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MMD > Archives > December 2007 > 2007.12.01 > 04Prev  Next

Promoting Mechanical vs. Non-Mechanical Music
By Todd Augsburger

Although I certainly understand Adam Ramet's view (071130 MMDigest,
"Promoting Non-Mechanical Music") that some people will never be
attracted to "Mechanical" music, I must say that I find just the

Many people _are_ interested in the mechanical/automatic side of the
equation.  Why else was my generic, marginally musical upright piano
in constant use for hours as family gathered last week, while other
keyboard instruments sat idle?  And this was in a group where "musical"
talent abounds -- several _could_ have played had they wished.

Perhaps Adam is only saying that collectors like I should promote
musical _mechanics_, rather than the resultant music, since the music
of my instruments will never equal modern equivalents?

I find the same reaction when I demonstrate organettes ("cheap junk").
Few want to listen to an organette concert, but I sometimes have
novices who end up staying for hours, looking and asking questions
about the mechanisms and their historic setting.  There are even some
instruments I introduce as "not particularly musical, _but_ ... "
and they're still fascinated!

Perhaps there's less promotion of _modern_ gadgets by showing their
"innards" (although I seem to recall many presentations which do --
almost every web site has a "spec sheet" on gadgets or software), and
maybe some people would buy a modern instrument without looking at the
action (although I wouldn't), but we're talking about 100-year-old

Are you suggesting that an antique car should be popular today because
of its ride, aesthetics, or performance?  No, I want to see under the
hood, and I applaud the designers who did miracles with what they had
available at the time.  Likewise I'm fascinated by other mechanical
gadgetry of any era; in fact, one of my only "electric" items is a 1938
Rock-ola jukebox, which draws everyone's attention as it selects and
plays a record.  Gee, why do you suppose they put that glass in the

But I certainly agree with Adam Ramet's declaration that "'hands-on' is
vital".  Sometimes I "request" that people become involved in cranking
or pumping, to make sure they're a part of the experience.  And sometimes
I've even intentionally left the room, or shifted my focus elsewhere,
if I think someone feels intimidated with me watching.

And kids can be great!  An 11-year-old visitor recently made me
demonstrate _everything_ mechanical, working or not.

One advantage I find in primarily collecting and showing organettes is
that the instruments _cannot_ be played non-interactively -- you gotta
turn that crank.  I guess you might say that I'm presenting the
instruments rather than the music.  But then, that's what I collect!

Those of you who collect music, and have instruments which can perform
beyond expectation, surpassing other modern instruments, then by all
means go for it.  Just remember that I collect something different than
you, and there are a significant number of people who enjoy it!

Todd Augsburger - The Organette House Mechanical Music Museum

(Message sent Sat 1 Dec 2007, 15:31:35 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  Mechanical, Music, Non-Mechanical, Promoting, vs

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