Glossary

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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cabinet style: A piano without a keyboard. * Also: keyboardless.

café organ: Small to medium-sized dance organ (also listed in this Glossary).

calliope: Instrument with stopped flute-type brass (usually) pipes voiced on high pressure and intended for outdoor use. Barrel-operated steam calliopes, mostly made during the 19th century, used steam to blow the pipes. Most 20th century calliopes (such as the Tangley Calliaphone) are air-operated (via a pump or blower) and are properly called air calliopes. These instruments were mainly used in America.

canary organ: See bird organ.

cancel: To turn off a function which was previously switched (or "locked") on. * Synonym: off, piano (universal, originally from Italian). * Dutch: afsluiter. * French: declan, declanche, ferme jeux. * German: ab, Abshieber, ausschalten.

cardboard music: See book music.

carillon: 1. Set of bells, usually three to four octaves in range, played from a keyboard or by a pinned cylinder or other automatic device, used mainly in clock and church towers. 2. In pipe organs, dance organs, and street organs a mixture of a stopped flute and one or more ranks of high-pitched pipes tuned to upper harmonics of the desired note. Imitative of small bells, especially when played staccato.

carousel organ: Band organ used on a carousel or merry-go-round. * Synonym: fairground organ.

cartel box: A large-sized (over 13") cylinder musical box usually associated with Geneva, Switzerland, where it was first made.

castanets: Small shallow cup-shaped clappers made of Bakelite, hardwood, or other hard substance. Sound is produced by striking the clappers against each other or against a mounting board, producing a high-pitched clicking or rattling sound. Used for accenting rhythm in dance organs and orchestrions.

celesta: Mellow-sounding instrument in which large felt hammers resembling oversize piano hammers strike tuned steel or aluminum bars. In theatre organ terminology: Chrysoglott.

celeste tuning: Two ranks of pipes, of which one rank is tuned sharp or flat of the other rank. Celeste tuning, usually employed with ranks of identical tone quality, gives an added fullness or "chorus" effect to the music. Also, the same type of tuning in a music box.

cello grave pipe: Large 16' string pipe, usually made of metal, used in the countermelody division of Mortier, Gaudin, and certain other dance organs, used for very low, deep melody and countermelody parts that would be played by a baritone saxophone in a dance band.

cello pipe: String pipe constructed in the manner of a violin pipe (usually with a frein or roller), but of a lower pitch than a violin pipe. Often in German orchestrion catalogs, a single rank of string pipes is described as having violin (highest treble section), viola, violoncello, and cello (lowest bass section) pipes, although violoncello and cello are synonymous from a strict usage viewpoint.

cement: The thick resinous material which is used in the cylinder of a musical box to hold the pins in place and to afford a deeper, more resonant sound.

center spindle: The device in a disc musical box which holds the disc in its proper position for playing and has the height wheel attached to it for proper alignment of the disc.

chain perforations: Closely-spaced (separated by narrow paper "bridges") perforations in a music roll. Instead of a long open slot, the chain perforation is used to give added strength to the paper and to minimize tearing or wrinkling. The bridges are very small and do not interrupt the flow of air in the tracker bar hole. The result is a continuously-sounding or sustained note or control function.

chamber organ: A barrel organ in a styled cabinet which was softly voiced and meant for play in parlors and related areas.

Charleston: cymbal. Term used in some European orchestrion and dance organ scales to indicate hi-hat cymbal (also listed in this Glossary).

chimes: Tuned brass tubes, struck by mallets, with a tone quality imitative of church bells. * Synonym: tubular chimes. (In some Wurlitzer factory scale sticks, the term chimes was used to designate orchestra bells, or flat steel bars.)

chimney flute pipe: Half-stopped flute pipe with a tubular "chimney" at the top. In some organs, jazz flutes are chimney flutes with strong vibrato (although Decap and others also had different types of jazz flutes). * Synonym (in pipe organ terminology): rohrflute.

Chinese block: See wood block.

Chinese crash cymbal: See crash cymbal.

choir division: The division of a pipe organ usually controlled by the third manual, containing soft stops useful for accompaniment purposes.

chord: The simultaneous sounding of several tones, usually three or more.

chordophon: The generic term for stringed automatic musical instruments which are played by hammers, bowed, strummed, etc.

chromatic: Adjective used to describe the presence of all twelve different tones (including sharps) in a Western music scale. A chromatic scale has all twelve notes in succession, without any omissions. A non-chromatic scale (often seen in band organs) is one in which one or more notes are omitted from the chromatic 12-note scale.

chrysoglott: Tuned percussion instrument having metal bars struck by large felt hammers. Used in theatre organs. Resembles a large scale celesta (also listed in this Glossary) with electropneumatic action. The tone resembles that of the hand-played vibraharp.

clarinet pipe: Reed pipe with a cylindrical open resonator; imitative of the orchestral instrument. Used as a rank in pipe organs, band organs, photoplayers, and some large European orchestrions. * Also spelled: clarinette, clarionette.

clavés: Pair of hard cylindrical wooden sticks, which produce a high-pitched click when struck together. Used for rhythmic accents in Latin music such as sambas, rhumbas, cha-chas, etc. A popular effect in Decap and Bursens dance organs.

Clavioline: A simple electronic organ used in some post-1940 Decap and Mortier/van den Bosch dance organs, replacing one or more ranks of solo organ pipes.

click spring: A small metal spring which holds pressure against the pawl of a musical box winding ratchet.

cob: (American term). The pinned wooden barrel used in the Gem, Concert, Chautauqua and other similar organs.

cock bracket: A stand-off bracket used to support one end of a driven shaft. In a clockwork mechanism, the bracket which holds the tip of the endless screw in the governor.

coin accumulator: See accumulator.

coin chute: In a coin piano, the metal (usually) chute in which a coin is inserted for playing a tune. Usually in two parts, the outer chute (which receives the coin) and the inner chute (which connects the outer chute to the coin switch or accumulator). Typically includes a magnet to reject steel slugs to prevent free play.

coin piano: Coin-operated piano, especially an electric coin-operated piano. * Synonym: nickelodeon

coin slide: A push-pull coin chute.

comb: A series of tuned metal teeth arranged in a musical scale, providing the basic tone of a music box. Made in many varieties. * Synonym: musical comb.

comb base: The base upon which a musical box comb rests. Synonyms: trestle, brass pedestal, plinth.

combination: In an organ or orchestrion, several registers or pipe ranks which are turned on or off simultaneously.

compass: Range of musical notes or playing scale.

concert flute pipe: Open wood pipe organ rank with tone somewhat louder and smoother than that of the orchestral instrument.

console: 1. Key desk or keyboard unit of a pipe organ. Contains one or more keyboards (manuals), pedals, control stops, and other devices for operating the organ. 2. Center or piano section of a theatre photoplayer or pit organ.

contra bass: Rank of bass pipes in a large orchestrion or band organ which play an octave lower than the usual bass pipes. Heinrich Voigt added contra bass pipes to many fairground organs, giving them a powerful, deep fundamental tone.

contra trumpets: Low trumpet pipes in certain German fairground organs (e.g., Bruder, Ruth), which bridge the gap between the highest trombone and lowest trumpet pipes.

countermelody: 1. An independent melody, subordinate to the melody in a piece of music, and played simultaneously with the melody. 2. A division of pipes in a band organ which usually plays countermelodies, long sustained chords, low melodies, or other parts.

coupled: Describes two or more piano hammers or other sounding devices which are connected to play from the same hole in the music roll (or key in a key frame, etc.). In many coin pianos and orchestrions, the lowest bass piano notes are coupled to permit a better foundation of tone than would otherwise be possible from a 65-note music roll, for example.

coupler: 1. Device, especially in a photoplayer or pipe organ, which permits the operator (or a music roll) to couple and uncouple at will additional pipe ranks or sections of the instrument. Specific couplers are called bass couplers, sub-bass couplers, octave couplers, etc. in pipe organs. 2. Multiplexing device in an orchestrion or band organ which switches groups of tracker bar holes from one group of notes, percussion, etc. to another, providing more musical effects than would otherwise be possible. For example, couplers are used in the Hupfeld Phonoliszt-Violina (to allow for more fingers on each violin), in the Wurlitzer 180 band organ (to increase the notes available in the clarinet, piccolo and trumpet sections), and in the Seeburg KT Special (to provide extra percussion instruments). Details are included in Appendix IV. * Synonym: switch.

courbette: The tool used by the justifier to bend and perfectly align cylinder pins so that they catch the tip of the tooth that they are to play. Synonym: pin-straightener.

crash cymbal: Large-sized cymbal (also listed in this Glossary), usually with a bent-over rim or lip, struck with great force by a wooden or felt-padded beater. * Synonym: Chinese crash cymbal.

crescendo: To become gradually louder. Also a term for swell shutters, louvers, or other mechanisms which control sound volume. * Antonym: decrescendo, the gradual decreasing of volume or intensity of music.

croisage: The overlapping of pin and comb tooth tips in a cylinder musical box. Specifically, the tips of the treble teeth must be just a shade higher than those of the bass teeth.

cuff: The sleeve-shaped truncated metal cone used on the Capital "cuff" boxes made by F.G. Otto & Sons (collectors' term used today).

cylinder: Wooden cylinder or barrel used in a barrel piano, organ, or orchestrion. Individual notes are represented by protruding metal pins or staple-like bridges. In a musical box, the barrel is made of thin (about 0.5mm) brass. The tapered pins of the musical program are driven tightly through the cylinder and additionally held in place with sealing cement.

cylinder music box: Music box, usually containing one or more tuned metal music combs, having the music programmed on a pinned metal (usually brass) cylinder. Popular during the 19th century. One of two main music box types, the other being the disc box.

cylinder separators: The discs, made of zinc or brass, located inside of a musical box cylinder to keep the cylinder in round.

cymbal: Plate-shaped metal disc, usually slightly concave, made of brass (stamped from a brass sheet, spun on a lathe, or wire-wound). Usually from 10" to 16" in diameter, although smaller cymbals are found in mechanical pianos. Large cymbals are usually called crash cymbals or Chinese crash cymbals. Small and medium-sized cymbals are struck by wooden (usually) or metal beaters; large ones, by wood or by felt-padded beaters. A popular device for accenting the rhythm in an orchestrion or organ. * German: Becken.