Why was the player piano developed? To fulfill a need.
Most people alive today have no idea of what life would have been like
around 1900 without mechanical music machines. No TV, no radios, no
phonographs -- in short no way of producing music or entertainment
except by making your own or hiring others to make it for you. If a
business wanted to provide music for its customers, what was it to do
except to hire an orchestra, band, or small ensemble? If a farm family
wanted music in the evening after a hard day's work, someone in the
family needed to own an instrument and to be able to play it.
Mechanical music machines -- music(al) boxes, orchestrions, player
pianos, player organs, player violins, dance organs, carousel organs --
filled the same need then as radio, TV, sound systems, and other
electronic marvels fill now. Just that simple -- and just that obvious
if you stop to think about it.
Matthew Caulfield (Irondequoit, N.Y.)