Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Aether Salon: Music Boxes!

Sunday was the monthly Aether Salon, in New Babbage. Sister was feeling under the weather, so she asked me to attend in her stead. The subject was Music Boxes, with featured guest Miss Canolli Capalini.

Miss Jed Dagger introduced the Salon...

...while Miss Viv Trafalgar introduced the speaker. Miss Trafalgar, it transpired, is a music box collector. One could not help but feel this month's topic was very special to her.

Miss Capalini noted that, while the music box as we think of it is a 19th century invention, there had been efforts to "capture" music over the centuries.

"[P]rior to the 18th century, there were, of course, many musical inventions, dating all the way back to antiquity. Most notably, Heron of Alexandria. He didn't make music boxes that played music, but created inventions that mimicked the calls of birds.. the whispers and sighs of maidens, heraldic trumpets enough to fool the mind into believing they were hearing wisps of music upon the air. In the 9th century in Persia, two brothers made a set of automatic organs that played continuously driven by water."

Below, Miss Verlia Bilavio, Dame Ordinal Malaprop (in background), and Miss Stargirl MacBain.

Miss Capalini noted that the modern [19th century] music box "produces sounds by the use of a set of pins placed on a revolving cylinder or disc so as to pluck the tuned teeth of a steel comb. They were developed from musical snuff boxes of the 18th century and called carillons à musique. Some of the more complex boxes also have a tiny drum and small bells, in addition to the metal comb. Note that the tone of a musical box is unlike that of any musical instrument."

Below, Miss Maribelle Bronet, Miss Ceejay Writer, and Miss Rowan Derryth.

She observed that it was the Swiss who perfected the music box, using skills developed in watch-making. However, the age of the music box was not long-lived, as Mr. Edison's phonograph largely rendered such boxes obsolete.

Below, I sit between Miss Saffia Widdershins and Mr. Marion Questi. Behind us stand Mr. Jasper Kiergarten and Miss Bookworm Hienrichs.

Miss Capalini then showed some of her creations, including this music box custom-ordered for a wedding; it played Etta James' "At Last."

This was an early creation, and has a clock mechanism as well as a music mechanism.

Note the spiderweb in the upper right hand corner and the spider in the lower right hand corner of this exquisite box:

I listen intently.

Next month's Salon will feature a return of Mr. Hotspur O'Toole.

1 comment:

Steve and Sandra said...

This is a cool article, you are very descriptive. . . good job!