The explanation of the terms listed below refer to their usage in the field of Mechanical Music. Many of the descriptions are from the book The Golden Age of Automatic Musical Instruments by MBSI member Arthur A. Reblitz, published by the Mechanical Music Press, Woodsville, New Hampshire; copyright 2001. They are used here with permission of the author and publisher. Permission is granted for writers to use a limited number of brief excerpts provided credit is given to the MBSI web site, the title of the original work and the author. Written permission is required for all other uses. German nouns and words that are also names of places are capitalized.
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mainspring. The power source, made of tempered steel, for clockwork mechanisms.
mandolin. 1. Mandolin attachment. A mechanical device or curtain apparatus in a piano which, when turned on, produces a "tinny" or "rinky-tink" sound similar to that made by metal or wooden hammers hitting the strings. Sometimes made in the form of a cloth curtain with separate metal- or wood-studded hanging tabs; sometimes in the form of small wooden paddles or plungers positioned between the hammer shanks and strings. A common attachment in coin pianos and orchestrions. Nelson-Wiggen called its curtain-type device the banjo attachment. Hupfeld called it the Harfe-Illusion (See harp effect.) 2. Mandolin Effect, Mandoline. A special piano action in the treble section of a street piano (also listed in this Glossary), with hard wood hammers (or hammers covered with buckskin or very hard felt) actuated by a rotating splined shaft, which strike the strings in a reiterating manner, producing a loud realistic mandolin-like ringing sound. Also used in the Wurlitzer Mandolin Quartette. In the Hupfeld Helios, where it was called the Mandolinen-Illusion, the mandolin mechanism is mounted above the regular piano hammers, providing either piano or mandolin sound.
mandoline box. A cylinder musical box with four or more teeth tuned to each note in the melody and embellishment sections (not in the bass section) or to the tones used in the tunes played so that by plucking each tooth in rapid succession the note is sustained and mimics the sound of a mandolin. The cylinder is readily identified by the obvious angled lines of pins that create the "trill" effect. Some later-period boxes were made with as few as three notes per tune, referred to as pseudo-mandoline.
manivelle (French) crank. Usually refers to small musical boxes that do not have spring motors but are operated by turning a small crank, hence the name. Generally applies to novelty musical boxes but also to small, disc-playing musical boxes.
manual. Keyboard, especially on a photoplayer or pipe organ.
maraca. Hollow gourd or wood rattle containing small pebbles or seeds; used as a percussion effect. Certain Decap organs include an exceptionally loud maraca made of hard fibre tubing and steel ball bearings.
marimba. Large scale xylophone with thin, wide bars and tuned tubular resonators, producing a sound much mellower and more sustained than that of the xylophone. The marimba used in a few Nelson-Wiggen 5X orchestrions and the similar marimbaphone, as it was called in certain Link coin pianos, play an octave lower than the usual xylophone.
marquetry. See veneer.
master roll. Roll used on a perforator to control the punches for making production rolls. Sometimes the master roll is several times the length of the final production roll in order to provide greater accuracy and easier synchronization with the reader or sensing mechanism.
mechanical musical instrument. 1. General term used to describe all self-playing musical instruments (although certain types of pneumatic instruments with sophisticated expression capabilities-large orchestrions, pipe organs, and reproducing pianos, for example-were never designated as such). See automatic musical instrument. 2. Self-playing musical instrument, especially one that is powered by a hand crank, a spring, a weight drive, or other clockwork mechanism (as opposed to electrically-driven instruments, most of which were originally designated as automatic rather than mechanical).
melodia pipe. Open flute pipe of medium loudness that speaks at 8' pitch. Larger scale and less imitative of the orchestral instrument than an orchestral flute pipe.
melody section. 1. Predominant part of music which is recognizable as the "tune." Technically, any succession of single notes (as contrasted to "harmony," which is the simultaneous sounding of several notes). 2. In a fairground organ, the division of pipes which frequently plays the melody or main melodic parts of the music. Other divisions of a typical fairground organ are the countermelody, accompaniment, and bass.
mezzo forte. Intensity or sound level of moderate loudness. In reproducing pianos, an intensity halfway between forte (loud) and piano (soft). Abbreviated as mf.
mignon. Adjective of French derivation used to describe any small object. The Welte-Mignon reproducing piano was small compared to the orchestrions built by the Welte firm. * French: small.
military band organ. Mainly American usage to designate a band organ with exposed brass pipes on the front, although in the 1920s Wurlitzer used the military adjective to designate certain band organs without brass pipes. * Synonyms: skating rink organ, trumpet organ (mainly used to describe early barrel-operated models).
mitered pipe. Pipe which has been mitered, or cut apart and reassembled, usually at a 90-degree angle, so that it will fit into a shorter space. As long as the interior or speaking length of the pipe remains the same, the pitch is unaffected by mitering.
mixture. In a pipe organ or band organ, two or more pipe ranks of the same basic tonal family (but of different pitch) which are sounded together by a single register. Usually used in the treble range to achieve a greater volume (to balance the powerful bass division). High treble mixtures add great brilliance to the tone, as in Bruder and Ruth fairground organs.
monkey organ. Portable hand-cranked barrel organ, especially one used by an organ grinder and played in the streets. Derivation: sometimes a monkey was kept on a leash and held a cup to receive donations.
mortuary organ. Paper-roll-operated piano and pipe organ combination unit (or sometimes, an organ only, without piano) used to provide a musical background for mortuary services. The Seeburg Style MO is an example.
movement. The mechanism of a small automatic musical instrument, esp. a music box. * Synonym: musical movement.
moving picture scene. 1. Scene painted on glass with motion effects provided by rotating light cylinders (for waterfalls, rivers, etc.), moving silhouettes of railroad trains, dirigibles, hot air balloons, etc. projected from behind. 2. Actual three-dimensional model of village scene with water wheel, railroad train, cog railroad, and other animated elements built behind glass in front of a painted scene. Lighting effects provide daylight, sunset, lights in little buildings, moonlight, etc. Both styles popular in German orchestrions c. 1905-1912, and very desirable by collectors today. * Synonyms: motion picture effect, moving picture effect.
multiplex. The use of a single hole in a tracker bar (or key in a key frame, etc.) to perform multiple functions, usually in combination with other holes. Thus, for example, holes 1, 2, and 3 may have separate functions when used singly; 1 and 2 have a different function when used at the same time; 1 and 3 have still another function, etc. Used in certain of reproducing pianos, large orchestrions, and other instruments to reduce the number of holes needed in the tracker bar (and, consequently, the width of the roll). Examples of multiplexing can be found in the Hupfeld Pan Orchestra, Weber Maesto, and Seeburg KT Special, to cite just three of many examples.
music book. See book music.
music box comb. See comb.
music box. 1. Music box (mainly American usage; e.g., Regina Music Box Co.) or musical box (mainly British usage). An instrument which plays music by the plucking of teeth on a tuned steel comb. Most commonly found in a cabinet, usually made of wood, which contains a disc or cylinder music box movement. 2. General term used by the public to describe any type of automatic musical instrument. In this usage, the term musical box (i.e., a box that produces music) would be more descriptive than music box (i.e., a box made for storing music, such as sheet music).
music leaf system. Describes the use of a roll made of heavy manila paper and acted upon by a key frame. A term used by Imhof & Mukle.
music roll. Strip of thin paper (usually) on which music and control functions are arranged by a series of perforations. When played on a tracker bar the perforations cause a roll-operated instrument to perform. Two main music roll types were made: rewind rolls (the most popular, also listed in this Glossary), and endless rolls (also listed in this Glossary).
musical comb. See comb.