W0045. OFFENBACH - HOMMAGE MECHANIQUE, featuring enchanting mechanical music-box renditions from Orphée aux Enfers, La Diva, La Chatte Metamorphosée en Femme, Le Papillon, La Chanson de Fortunio, La Belle Hélène, Barbe-Bleue, La Vie Parisienne, La Grande Duchesse de Gérolstein, L'Ile de Tulipatan, Le Roi Carotte, Fantasio, La Jolie Parfumeuse, Bagatelle, Madam l'Archiduc, Le Voyage dans la Lune, Le Docteur Ox, La Marocaine, La Fille du Tambour-Major, Les Contes d'Hoffmann & Offenbachiana. (France) 2-Malibran 214, transfers of great clarity from music-box disks created between 1880 and 1900, accompanied by a noteworthy 23pp booklet. [Utter joy and laughter in this enchanting and delightful music-box program - not to be missed if you have any sense of humor! Once the listening has begun, you'll be hard-pressed to stop it; its inherent charm is infectious!!!] Specially priced at 2 CDs for the price of 1. - 7600003772145
"Mechanical music is the first attempt at musical recording. Mechanical music was popular before the phonographic era when it was possible to listen to music only with a pianist or by going to a concert in a theatre or at a municipal bandstand. Man was already seeking to record music in order to spread it more widely.
Not having the ability to preserve the sounds of the actual performances, their first efforts were directed towards the automation of the instruments themselves. We find the beginnings of mechanical music in the bell towers of churches with automatic carillons from about 1490. A cylinder covered with pins controlled the mechanism of the instrument, carillons and organs were the first instruments to be equipped in this way. Café pianos and barrel organs used this system over a long period.
The second époque came in in the middle of the nineteenth century when Jacquard invented the loom that bears his name which used perforated cards to reproduce series of simple motifs. In an adapted form this system was used from then onwards for the fair ground organs (Limaire, Gavioli, Gasparini, Marenghi) and mechanical pianos (pianolas). These musical devices - cards, discs and cylinders - are all that remains of music dismissed as 'genre' music (waltzes, polkas). Of course opéra, opéra-comique and operetta are much in evidence, whether individual arias of suites of dances (quadrilles, waltzes and polkas) and Offenbach was not excluded. Quite on the contrary. Works that enjoyed a short career (like LA DIVA) were diffused by this method and these cards or cylinders constitute not merely the only recordings that we possess of them today but also are the oldest and the nearest to Offenbach. We add to them some modern arrangements realised in this tradition in order to hear other works of this composer that remain little-known.
A feature of these instruments is that they often do not possess a full range of the notes of the scale, reflecting a problem of over-complication; it was necessary to make as much music as possible while remaining as transportable and as convenient as possible. Thus the perforated cards or the cylinders in the earlier instruments had to be arranged so that the reproduction remained as faithful as possible to the original score, which sometimes constituted a veritable tour-de-force. On the most limited instruments, the 24 touch Thibouville and the Ariston (24 notes) the arrangements are sometimes more difficult to realize, resulting from time to time in some approximations in the melody and harmony. These were the difficulties that led to the creation of instruments with 27 notes, which, being chromatic on an entire octave, enabled greater flexibility for the arranger.
The invention of the phonograph and the development of electric recording between the wars resulted in the disappearance of these automatic instruments. Though the marginalisation of these instruments came about through the recording disc, today the disc allows us once again to hear recordings of the earlier mechanical type."
"A music box or musical box is an automatic musical instrument that produces sounds by the use of a set of pins placed on a revolving cylinder or disc so as to pluck the tuned teeth (or lamellae) of a steel comb. They were developed from musical snuff boxes of the 18th century and called 'carillons musique'. Some of the more complex boxes also have a tiny drum and/or small bells, in addition to the metal comb. For most of the 19th century, the bulk of music box production was concentrated in Switzerland, building upon a strong watchmaking tradition. The first music box factory was opened there in 1815 by Recordon and Samuel Junod. There were also a few manufacturers in Bohemia and Germany. By the end of the 19th century, some of the European makers had opened factories in the United States. Collectors prize surviving music boxes from the 19th century and the early 20th century as well as new music boxes being made today in several countries."