Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Incendiary instruments

Welcome to my nightmare. One of my continuing feverish obsessions is with, what, old stuff? Old stuff connected to music, to musical instruments. . . to mechanical instruments, which fascinate me most of all. These were built to amuse the very rich in the days long before any sort of recording existed, and far exceeded the music box in out-of-tune-ness and general detestibility. But it is this that makes me love them so.

I would have included automatons, but I couldn't find any, which appalled me because I know hundreds of such videos exist. I can't find anything at all under "automatons" any more because it's now the name of some game or TV series or something, but I'm fascinated with them too because they combine music with jerky, macabre movements. Something weird going on here, too, because all of these instruments seem to be on fire, or about to put out a fire (the rackett at the top looks quite a bit like a medieval fire extinguisher) - the open-air calliope, designed for an old-fashioned riverboat, looks more like a giant out-of-control gas barbecue, and the bottom one, well. I guess we could call it steampunk. The awful camera work is for effect, I assume. These instruments were designed for old-fashioned circus wagons and were definitely made to be heard outdoors, at as great a distance as possible.

I shouldn't do it, I tell myself - stay up so late, get so engrossed - and find so many odd things, it's quite unbelievable.

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