barrel organ

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barrel organ,

mechanical musical instrument requiring nothing but the regular rotary motion of a handle to keep it going. It probably originated at the beginning of the 18th cent., and was once used extensively in English churches. A revolving cylinder is fitted with pegs that open valves, permitting air to enter a set of organ pipes. Some larger ones have several sets of pipes and various couplers. They can be operated by clockwork, by weights, and by electric motors. A portable type of barrel organ whose cylinder is turned by a hand crank has been mistakenly called hurdy-gurdyhurdy-gurdy,
musical instrument with three strings that are caused to vibrate by a wooden wheel turned by a crank. Stopping is accomplished by keys that usually affect only the string that plays the melody, the others acting as drones.
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, from which it is fundamentally different.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Barrel Organ


a mechanical wind instrument. The barrel organ, a type of portative organ, resembles a small box and consists of bellows, organ pipes in one or more ranks, and cylinders equipped with metal pins. As the cylinder is turned by a hand crank, the pins engage a special mechanism that opens a passage permitting air to reach the pipes; at the same time, air is pumped by means of the bellows. Some barrel organs have replaceable cylinders and can thus perform several musical pieces. The instrument, which first appeared in Western Europe in the 18th century and in Russia in the first quarter of the 19th century, was popular among itinerant musicians. The barrel organ is called a katerynka in the Ukraine and a katarynka in Poland.


Buchner, A. Musikinstrumente im Wandel der Zeiten. Prague, 1956.


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

barrel organ

1. an instrument consisting of a cylinder turned by a handle and having pins on it that interrupt the air flow to certain pipes, thereby playing any of a number of tunes
2. a similar instrument in which the projections on a rotating barrel pluck a set of strings
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Bands (top) gathered out-side the Barrel Organ in 1980 to record a gatefold album (above); Louis Armstrong (left) performing at the Embassy Sportsdrome on Walford Road, Sparkhill.
Most notably, as tensions escalate in the house during the Fete de la Coliniere, the Marquis forsakes his responsibility to put a stop to the mayhem, instead choosing to exhibit his newly-acquired barrel organ to the remaining audience.
The narrator may be typecast (the poor young man), rendered abstract (time and space) or unreal as speaker (the foetus of the poet, the barrel organ) or he may be hiding in the wings (and he is always in some way a stylized figure), but what the volume offers is polyphony.
Moving on to the pier, the screeching of seagulls is relieved by the sound of a jolly barrel organ. Old cast-iron seats, lifebelts and gas lamps line the walls.
The event opens at 1pm with attractions throughout the afternoon including a steam traction engine, a steam barrel organ, hog roast, chestnut man, a children's ride, a fire engine, choir, DJ and a big band.
There were stalls, children's games, an antique barrel organ played and afternoon tea was served.
The Perlee plays music on cards using the same principle as a barrel organ.
They held long running residencies at The Railway, The Barrel Organ in Digbeth, The Golden Lion in Solihull and The Elizabethan Days in Stirchley.
A barrel organ, with a monkey on a leash and begging bowl on the ground, played a succession of tunes from the twenties, one hardly distinguishable from another in the din of traffic and sidewalk chatter.
Head for Leidseplein and Dam Square for street theatre, buskers and barrel organ performances.
Visitors will be entertained with a traditional barrel organ, carol singers, a brass quartet and the Three Spires Barbershop singers.
In the gardens Wrexham Brass Band will play two shows each day and there's music of an old barrel organ and a traditional accordion.