Wednesday, April 27, 2011

London Barrel Organ


This was 10p in a charity shop so could hardly pass it up. Turns out to be pretty much what I expected and a nostalgic reminder of what the buskers of Victorian London must have sounded like - monkey with tin cup and all!

Wikipedia says -

"A barrel organ (or roller organ) is a mechanical musical instrument consisting of bellows and one or more ranks of pipes housed in a case, usually of wood, and often highly decorated. The basic principle is the same as a traditional pipe organ, but rather than being played by an organist, the barrel organ is activated either by a person turning a crank, or by clockwork driven by weights or springs. The pieces of music are encoded onto wooden barrels (or cylinders), which are analogous to the keyboard of the traditional pipe organ.

The pieces of music (or tunes) are encoded onto the barrel using metal pins and staples. Pins are used for short notes, and staples of varying lengths for longer notes. Each barrel usually carried several different tunes. Pinning such barrels was something of an art form, and the quality of the music produced by a barrel organ is largely a function of the quality of its pinning. This complex encoding of music was an early form of programming.
The organ barrels must be sturdy to maintain precise alignment over time, since they play the same programming role as music rolls and have to endure significant mechanical strain. Damage to the barrel, such as warpage, would have a direct (and usually detrimental) effect on the music produced.
The size of the barrel will depend on the number of notes in the organ and the length of the tune to be played. The more notes, the longer the barrel. The longer the tune, the greater the diameter.
Since the music is hard-coded onto the barrel, the only way for a barrel organ to play a different set of tunes is to replace the barrel with another one. While not a difficult operation, barrels are unwieldy and expensive, so many organ grinders only have one barrel for their instrument."

Tracks on side one are -

1. I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside
2. Don't Dilly Dally
3. The Honeysuckle & The Bee
4. Wouldn't It Be Loverly
5. Run Rabbit Run
6. That Old Fashioned Mother Of Mine
7. God Bless The Prince Of Wales

London Barrel Organ - Side One

2 comments:

Timbo said...

Any chance of side 2 appearing soon?
I used to have this LP as a kid, I would stick it on my pifco suitcase record player and play Roses Of Picardy at 16rpm - Why? god only knows...

As for a lot of the other uploads I have generally enjoyed a lot of them, used to live next to Brick Lane before it went upmarket so I can imagine you buying half the vinyl on this site. I can also remember the old blokes with suitcases of porn and the blankets with one shoe, a broken lamp and two cassettes for sale.

wastedpapiers said...

I will see what I can do Timbo as you are an old Brick Lane stalwart. I lived in a pre-fab in Stepney courtesy of the ACME Housing Ass. and used to enjoy m Brick Lane and Cheshire Street meanderings each Sunday. I did buy 75% of this blog there probably!