Mechanical Music Through the Ages

A collection of Mechanical Music and Arcade Machines – highlighting examples of the development in mechanical entertainment over time.

Cylinder Music Boxes

As a form of domestic entertainment music boxes were one of the first formats enabling mechanical recorded music to be played in the home. Unlike music recorded on record, CD or a digital format and replayed, the music in the music box is played acoustically, activating devices or instruments within the music box to make the sound, with the rotating cylinder plucking the music comb/s which was amplified by a sound board in the music box. The better the quality of components the sweeter the music that was produced. However, the intention of having music in the home is still the same, when live musicians are not available. It is convenient and there is a choice of music that can be played, assuming the music box can play multiple tunes. Some larger music boxes were more suited for public entertainment rather than exclusively used for domestic entertainment. Overtime, they evolved to incorporate accompaniment in the form of tuned bells, drums, castanets, small reed organs and automata.