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.
Tasten: German term for keys on a piano or organ keyboard, or metal keys in an organ key frame.
Trommel: German term for drum.
tabatier (French): Tobacco holder or snuff box.
takeup spool: In a roll-operated instrument, the powered cylinder to which the end tab of the roll is affixed. The take-up spool pulls the roll over the tracker bar.
tambourine: Wooden hoop inset with small metal discs or jingles which rattle when the instrument is shaken, often with a drum head attached to one side. A popular addition to orchestrions, photoplayers, etc.
temperament: 1. Term denoting a system of tuning in which the various intervals are tempered or adjusted. The errors inherent in the chromatic scale of twelve half-steps are distributed among the intervals in such a way that each interval has a small error but none sounds offensive. 2. Loosely, that group of 13 or more notes in a piano, organ, or tuned percussion instrument which is first tempered during the tuning procedure. From this group of notes all other notes are tuned, directly or indirectly.
temple blocks: Tuned gourd-like hollow blocks, usually with a horizontal slit at the end, used as percussion effects in certain dance organs. Usually seen in sets of three or four. * Dutch: koppen.
tempo regulator: Manually-set device which regulates the speed of a music cylinder, disc, barrel, or paper roll. Sometimes connected to a governor (also listed in this Glossary). In the Duo-Art Concertola roll changer, the tempo of each roll is punched into the leader according to a simple code, and the Concertola mechanism automatically sets the speed. * Synonym: speed control.
tenor: High bass notes, approximately in the octave immediately below middle C. Frequently used for countermelody parts or to reinforce the melody.
tenor drum: Small drum, usually under 12" diameter, without snares. (Compare to bass drum.)
theatre organ: Pipe organ made for accompanying silent films, or for entertainment between films, in a movie theatre or cinema. Loudly-voiced (usually with 15" and 25" pressure for certain pipe ranks) and contained in one or more swell chambers for volume control. Contains pipes imitative of orchestra instruments. Contains tibia pipes as a main foundation rank. Unified control system by means of which functions assigned to a particular keyboard or manual can be shifted to another by means of pneumatic or electrical connections, and for this reason sometimes called a unit organ or unit orchestra (the latter being a Wurlitzer trademark: Wurlitzer Hope-Jones Unit Orchestra). Usually with a horseshoe-shaped console. * British synonym: cinema organ.
theme: 1. The subject part of a musical composition; the main melody (as opposed to the accompaniment or countermelody). 2. Mechanism in Duo-Art and other reproducing, expression, and player pianos which accents a note or chord.
tibia clausa pipe: Huge-scale stopped flute pipe having almost no harmonics. Used widely in theatre organs.
tibia pipe: In a church organ, an open wood 8' flute pipe. In a theatre organ, a large scale stopped flute considered to be a foundation rank.
tongue: A vibrating reed or, less common, a tooth in a tuned comb.
tooth: 1. Tuned tine or projection, usually made of hardened steel, used to sound a note in a music comb. 2. Projection in a gear (toothed drive wheel).
touche: French term for key.
tracker bar: In a roll-operated instrument the wood or metal bar containing a series of spaced openings through which air passes in order to actuate a pneumatic mechanism (or to directly sound a note, in the case of paper-as-a-valve organettes). * Synonyms: tracker board (term rarely used), keyless frame (in fairground organ and dance organ terminology only; mainly European usage).
tracker bar layout,: tracker bar scale. Diagram or listing of the function of each hole in a tracker bar.
tracking mechanism: Device in a roll frame which keeps the music roll centered and aligned with the holes in the tracker bar by shifting the supply spool (most common), both spools, or the tracker bar. * Synonym: automatic tracking mechanism.
transpose: To shift music into a higher or lower key without making any other changes.
transposing device: Device which enables the tracker bar, especially of a piano, to shift laterally for up to several notes so as to transpose the music arrangement to a higher or lower range for use in accompanying a singer. The sustaining pedal hole in many tracker bars is several perforations wide, or is located in a separate stationary part of the bar, permitting automatic sustain to work when the music is played in several different keys. Not used in instruments with other control perforations in the tracker bar, because transposing the tracker bar would confuse the controls (exception: some very late Duo-Art reproducing pianos in which only the note-playing portion of the tracker bar shifts).
trapwork: Term denoting non-tuned percussion instruments and sound effects in a large orchestrion or dance organ. * Synonym: traps. * German: Schlagwerk
treble: The upper range of the musical scale (as opposed to bass). * German: diskant.
tremolo: 1. In orchestral music, the rapid reiteration of the same note played by quickly reversing the bow on violins and other stringed instruments. 2. In pipe organs, mainly theatre organs, repeatedly varying the pitch and loudness of the pipes by shaking the wind supply in imitation of vibrato. 3. In dance organs, General Tremolo rapidly interrupts the wind supply to provide rapidly-repeated notes, and Jazz Tremolo rapidly shakes the wind supply to imitate the vibrato of clarinets and saxophones in 1940s dance bands. In orchestrions, tremolo is used synonymously with vibrato. 4. The mechanism used for producing vibrato or tremolo in an organ or orchestrion.
tremulant: The mechanism for producing tremolo (also listed in this Glossary).
trestle: See comb base
triangle: Round steel bar bent into a triangular shape. The ends are close but do not touch. Suspended from a cord and sounded with a metal striker, producing a high-pitched "ting" sound. Widely used in automatic instruments.
trombone pipe: Brightly-voiced reed pipe made of wood or metal. Mainly used in fairground organs, sometimes as the bass part of a trumpet rank. Imitative of the trombone sound. * Synonyms: bombardon, posaune.
trumpet pipe: In a fairground organ, a brightly-voiced reed pipe, made of wood or metal (usually brass), imitative of a trumpet. Usually used in combination with a bass rank of trombone pipes.
tubular chimes: See chimes.
tune card: Card with list of tunes giving the program of a music box, coin piano, orchestrion, etc. * Synonym: program card.
tune indicator: Pointer arm, numbered dial, or other device which indicates the number of a tune being played on a cylinder music box, coin piano, or other instrument.
tune selector: Device found in certain coin pianos and orchestrions that enables the patron to select a desired tune by turning a dial or knob, or by dropping a coin in one of several numbered slots. Selectors of several different types were offered by Hupfeld, Cremona, and Western Electric as options. All National Automatic Music Co. pianos included a selector as a standard feature.
tuning weights: The lead weights attached to the underside of the teeth on a musical box comb, especially in the bass section, causing them to vibrate more slowly and thus sound a lower note. Also, the adjustable weights in the Mills Violano that are affixed to leverage arms to keep the strings in tune.
tympani: Kettle drum, or in an orchestrion or organ, kettle drum effect made by smaller beaters on a bass drum. Contemporary spelling is "timpani," but during the golden age of automatic musical instruments, "tympani" was more popular and is used throughout this book. * German: Pauke, Pauken