Mechanical Musical Instruments

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Mechanical Musical Instruments


instruments technically equipped to perform musical works that are recorded on discs and played without the direct involvement of musicians.

Mechanical musical instruments are of the most diverse construction and form, ranging from small primitive snuffboxes, music boxes, and musical alarm clocks on the one hand, to complex floor clocks, polyphones, orchestrions, tower chimes, and sound-producing carriages on the other.

The first mention of mechanical musical instruments dates from the 16th century. An especially large variety of such instruments appeared at the turn of the 19th century in many countries, including Russia. Such instruments were used in restaurants, inns and among the petite bourgeoisie. At this time the barrel organ became widespread. With the coming of the phonograph, and, later, tape-recording apparatus, mechanical musical instruments fell into disuse.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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