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date: 13 December 2019

Barrel organ [hand organ, cylinder organ, street organ, grinder organ, hurdy-gurdy] (Fr. orgue à manivelle, orgue de Barbarie; Ger. Drehorgel, Leierkasten, Walzenorgel; It. organetto a manovella, organo tedesco)locked

  • Lyndesay G. Langwill
  • , revised by Arthur W.J.G. Ord-Hume

Extract

[hand organ, cylinder organ, street organ, grinder organ, hurdy-gurdy] (Fr. orgue à manivelle, orgue de Barbarie; Ger. Drehorgel, Leierkasten, Walzenorgel; It. organetto a manovella, organo tedesco)

Mechanical instrument in which the musical programme is represented by projections on the surface of a slowly rotating barrel or cylinder. In its common form, the barrel organ comprises a small pipe organ offering 14 notes or more in a non-chromatic scale and one to four stops or registers controlled by drawstops. To save space and expense, tunes were frequently pinned in only two or three keys, G and D being usual. The music is provided by a pinned wooden barrel arranged horizontally within the organ case and rotated by a worm gear on a cross-shaft extending outside the case and terminating in a crank handle. This cross-shaft also carries one or (usually) two offset bearings like a crankshaft and to these are attached reciprocators that pass to the lower part of the case where a simple bellows and reservoir is provided. Turning the crank pumps wind into the windchest and turns the barrel. As the barrel rotates, its circumference passes beneath a frame containing pivoted levers or ‘keys’. These keys engage with the barrel pins and are lifted by them. The lifting motion causes the rear end of the key to be depressed, pushing down a slender wooden sticker which enters the windchest and controls the pallet to allow wind from the reservoir to enter a particular pipe. In all respects, other than the replacement of a manual keyboard by the mechanical keyframe and the barrel, the barrel organ mechanism is merely a simplification of the conventional mechanical-action pipe organ. Besides pipework, some instruments also include percussion in the form of a drum with two beaters, and a triangle. Rarely, an abbreviated octave of bells is added. That some instruments remain in playing order after 150 or 200 years, with little or no repair work, demonstrates the practical design and durability of the basic organ components....

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Early Music