Here is a 1920s-vintage Hugo Popper ‘Happy Jazzband’ Orchestrion Welt-Piano Konzertist, made in Leipzig, Germany. They were created by adding a ‘jazz band percussion effect’ top cabinet to a Welt coin piano model. The instrument plays music from 88 note or 88 hole rolls, of an identical size to Arburo rolls, and in addition to the piano, has percussion and trap effects such as muted cymbal, snare drum, triangle and wood block.
What makes these Popper Orchestrions outstanding is the attention to detail of ensuring the percussion effects are expressive – that is for example, rather than a simple pneumatic beating a drum, the beater has its distance from the drum altered continuously according to holes in the roll, by means of a separate expression pneumatic. The resulting music is therefore very much less mechanical than in many orchestrions.
Here this Popper Orchestrion plays a tune called ‘Am Rüdesheimer Schloss steht eine Linde’ (Blues von Erich Ziegler) – the title translating to ‘At Rüdesheimer Castle stands a Linden tree’.
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