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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vacuum level: Intensity of suction, not quantity of air movement. The opposite of air pressure.

vacuum motor: Suction-operated motor used for turning music rolls, or rarely for other devices. * Synonyms: air motor, wind motor.

vacuum pump: Pump, usually containing bellows and a crankshaft, which supplies suction to operate a pneumatic system.

valve: Device which controls the flow of air. Usually operated by a pouch, pneumatic, key or other mechanism.

valve chest: Box containing a set of valves, pouches, and associated parts of a pneumatic mechanism.

variations box: Cylinder music box with finely-spaced teeth, programmed to play intricate, lengthy variations on a theme.

veneer: A thin sheet of wood glued to various cabinet parts. The stronger, but plainer-looking core wood is invariably first covered with "cross banding" glued at right angles to its grain, and then the cross banding is covered with fancy veneer with the grain running parallel to the core. This sandwich greatly strengthens a cabinet against cracking and warping. Marquetry consists of small pieces of veneer of various grain patterns and colors inlaid flush into the surface of the surrounding veneer to create various designs, borders, etc.

vent: See bleed.

verifying: See justifying.

vibrato: A rapid, repetitive change in pitch used by musicians for imparting more warmth or emotion to music. A vibrato effect is achieved in the Mills Violano-Virtuoso by shaking the tail piece, and in the Hupfeld Phonoliszt-Violina by acting on the string tension. In organs, the effect is achieved by shaking the wind supply. See also tremolo.

vibratone pipe: A jazz flute pipe (also listed in this Glossary) with a thin diaphragm of metal, plastic, or other substance mounted in a circular hole in the front of the pipe. When the pipe sounds, the diaphragm resonates and produces a buzzing kazoo-like sound. Usually fitted with a jazz tremolo mechanism. * Synonyms: vibraton, vibraphone.

Viennese flute: Orchestral flute (also listed in this Glossary).

viola da gamba pipe: Pipe organ string-toned rank of delicate tone, imitative of the stringed instrument from which it derives its name.

viola pipe: Organ pipe of 8' or 16' pitch, imitative of the orchestral viola; somewhat smoother sounding than the violin pipe.

violin: Treble-pitched 4-stringed instrument played with a rosined horsehair bow. The two commercially successful automatically-played violins were the Hupfeld Phonoliszt-Violina and the Mills Violano-Virtuoso.

violin celeste pipes: Two or more ranks of violin pipe ranks tuned to celeste. * Synonyms: vox celeste, voix celeste.

violin pipe: Flue pipe of raspy violin-like quality popularly used in coin pianos, orchestrions, and organs. The tone quality is regulated by a distinctive-appearing harmonic brake (also listed in this Glossary). Bass range violin pipes are called cello or violoncello pipes, middle range pipes are called violas, and treble range pipes are called violin pipes.

violoncello pipe: See cello pipe.

voicing: 1. The process by which the tone quality of the pipe is regulated (as opposed to tuning, which regulates the pitch). Techniques include adjusting the shape of the tone-producing mouth of a flue pipe, cutting small nicks into the mouth, regulating the shape of the reed in a reed pipe, adjusting the size of the toe hole where air enters the pipe, and others. 2. The process by which the hardness of a felt piano hammer head is adjusted or regulated. Techniques include reshaping the hammer by sanding, pricking the felt with sharp needles, applying chemicals to harden or soften the felt, and others. 3. Term used to describe the loudness, softness, or the harmonic or tone quality of a pipe. For example, calliope whistles have very loud

voix celeste: French term for vox celeste pipes.

Vorsetzer: A German-origin term which is generally used by collectors today. 1. An electrically-operated (usually) cabinet-style player containing a reproducing mechanism which uses reproducing piano rolls. The cabinet is equipped with felt-covered "fingers" and is pushed up to the keyboard of a piano. The fingers and corresponding pedal mechanisms then automatically play the keyboard and pedals of the piano. Vorsetzer = sitter-in-front-of, in German. Vorsetzers with reproducing mechanisrns were made by Hupfeld, Welte, and others. (This definition, vorsetzer with a reproducing mechanism, is the one generally used by collectors today.) 2. Any push-up piano player or device, often foot-pumped, which is placed in front of a piano or organ keyboard to play it. * Synonyms: piano player, push-up piano player.

vox celeste box: Cylinder music box with reed organ section tuned to produce a celeste or chorus effect.

vox celeste pipes: Two ranks of violin pipes tuned in celeste commonly found in the countermelody section of dance organs and large street organs, tuned an octave above the other countermelody ranks. They frequently provide long sustained chords, serving the musical function of backup singers in a popular vocal group. * Synonym: voix celeste.

vox humana pipe: Reed pipe rank, usually with a capped metal resonator. Literally, "human voice." Used in photoplayers and many pipe organs, especially theatre organs.