MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS, Mechanical. The record of inventions and devices in this field shows a great variety of shapes, sounds and methods of operation. One of the most famous in this class of music-producers was Barnum's steam calliope, used for many years in circus processions. Organs of all sizes and shapes, set in motion by the occasional turning of a crank or pressing a button, are widely used for purposes of public entertainment Swiss music boxes with cylinders and American music boxes with discs are embraced in the same class. There are also mechanical banjos, violins, zithers, mandolins and trombones.
Progress of the Since the advent of the first piano-player, a few years ago, rapid strides have been made in the cre ation and production, by purely mechanical methods, of classical and popular music. The perforated paper roll, passing over a perfo rated wooden cylinder, so that a current of air may pass at stated times, still forms a leading feature of the automatic idea in many pianos. See PIANO.
The earliest efforts of those who undertook to create and introduce mechanical harmony effects yielded crude, unsatisfactory and un promising results. Progress was blocked at every turn by practical difficulties not contem plated in theoretical calculations and ex periments.
First the first products of the mechanical piano-playing movement was an odd-appearing, seemingly over-elaborate ac cumulation of rubber-tubes, strikers, bellows and pedals, nearly all of these contrivances and accessories being fixed to a wooden frame and inserted in the back part of the piano, between the frame-posts. It was found impracticable to include all necessary material without increas ing the size of the piano proper. This was accomplished by adding several inches to the piano's depth.
Portable Notable among the next succeeding stages of piano-player development was the invention and perfecting of a movable and easily-portable player, having cylinder, per forated rolls and pedal action. About half the regular piano width and only a trifle higher than the keyboard, this °supplement* can be moved at will to the centre of the piano, in front. Operation of the pedals results in the bringing of any one or more of a series of hammers or strikers in direct contact with the key surfaces, speed and force being regulated by several thumb-pieces projecting from the player top or side. Players of this description, with many variations, are still in use but have been partially superseded by more elaborate contrivances.
Interior many costly ex periments, covering several years, an interior player, which has been very successful thus far and promises to evolutionize the whole industry of piano-making, was perfected. It was found
possible to minimize the parts in such a way that practically the entire player apparatus, ex cepting, of course, the pedals, could be placed above the keyboard in front of the action and behind the fallboard, the latter hiding it com pletely from view. Thousands of these pianos containing mechanical players have been made and sold. Makers of pianos of all grades have accepted this interior player, with modifications, as permanent, and it is becoming a standard feature in regular piano styles.
Electricity Introduced.-- In the interval between the perfecting of ((movable° and terior° piano-players, an enterprising practical New York electrician and piano-action maker secured certain important player rights and privileges and set to work on the problem of electrical operation. Experiments, extending over several years, were finally successful. Electrical attachments were devised and intro duced in such a manner as to make it possible for any person or firm, in any part of the world, having a simple electrical connection, to start and stop the player at will. The advance in usefulness of the mechanical piano-player thereby reached a stage where it only needed the occasional insertion of a perforated roll to produce, without any further physical effort whatever, perfect musical effects, including corn rect tempo and proper expression.
Continuous Since that time, con tinuous rolls have been devised to admit of several tunes being played successively without any interference on the part of the person who applies the electrical connection and turns on the current. The device just referred to, with numerous variations, is now largely in use throughout the United States, Canada and other countries for the en tertainment of guests, travelers and others in restaurants, hotels, saloons, railroad stations and similar public resorts. Some are operated by use of an electric button conveniently placed at tables, hotel desks and in private apartments. Others start by the insertion of a coin in a metal slot at the side of the instrument.
The manufacture of pianos in the United States gives employment to 24,000 persons, and piano materials 10,500 more. Organs and organ materials employ 3,300; other musical instru ments and materials 2,000. These figures do not include phonographic machines for repro ducing music. The musical instrument industry centres mainly in Indiana, Illinois, Massachu setts, New Jersey, New York and Michigan.