Today Elrik Merlin presents a varied programme of music from, on, and sometimes by, machines. And we mean musical machines in the broadest sense, from glass harmonicas, Victorian musical boxes and the mighty Symphonion, to steam organs, pianolas and barrel
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Mechanical Music Hall

in Daily Programme

by Elrik Merlin on Wednesday, 7 December, 2011

Post image for Mechanical Music Hall

Today Elrik Merlin presents a varied programme of music from, on, and sometimes by, machines.

And we mean musical machines in the broadest sense, from glass harmonicas, Victorian musical boxes and the mighty Symphonion, to steam organs, pianolas and barrel pianos on the one hand, but touching the capabilities of early computers and synthesisers on the other.

We will be featuring a wide collection of piano rolls from the early 1920s, along with some of the music that would have been heard in the bars and speakeasies of the period, on instruments like the Wurlitzer Organette (which combined organ pipes with a player piano).

However, despite the inclusion of some music from electronic instruments, this is not really a programme of classic electronica — although there is some — and a fair amount of the material is in a fairly traditional vein, including recordings of mechanical instruments of the Victorian era that might have been heard in the parlour, public house or at the fairground. There are, however, good examples of classic(al) synth performances from Isao Tomita and Wendy Carlos, including some narrative descriptions of the latter’s early experiments with the medium and the more recent Switched-On Bach 2000.

On a (much) lighter note there are electronic pieces in a Victorian style from Magnatune artist Professor Armchair, and fairly recent electronic whimsy from Jean-Jacques Perrey, long-time collaborator with Gershon Kingsley on some of the earliest synthesiser albums 40 years ago (yes, it’s really that long).

There is also some of the first “computer music” ever recorded, created by programming an IBM 7090 and including a rendition of Daisy, Daisy that was the inspiration for the piece appearing in Stanley Kubrick’s film 2001.

Pictured: the Telharmonium, shown in Telharmonium Hall in 1897: possibly the world’s first electronic instrument. No recordings exist. Image from Wikipedia.

Today’s programme is presented by Elrik Merlin and produced by Radio Riel in conjunction with our friends at the Alexandrian Free Library Consortium of Second Life. You can listen to the programme in-world now at http://main.radioriel.org, or simply click here to start your player, if your browser is configured to do so. Listeners in the United States are encouraged to tune in using this link: http://loudcity.com/stations/radio-riel/tune_in

For more information on the Alexandrian Free Library, current exhibits and the work of Consortium members in general, please visit the Alexandrian Free Library website, or one of their branches in-world.

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