This site is dedicated to the Mechanical Music and in particular to the crank organs, usually defined as "Busker Organs"
There are differents ways to approach the wonderful world of the mechanical musical instruments:
There are collectors who are looking for vintage gear on the flee or antiques markets, those who simply desire to own one by buying it new or used, those who collect CDs with the music of the old organs, those who utilize the instrument as a job performing on the road or on shows, those who after getting an old malfunctioning instrument are keen to restore it and then some fool ones that decide to self build the crank organ.
I belong to this last category. Over my life I built many musical instruments, from electronic drum machines to digital pianos, MIDI masterkeyboards and then Washtub bass, and a W.C.waterbox MIDI interface (Cessofono MIDI in italian)!
My hobby has always been the study of musical instruments and started in the 60' when the first transistorized electronic organs appeared on the market. Since then I have been following all the evolution of the electronic musical instruments which are more and more merging with the computer music.
Nevertheless I also very much like the traditional acoustic instruments and, in particular way, since some years, I am so fashinated by mechanical organs to the point I decided to build one on my own.
However, as in my DNA there are always both electronics and informatic, my approach to the world of mechanic music has been speeded up through the findings of precious information via Internet that many enthusiastic people make available on their experiences.
Also, thanks to many PC programs, the activities of music orchestration and the preparation of paper rolls or carton books for punching to feed the organ is made very easy.
To dedicate yourself to the mechanical music does not means to forget the electronic, instead, from the merge of different technologies new advantages can crop up, let see for example the MIDI Standard.
No doubt the big turn for the wedding among electronic musical instruments and computer music took place in 1983 with the introduction of the MIDI Standard which, as a recognised worldwide standard, is always actual.
In effect, this is the reason why I insist on this subject, the MIDI system is more and more utilized also for the mechanical music instruments, thus contributing to their revival.It allows to extract complex harmonic textures, even remaining discretely hidden, both by replacing the bulky and expensive music rolls and simplifying the pneumatic driving systems of the pipes of the organ.
This site is dedicated to all those that, like me, are attracted by the crank organs and are willing to know more about them, possibly to have some purchasing or self construction guidelines.
I do not intend to teach, but simply as many other fans are doing, to make available some of the experiences made in this field, to offer at least a beginner's guide!
This task is primarily assigned to the italian version of my site. In fact, even if Italy is known as the country of music, and in the specific field of mechanical music many italians gave important contributions to the developments of this technology, it seems that today a lot of know-how is generally available on foreign sites.In many other countries in fact crank organ manufacturers and many self constructors are available.
Unfortunately in Italy it is not the same, even if we have renowned restorers and some excellent artisans, there are not real factories which are instead mainly concentrated in countries as Germany, France, UK, Holland and USA.
I have however proudly to inform that in Italy there is an association grouping the mechanical music amateurs: the name is AMMI (associazione Musica Meccanica Italiana), based in Cesena, which since some years is conquering more and more recognition and affiliates thanks to the very interesting events that are organised periodically in various italian locations.
You may find all the info on AMMI on their site: www.ammi-mm.it