Star Wars Lego “Barrel Organ”

The more I read about sound histories (thanks to J. Sterne, E. Thompson, H. Schwartz, S. Douglas and sooo many others now) the more I am fascinated by the Mechanical age of sound production, pre-analogue transduction, pre-digital of course. This definite Steampunk-type aesthetic but more than that, a completely transparent process of production, where mechanics alone, intricate mechanics are at the core of the miracle of sound, has been simply delightful to learn about. I never fancied or glorified the phonograph, possibly because I grew up with the gramophone, it’s younger cousin, and it is so normalized to me. But the more I think of the actual technology – the inscribing, etching in the pattern of sound vibration into hard material, and aplifying it via a horn perfected to mimic parts of the human ear, the more fascinated I am.

As such, the notion of music boxes, these mechanical wonders, rotating intricate patterns that produce musical tones with clockwork precision but entirely mechanistically, is an intriguing one. I’m not alone obviously. After an earlier post I had about a paper music box project, this one is a worthy follow-up, even though it employs midi. A truly nerd-gasmic invention that has me tipping my hat even though I’m not even a Star Wars fan.

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