Constantly repeating. The repetition or repeated striking of a single note by means of a special mechanical or pneumatic action built for this purpose or by means of closely-spaced holes in a music roll or music book. When an extended hole appears in the music roll (or when a staple-like bridge pin occurs in a pinned cylinder arrangement) the reiterating action will constantly repeat the note until the perforation has ended. * Synonym: repeating.

reproducing piano

Automatically-played piano which, by means of special rolls, re-enacts a recording artist’s performance, including different levels of intensity (independently controlled for bass and treble sections of the keyboard) in addition to the musical notes and the pedal action. Distinguished from an expression (or semi-reproducing) piano by having multiple intensity levels. Rolls, called reproducing piano rolls or artists’ rolls, are made from master rolls produced on a special recording piano which, with the help of a talented music editor, captures the nuances, idiosyncrasies of techniques, and the attack of the performing pianist The result is a very realistic performance when a reproducing piano is properly restored and regulated. Reproducing pianos were made in upright, grand, spinet, and cabinet (keyboardless) styles. Leading types produced c. 1905-1930 were Ampico, Duo-Art, and Welte-Mignon. Certain large orchestrions (e.g., the Hupfeld Pan Orchestra) incorporated reproducing type mechanisms. * Synonyms (used years ago, not by collectors today): artistic piano, re-enacting piano, master-playing piano, recording piano, reperforming piano. Note: In original advertising such terms as "artistic" and "uses artists’ rolls" were often used to describe regular (non-reproducing) types of automatic pianos.

reproducing pipe organ

Pipe organ which uses rolls recorded by organists and incorporating expression effects. The Aeolian Duo-Art Organ and the Welte Philharmonic Organ are examples.


Spring-loaded bellows for storing or for storing and regulating the wind supply from a pressure pump or the suction supply from a vacuum pump.

residence organ

Pipe organ made for residential use, often softly voiced.


The wooden or brass body of an organ pipe. Misnomer for tuning weights in musical boxes.


1. Rewind (also listed in this Glossary). 2. In twin-tracker instruments (such as the Nelson-Wiggen Selector Duplex Organ and the Empress Twin Tracker Solo Expression Piano) in which a double-wide roll has half the tunes perforated in one direction and the other half in the opposite direction, reverse actuates the mechanism which reverses the direction of the roll after the tunes on one side are finished, and switches over to the other half of the tracker bar.

revolver box

Cylinder music box with three or more cylinders affixed to end plates which are mounted on a common shaft, in a "Ferris wheel" arrangement. The cylinders, each of which has several tunes on it, can be changed by rotating the entire assembly so that another cylinder is brought into playing position.

rewind roll

Standard and most-used type of paper roll for pianos, organs, and orchestrions. Wound on a spool. The end tab of the roll is attached to a take-up spool, which pulls the roll over a tracker bar as it plays. When the performance ends, the roll is rewound on the original spool. When rewinding is completed, the same performance can be heard again, or the roll can be exchanged with another. See endless roll.


When a rewind roll reaches the end of the playing notes, a special rewind (or reroll) perforation causes the roll frame to shift to the rewind position. The pneumatic mechanisms which actuate the playing notes are disengaged so that no notes will be played while the roll is rewinding. Rewinding is done at high speed. When the leader of the roll reaches the tracker bar, a rewind-to-play hole in the tracker bar (or, in some instruments, a mechanical device fitted to the take-up spool) actuates a mechanism which shifts the roll frame from rewind to forward. The roll is then ready to play another performance or to be taken from the instrument. * Synonym: reverse. * Dutch: terugspoelen. * French: retour. * German: Rückrollen, zurück, zurückrollen.


In a dance organ, a term synonymous with maraca (also listed in this Glossary).

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.


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.


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 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).


A small case, sometimes in the shape of a piano or other elegant form, with such "necessary" items as scissors, thread, needles, etc. Many also have a miniature musical movement.


1. An early theatre, mainly circa 1903-1914, which charged 5 cents admission. Nickelodeon = nickel + odeon (the Greek word for theatre). * Synonym: nickelodeon theatre. 2. Term used to describe a coin-operated piano, orchestrion, or similar instrument. (Modern usage; never used by the manufacturers. Such instruments originally were called electric pianos, orchestrions, etc. The nickelodeon term has become very popular and is in wide use among collectors and the public today.)

oboe pipe

Brightly-voiced reed pipe with a conical metal resonator. Used as a solo rank in certain large orchestrions or as a solo and ensemble stop in pipe organs.


1. A musical interval of eight notes. Every note has exactly double the number of vibrations per second of its corresponding note an octave lower and half the vibrations of its corresponding note an octave higher. 2. Term popularly used to describe thirteen equally-tuned half steps including the notes at each end (i.e., C to C, the twelve-toned equal temperament scale into which the octave is divided on the piano and in most pipe ranks). Sometimes called the chromatic scale. In original catalogs (e.g., Operators Piano Co. description of Coinola percussion) and in popular usage today a "two octave" set of xylophone bars would mean a 24-note chromatic set, for example. As noted, the 13-step terminology is also often used, especially in describing pipe ranks. 3. A 4′ pipe organ rank of flute or diapason tone. For example, Welte identified the 4′ flute rank in many orchestrions the "octave."

orchestra bells 1

Bar-type bells (See bells). 2. In a theatre organ, bar-type bells played with a reiterating or repeating action. (When the same bells are played with a single-stroke action they are called glockenspiel in organ terminology.)

orchestra box

Cylinder music box with added effects, usually saucer bells, a small drum, a wood block or castanet, and a reed organ section. Most were made in Switzerland. Mainly popular c. 1880-1895.


Self-contained automatic musical instrument, esp. a large one, equipped with several different instruments in imitation of an orchestra. Usually contains some percussion effects (e.g., drums, cymbal, triangle, etc.). Main types include: 1. Barrel orchestrion: with piano and/or pipes and percussion. Made for indoor use. Popular during the 19th century. 2. Keyboard piano orchestrion: built around an upright piano; with one or more chromatically-scaled extra instruments (e.g., a rank of violin or flute pipes, a xylophone, a set of bells) and with percussion effects. Paper-roll operated. Popular during the early 20th century. 3. Large keyboardless piano orchestrion: contains a piano, several (usually) ranks of pipes, and many other effects, some of which are arranged to play solo melodies. Paper-roll operated. Popular during the early 20th century. 4. Small cabinet-style orchestrion: small cabinet, usually smaller than an upright piano, containing an abbreviated-scale piano, one or more chromatically-tuned extra instruments, and percussion effects. Popular during the 1920s, especially in America (e.g., Seeburg KT, KT Special, etc.). * Synonyms for types 2-4: automatic orchestra, orchestra piano. Other uses of the orchestrion term (instruments which were designated as orchestrions by the original manufacturers, but which collectors today consider as part of other series) include the following: 5. Disc-operated piano of limited scale, sometimes with percussion effects (e.g., disc pianos made by Lochmann, Polyphon, and Symphonion). 6. Large disc music box, usually with 10 or 12 bells. 7. Mechanical (not pneumatic) piano of limited scale, plus percussion effects. Operated by a heavy manila paper roll (e.g., Regina Sublima Piano and related Polyphon products). 8. Barrel piano with limited percussion effects. 9. Mechanical zither or dulcimer (e.g., the so-called Piano Orchestrion, also sold as the Piano Melodico). 10. Paper-roll organette (e.g., Orchestrion Harmonette). Instruments listed from 5 through 10 are not considered to be orchestrions by collectors today. The term orchestrion was applied to many other non-orchestrion instruments over the years.


Generally, an instrument which produces music by means of tuned pipes or reeds. Among automatic musical instruments the following main types are found: 1. Organette: small hand-cranked instrument which plays tuned reeds, or rarely, pipes. 2. Player reed organ: large instrument, usually equipped with a keyboard, which plays tuned reeds. 3. Player pipe organ: large pipe organ, usually equipped with one or more keyboards or manuals, designed for providing music in a church, theatre, or residence. Usually not self-contained, but built in as part of a building. With paper-roll player built into the console or into a separate cabinet. 4. Portable hand-cranked barrel5. Band organ or fairground organ with loudly-voiced pipes and ornate (usually) front. 6. Street organ or pierement: loudly-voiced instrument mainly used in the streets of Holland. 7. Dance organ: not as loud as a fairground organ, usually with ornate facade and of very large size, used in dance halls, especially in Belgium and Holland. 8. Calliope: with a limited scale of flue pipes, played with extremely high wind pressure. 9. Serinette: hand-cranked softly-voiced scale of flute pipes; a popular parlor instrument of the 18th and 19th centuries. 10. Any attachment consisting of one or more ranks of pipes or sets of reeds attached to another instrument. * Dutch, German: Orgel. * French: orgue.


Small hand-cranked (usually) reed organ, without keyboard. * Synonyms (used circa 1880-1900, not used by collectors today except to describe specific instruments): organetta, organina, orguinette, and other terms intended to designate "little organ."


. Sometimes called mandoline basse, because the rapidly repeating notes of the "mandoline" format are extended into the bass section of the comb of a musical box to give sustained low tones, and the overall tonal scale of the program is generally pitched an octave lower to take advantage of this feature.

overture box

A cylinder musical box with cylinders 3" or larger in diameter. Very finely made and pre-1880, containing overtures of operatic selections. In some boxes one air was pinned to play in two revolutions of the cylinder. Most played only two, three or four airs.

pallet valve

Small piece of wood, hinged at one end and faced with soft leather, used to cover an opening in a pipe chest, reservoir, or other pneumatic apparatus. Turns the flow of air (to an organ pipe, pneumatic, or other device) on and off when actuated.


German term for tympani.


A metal finger with a pointed end that engages with a ratchet gear and holds the power in check. Sometimes called a "click".


1. A foot-actuated lever. (The term foot pedal is redundant; pedal is sufficient.) See soft pedal, sustaining2. The division of a pipe organ containing large bass pipe ranks (together with auxiliary smaller ranks) and controlled by the pedal board (a series of levers in the shape of a large keyboard played by the feet).

percussion, percussion effects

Tonal effects produced by striking a device, usually of fixed pitch or tonal character (as opposed to tunable piano strings, etc.). Two types: 1. Tuned percussion with a series of units, each tuned to a corresponding note in a piano or organ scale. Examples: xylophone, orchestra bells, chimes. 2. Non-tuned percussion such as a cymbal, bass drum, snare drum, tambourine, tenor drum, triangle, wood block, etc., which have no specific pitch. In automatic musical instrument terminology, tuned percussion are usually listed individually. Non-tuned types are often grouped together as "percussion" or "drum and trap effects."


A hole in a music roll, music book, disc, etc. Perforations are arranged in a manner to produce a musical performance when used on an automatic musical instrument. Perforator: a machine which produces perforations, especially in a music roll.


Automatic musical instrument, usually consisting of a keyboard piano with one or two attached side chests containing pipes, percussion instruments, and novelty sound effects. Usually with a single or duplex roll mechanism built into the piano case above the keyboard. Used to provide music and sound effects to accompany silent motion pictures. American and Wurlitzer photoplayers, for example, are illustrated in the present volume.


German term for small upright piano.

piano action

The devices or connecting links, hammers, and related hardware between the keyboard and the strings of a piano; the piano hammers and their actuating devices.

piano roll

Perforated paper roll used to operate a piano player, player piano, expression piano, or reproducing piano.

piano-forte box

A type of cylinder music box usually with two combs, a louder comb and a softer comb, providing expression to the music. * Synonym: forte-piano box.

piano-pipe organ

Name sometimes given to a piano with ranks of pipes, usually one full rank and one partial rank, built into the same case (e.g., Reproduco, Nelson-Wiggen Selector Duplex Organ, Seeburg Style MO ). Used in theatres and mortuaries in the 1915-1930 years. Theatre instruments were voiced loudly; those made for mortuaries were usually voiced very softly.

piano 1

Italian term for soft. 2. The stringed keyboard instrument. The related German word klavier variously means piano (the musical instrument) or keyboard.


1. Aeolian Company brand name for push-up piano players and player pianos. 2. Generic name for any player piano, also listed in this Glossary.

pièce à oiseau (French)

A large cylinder musical box with one or more mechanical birds on display. The birds are made to move and to "sing" in harmony with the pinned cylinder.

piccolo pipe

1. Pipe rank in orchestrions and band organs; similar in appearance to a wooden flute pipe and used in the top one or two treble octaves of the musical scale. 2. In orchestrions the name sometimes given to the upper range of a rank of flute pipes. (A rank of flutes is sometimes elaborately described as being a rank of "bourdon, flute, and piccolo" pipes, bourdon and piccolo referring to the lower and upper ranges.) 3. In band organs, a metal pipe, usually of polished brass, which is blown transversely (across the bottom of the pipe, rather than into the pipe) at high pressure. Usually with a wooden acorn-shaped plug at the top of the pipe. 4. In theatre pipe organs, a 2′ stop of brightly-voiced wood or metal flute pipes.

piccolo wood block

A small, high-pitched wood block used in certain orchestrions such as late Style Coinola X and SO. Tonally similar to clavés also listed in this Glossary.

piccolo 1

An adjective (from Italian) meaning small. A piccolo flute is a little flute, a piccolo wood block is a little wood block, etc. (Terminology rarely used by collectors today.) 2. A coin piano or orchestrion (slang; 1920s rural southern United States usage).


Dutch street organ. (Term originally used only in Holland; now used by some collectors in other parts of the world.)

piffaro (piffero) pipe

In dance organs a term occasionally used to describe a piccolo-like rank. (From a generic Italian term for instruments such as the fife, bagpipe, and others used by shepherds.)

harmonic flute pipe

Pipe, usually wooden, used in orchestrions, photoplayers, and organs. The harmonic flute is open at the top and has a small hole at the nodal point (of the sound wave) about at the center of the front or back of the pipe. This hole causes the pipe to speak an octave higher than it normally would, more promptly and with greater tonal stability. A harmonic flute pipe is not quite as loud as the equivalent piccolo pipe that is half as long. Used in many types of instruments; certain Seeburg coin pianos and orchestrions have harmonic flutes, for example.


1. Reed organ, usually pressure operated. In Europe the designation harmonium is preferred to the American designation reed organ. 2. One or more sets of organ reeds used as an accompaniment or even a solo voice in certain photoplayers, orchestrions, and other automatic musical instruments. Usually each rank of reeds is assigned the name of an organ pipe rank such as cello, diapason, clarinet, French horn, oboe, etc.

harp effect

Term used by Hupfeld, Philipps, and other coin piano and orchestrion manufacturers to designate a regular curtain-like mandolin attachment in an electric piano or orchestrion. Hupfeld used this device (called Harfe Illusion) in its Pepita and Pan orchestrions, and the reiterating Mandolin mechanism (Mandolinen-Illusion) in its Helios orchestrions.


1. Instrument with its strings arranged vertically in an approximately triangular-shaped frame. Played by plucking the strings. The Wurlitzer Automatic Harp (made by Whitlock) was popular during the early 20th century. 2. Metal plate or frame which bears the tension of the strings in a piano. Correctly called a piano plate. 3. Large scale marimba struck with dense felt hammers. Used in pipe organs, particularly theatre and residence organs.

height wheel

In a disc musical box, the small, flat discs positioned in the starwheel gantry that maintain the correct height of the tune disc, allowing it to pluck the star wheels properly.

helicoidal 1

Descriptive of the arrangement of pins in a barrel-operated instrument, with the pins arranged in a continuous helix. The barrel continuously shifts sideways as it turns, keeping the keys aligned with the key frame. In this way a long selection (sometimes comprising six or more revolutions of the barrel) may be played without interruption. 2. Helicoidal music box: a cylinder music box with the cylinder pinned in a helicoidal manner instead of the usual manner which requires the cylinder to be shifted in successive steps. In a semi-helicoidal music box, the cylinder is pinned diagonally only at the normal shifting area, permitting music to be pinned across the shifting gap which is normally silent.

hi-hat cymbal

A double cymbal; two cymbals spaced apart with the faces parallel. Used in certain instruments of the 1920s and later, including the Hupfeld Sinfonie Jazz and many dance organs. * Synonyms: double cymbal, pedal cymbal, Charleston cymbal. * Dutch: hi-hat, dubbel bekken. * German: doppel Becken.

hold-down arm

 1. The bar which holds the disc against the star wheels in a disc musical box. The bar holds the roller or idler wheels which apply direct pressure to the disc. Synonyms: pressure bar, idler arm. 2. In a piano, it holds the strings in position between the tuning pins and the agraffes on the upper plate bridge.

hooked teeth

Found in early cylinder box combs to allow for rapid plucking of the teeth. They improved the action of the dampers by allowing the damper to curl in and under the tooth.


1. A lute-like instrument with small keys, in which the strings are actuated by contact with a rotating rosin-coated wheel. Two open strings play all the time in the same manner as the drone of a bagpipe. * French: vielle * Medieval Latin: organistrum. 2. Popular usage: barrel-operated street piano or organ. This incorrect usage probably originated from the hurdy-gurdy, street piano and organ all being instruments used by street musicians and played by turning a crank.


An instrument in which sound is produced by means of resonant metal, wood or glass. This can be a musical comb, free reeds or chimes.

inner player

Term used circa 1900-1910 to describe a home player piano of the type with the pneumatic mechanisms built into the case (in contrast to the earlier push-up piano player type). Term not generally used by collectors today; inner-players are simply referred to as player pianos.

instant stop

On early musical movements, ca. 1820-60. A lever that acts upon the governor and permits the repairman to stop the mechanism at once to allow for critical adjustments.

intensity level

The degree of suction in a pneumatic action, esp. a reproducing piano action, in which there are many different intensity levels to vary the force with which the piano hammers strike the strings.

interchangeable cylinder box

A type of cylinder box that incorporates toggles or latches that permit cylinders to be removed and replaced with relative ease.

jazz cymbal

In the Hupfeld Pan Orchestra (and possibly other orchestrions) an effect produced by a small reiterating metal rod which strikes near the edge of the crash cymbal. * German: Beckenwirble.

jazz flute pipe

In dance organs, a stopped flute pipe or chimney flute with a special tremulant, consisting of a pallet covering the outside opening of a small hole drilled in the back of the pipe, opposite the mouth. When a jazz tremolo (or vibrato) effect is desired, the pallet opens and closes rapidly while the pipe is being sounded in the normal manner. The opening and closing of the hole causes a pronounced and rapid vibrato. See vibratone (a related pipe).


The alignment of each pin on the cylinder of a musical box so that it plucks the tooth tip in the precise manner required for a particular song. Synonym: verifying.

kettle drum

In an automatic musical instrument (especially a piano orchestrion) an effect obtained by alternately striking two small beaters to the left and right of the larger bass drum beater on a bass drum head. The term, which should be "kettle drum effect," as no separate drum is used, is found widely in orchestrion literature-nearly all of Seeburg’s descriptions of large orchestrions and photoplayers, for example. * Synonyms: tympani, timpani.

key frame

Device mainly used on fairground organs and dance organs but used on many other types of instruments as well. Contains a series of spring-loaded brass or steel levers. When one end of a lever pops up through a hole in a cardboard music book (also listed in this Glossary), the other end of the lever or key opens an aperture which actuates a pneumatic action. The folding cardboard music book is pulled through the key frame by rubber pinch rollers. A durable system capable of withstanding rugged use; one which is resistant to humidity changes. For these reasons most very large fairground organs and dance organs of European manufacture use the key frame system. (Compare to keyless frame.)

key-wind box

A cylinder music box, usually of the early or mid 19th century, in which the mainspring is wound by a detachable key (as opposed to lever-wind, also listed in this Glossary). Late cylinder boxes with more powerful spring motors, which are wound externally, usually use a crank rather than a key, and thus are not key-wind boxes.


1. Finger-operated control lever used to sound a note on a keyboard instrument such as a piano, organ, or accordion. 2. Musical pitch of an instrument or music arrangement (e.g., the key of C). 3. Actuating levers, usually made of brass, used to operate organ reeds (as in a cylinder music box with reed organ attachment), organ pipes (such as in a large barrel orchestrion), or a pneumatic system (as in the key frame of a fairground organ). 4. Key(s): the number of playing notes plus the number of control stops (for changing registers, stopping the instrument at the end of a song, rewinding the roll, etc.) on an automatic musical instrument, especially a dance organ or fairground organ (such as 89-key Gavioli organ, 101-key Mortier organ, etc.). * French: touche * German: Tasten, Tonstufen.


A set of keys or levers, arranged in order of ascending pitch, which enables a piano or organ to be played by hand. * Synonym (in pipe organ nomenclature): manual. * In German, Klavier, which also refers to the piano (the keyboard instrument).


Term used to describe a piano or organ without a keyboard. * Synonym: cabinet style.

keyless frame

In a fairground organ or dance organ a music system which used paper rolls or cardboard music books and a tracker bar, rather than a key frame with spring-loaded metal keys. Such instruments are sometimes called keyless. (Term mainly used in Europe.)


1. German term for an upright or vertical piano, usually of medium or large size (term never used to describe a grand piano, which is Flugel in German). A small-sized upright piano is sometimes called a Pianino in German nomenclature. 2. Keyboard (also listed in this Glossary).

laminated comb

In a cylinder musical box, a comb arranged vertically and comprised of individual teeth stacked upon each other and played by a vertically-mounted cylinder. Usually found in early watches, musical waxing seals, etc. Incorrect usage: describing a sectional comb.


1. Roll leader: the very beginning of a music roll on which the tune title(s), tempo, and other information is printed and to which the end tab (also listed in this Glossary) is affixed. 2. Band leader (also listed in this Glossary).


A sustained tone. In a legato passage of music, each note is held until the next note begins.

lever-wind box

Cylinder music box, usually of the mid or late 19th century, wound by a permanently-attached lever with a ratchet escapement. (Compare to key-wind.)

light(ing) effects

Decorative electrical effects such as blinking lights, moving lights, wonder lights, motion picture scenes, and other illuminated devices used in coin pianos, orchestrions, organs, and other instruments to create attention and to attract the public. See motion picture scene, wonder light.