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Non-Synthetic Synthesizer

Piano keys wired to mechanical instruments
  [vote for,

I'm surprised this wasn't already on HB; the closest thing was "Violano." This would be easiest to do with a xylophone-type instrument, just replace the strings with little wooden slats or chimes, but I feel like it could be done with just about any instrument. It just wouldn't be that hard to set up a guitar with six little pressure pads at every fret and six little picks, all of which could be electronically synchronized with the keys. (Trumpet-style brass might not work just because it would be really hard to manufacture mechanical lips with the sort of subtlety needed.) It couldn't capture the nuances of most instruments just because of the on/off nature of piano keys, and unlike regular synths you couldn't play two notes simultaneously that would have been played on the same string (e.g. on a violin you could play a maximum of four notes at once and they'd all have to come from separate strings.) I just think it's worth it for the Rube Goldberg factor alone.
Wisconsin, Feb 13 2005

Orchestrion http://members.aol.com/cotps/i263.htm
[Shz, Feb 13 2005]

Orchestrion w/ keyboard http://www.museemechanique.org/5.html
[Shz, Feb 13 2005]

Orchestrion Phonoliszt Violina http://www.aida.net/str6.htm
Nice! 4 violins at once! [Shz, Feb 13 2005]

Some info on the 4 violin contraption http://mayhem-chaos...chives/2004_05.html
(scroll down) [Shz, Feb 13 2005]

Sailor's Nickelodeon http://www.sailor-m...com/nickelodeon.htm
A glass of champagne, anyone? [angel, Feb 13 2005]


       How does this differ from a theater organ?
supercat, Feb 13 2005

       Having googled, it looks like theater organs just play a few unconventional varieties of compressed-air pipes. Tell me if I'm wrong. I guess I was going after something you could watch playing an actual instrument mechanically.
Wisconsin, Feb 13 2005

       "Pull out all the Stops" and keep looking!
gnomethang, Feb 13 2005

       Theater organs also use pneumatics to play pitched and unpitched percussion instruments, pianos, harpsichords, etc. Not sure about whether any keyboard-operated theater organs do any bowed-string or fretted-string instruments, though roll-operated instruments of such types exist.
supercat, Feb 13 2005

       Orchestrions, though not seen much anymore, play all sorts of instruments mechanically, together as an orchestra. There’s a very impressive one at Clark’s Trading Post in Lincoln, New Hampshire that the public can play, should anyone happen to swing by that neighborhood (bliss? waugs? anyone?). All the inner workings are visible through a glass (front and sides) case.   

       I don't know of one with instrument(s) played via keys, though. They read scrolls similar to those used in player pianos.
Shz, Feb 13 2005

       I'm reminded of the Nickelodeon used by Sailor in the 70s.
[A bit later] And still used now (linky).
angel, Feb 13 2005

       Ok, WKTE, in one way or another, [MFD], but I don't have the heart. If a moderator is up to it...
Wisconsin, Feb 13 2005

       I don't know if you ever saw the Piano-Mate, made by DuBreq (the Stylophone people). It was a box which you positioned over the keys of a piano (or other keyboard instrument), and consisted of a row of switches which were actuated when the corresponding key was pressed. The output was used to drive a dedicated electronic organ.
Sailor's Nickelodeon used several of these on each piano, as well as other custom-built devices.
<old fogey>We had it rough before there was MIDI.</of>
angel, Feb 13 2005

       Wisconsin, go see the House on the Rock. It's near the Dells in your home state. You'll see more of these than you'd ever want.
RayfordSteele, Feb 15 2005


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