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Durward R. Center and Arthur W.J.G. Ord-Hume

A mechanical organ (known as “fairground organ” in Europe) used to provide music for merry-go-rounds and in amusement parks, circuses, and skating rinks in Europe and the United States. The instrument originated in Europe as an outdoor version of the Orchestrion, voiced to sound above the hurly-burly of the fairground. Initially it was put near the entrance in order to attract attention. It was usually built in an elaborately carved and colorfully painted case which sometimes incorporated moving figures in its façade. All but the very largest instruments were designed to be portable, robust enough to travel around the country on rough roads. With the coming of bioscope (moving picture) theatres, the organ sometimes became the front of the show-tent, its façade incorporating entry and exit doors....

Article

James H. Cook

An organ installed in a public performance hall. Owing to their intended use, concert organs stand apart from church organs on one hand and residence organs on the other. Such organs were common in the 1920s and 1930s, less so in the years following World War II. A late-twentieth-century resurgence of interest has produced some outstanding examples, including those in the Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas (Fisk ...

Article

David H. Fox and David L. Junchen

A type of pipe organ built between 1911 and 1940 specifically for the accompaniment of silent films and the performance of popular music in the magnificent movie palaces that arose during the first four decades of the 20th century. Used at first to substitute for the house orchestra during breaks, the theater organ eventually superseded the orchestra, for a single organist could improvise a more flexible accompaniment to the action on the screen. In the United States the term “theater organ” is preferred; in the UK “cinema organ” is used. Many characteristics of the theater organ can be traced to innovations in organs built between ...

Article

Barbara Owen

The term used in America for the specialized organ designed to accompany and provide sound-effects for silent films during the 1920s and 30s ( see Cinema organ ).

Article

Douglas Leedy and Charles Corey

Systems of organization of the pitch scale. Such systems are either “just” or “tempered.” Just systems consist entirely of pure intervals, and though literal transposition of patterns or scales may be very limited, other musically useful symmetries are available. Tempered systems are those in which the purity of some or all intervals is deliberately compromised in order to render other intervals less impure, and thus increase the number of musically serviceable intervals. Over the course of centuries countless tunings and temperaments have been proposed, but few have been of practical importance; of these, 12-tone equal temperament has become the standard in Western music since the 19th century....

Article

J. Richard Haefer

Five-stringed small guitar of Mexico. Commonly known as the vihuela, it is played in the mariachi ensemble as a harmony and rhythm instrument, and should not be confused with the Spanish vihuela de mano. It has a loud, crisp, rapid-decay sound. The soundbox is typically 39 cm long with a 29 cm maximum width, a 28 cm neck with four to six movable nylon frets, and 50 cm string length. The maximum depth of the sides is 10.5 cm plus an additional 6 cm depth to the apex of the vaulted, angled back. Wooden pegs inserted from the rear of the pegboard are traditional but nowadays most vihuelas have mechanical tuners. The tuning is ...