
serve only as a backdrop to the rest of the program which means the
viewers never see the instruments described.
The Home & Garden Network is not available in all markets. They did
give an address where you can write to them:
P.O. Box 50970
Knoxville, TN 37950
Their web address is:
Player Piano and Mechanical Music Exchange