Mechanical Instruments

Mechanical instruments (non-electronic). Machines designed to produce music mechanically, sometimes with an operator but without a performer and without the aid of a loudspeaker.

Mechanical instruments (non-electronic). Machines designed to produce music mechanically, sometimes with an operator but without a performer and without the aid of a loudspeaker. Before the end of the 19th century such instruments operated on a 'barrel and pin' system which dated back at least five centuries. Included within this category were instruments which operated by means of clockworks, such as mechanical organs and 18th-century flute clocks, or by crank, such as barrel organs. During the late 19th century a second type of mechanism was perfected. This was the perforated paper roll used in the operation of player and reproducing pianos, phonolas, pianolas, etc.

For entries in EMC on mechanical instruments see Barrel organs; Music boxes; Player pianos and nickelodeons. See also Instrument collections.


Further Reading

  • Bowers, Q. David. Encyclopedia of Automatic Instruments (New York 1973)

    Ord-Hume, Arthur W.J.G. Mechanical Music (London 1973)