100 Year Old Self-Playing Violin – “The Eighth Wonder Of the World”


What is this? Well this is a orchestrion, and it has two different instruments Maybe you can guess them it feels like a piano you are correct, so we have a piano over here Actually the most special instrument of this orchestrion are those three violins The first time I visited this Speelklok museum my brain caught fire on that very day the idea to build a mechanical instrument took form 16 months later we released the Marble Machine video The Marble Machine was a viral success, but a mechanical failure We started to build the much more engineered and improved Marble Machine X This meant retirement for the first machine I asked Speelklok if they were interested and the perfect circle was completed when the machine was Exhibitioned at the very place that gave me the inspiration to build it When I was back of this Speelklok to install the machine I was again amazed by the Mind-blowing mechanical masterpieces there in this series I want to share that experience with you and show you some of my favorite music instruments from the collection of the Speelklok Museum In this episode we’re looking at the Phonoliszt Violina, an Orchestrion with self playing violins. This is actually I think one of the most famous instrument of the company of Hupfeld so the first one was actually built around 1910 and it was presented at the world exhibition in Brussels and normally the doors would be closed so actually the people who listened to it had no idea what was going on inside the cabinet and They would call it the eighth wonder of the world. Because they could listen to self playing violin music with actual violins. So not organ pipes that imitate the violin sound but actual violins. This round thing must be the bow then. Yes, exactly so this is the bow and it can turn around and there are 1300 horse hairs in there, so it took quite some time to make this bow. And it turned around and sometimes it turns around a bit faster to create more volume and sometimes a bit slower to create less volume and Normally if a human being is playing the violin you would press the bow against the strings But here it is the other way around because the violin is pressed against the bow with just a little bit of air So when you have to play, they’re just pressed to against the bow. And then when you want to pause they retract again? Exactly yeah, and you can see three violins and they each have four strings Just like regular violins, but the only one string for violin is actually used and it’s a different string on each violin So together they have like the reach of just one violin, actually. And they are played by these mechanical fingers and they have little pieces of cork underneath to imitate the human fingertips a little bit To make it sound more organic. Yes. The Phonoliszt Violina Orchestrial is built 1914 by Ludwig hupfeld in Leipzig. For a long time the ultimate goal for mechanical instrument makers was to build self playing violin. It was the holy grail of mechanical music and many makers doubted if it even could be done. Although Leonardo da Vinci made sketches of a viola organista he never built one. But the Hupfeld company achieved the seemingly impossible and when the violina was premiered at the 1910 world exhibition in Brussels it was advertised as the eighth wonder of the world. On a slightly personal note here if I manage to get the Marble Machine X to be able to play live in front of an audience on a world tour I think I will have to borrow that idea from Hupfeld and advertise the Marble Machine as the ninth Wonder of the world. Instruments like these sometimes they used to play in the cinema, because the movies were silent back in those days. So they let start one paper roll and after one paper roll is finished they would start the next one. That’s a little bit different what we’re going to do on the Marble Machine X. Because we are gonna have two sections on the programming wheels so you can have song, a, song one and then quite fast change to song two and then while song two is playing change to song three and so on. Yeah, I’m going to play for you we’re going to listen to the pianist and the violin. Fantastic. In the next episode we’re taking a look at another mechanical masterpiece. Thanks to our friends at Speelklok Museum and thanks to you for watching.