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date: 14 November 2019

Lap organ [melodeon, rocking melodeon, elbow melodeon, teeter]locked

  • Darcy Kuronen


[melodeon, rocking melodeon, elbow melodeon, teeter]

Small type of reed organ developed and manufactured in the north-eastern USA during the second quarter of the 19th century. The shallow rectangular case (about 47 to 57 cm long) holding the keys, pallet valves, and reeds sits atop double-wedge bellows, the lower portion a feeder and the upper portion a reservoir. Most examples have two rows of button keys encompassing three to four octaves; some later models have a piano-style keyboard. With the instrument resting on a table or the player’s lap, the pressure-system bellows are pumped by pressing down on the left end of the case with the left forearm while playing with both hands; a double leaf spring inside returns the feeder to its open position when the forearm is lifted. Hand-operated, sliding panels over the reeds serve as a swell device.

The lap organ was invented by James A. Bazin of Canton, Massachusetts, who made the first such instrument in ...

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