Playing a Street Organ For the First Time

Published by Jan Heaney on

Playing a Street Organ For the First Time

Welcome to Music Machine Mondays. In this episode I am going to try to play a big street organ myself. The organ is called the Drie Pruiken street organ. So here we’ve got an organ book that we can play in this. – A very big crank
– And a very big crank, yeah A very big wheel that we have to grind. You call this grinding the organ. Okay. You do it with one arm. So that when that one arm gets tired you can switch to the other arm. So a real organ grinder never grinds with two arms at the same time, and sometimes even when they change arms so they would go like this and when you change the other arm you would stand like this and they would go and do like . . . . a thingy
– Oh wow. Well I’m not a real organ grinder so I can’t do that, but you sometimes see them do that. Right now you’re building the music boxes with the automatic paper right? Yes. With automatically cut paper? I just wanted to show you this is an organ book that’s automatically cut. This is not . . . This is machine cut? Yeah, so this was also just a MIDI file and I made an organ book out of this – Oh
– And you can see the difference if I compare it to . . . If you hold this and I’ll grab a real one A hand cut organ book. You can see the difference – Also with the waxing stains here.
– Yeah
– You can see the waxing stains And, well, this is a bit more sloppy in a way and a lot of people who like street organs like this better because there’s a natural human approach to this and also a human error which which we like in music of course. This is also nice. We’re going to try this one. It’s pretty good. The reason that we don’t do the same as you with the revolutions per minute Is because you’ve got all these different organ books That have different tempos, so you couldn’t really do that. You couldn’t have one tempo for the organ that you need all the time – Okay
– That you have to play all the time You always have to grind the wheel at the same tempo no matter what organ book you play and the tempo is in the organ book. – So they put the holes closer together to have a faster song?
– To play faster song. And then you get into your muscular memory exactly so the whole evening you have the same tempo. Yeah, you’re always swinging it at the same tempo and and best thing is to not think about it.
– Okay And not trying to anticipate like oh, I’m gonna go slower or I’m gonna go faster. Just listen to it and And wonder if it’s okay, and if it’s not okay you go a bit faster or a bit slower But make it a long-term decision. That’s the thing.
– Because on my small music box with a crank. I have the same – Yeah
– And I usually, like, have a mantra in my brain and not listening to music like bread and water, bread and water, bread and water, but that sounded too rhythmical So I thinking of something completely different Yeah, yeah, yeah Thinking about the tree, thinking about the tree, thinking about the tree, thinking about the tree, something like that. You need to do exactly that when you do this Yeah, it’s the same with the music boxes. Okay, so we’re gonna try it for a bit – I’ll show you
– Yeah And then you can take over and try if you take over, do not let the wheel slow down. Because if the wheel goes still, the bellow — the air pump — empties, and that sounds like a cat is being smothered, like you say. – I would like to hear that though.
– Okay. Well, that sounds like this That’s that sound. That’s pretty horrible Okay, now we’re gonna try for real. Wow. It’s pretty good? Just a bit slower. – Ohhhhh!
– Should I go faster? – No a bit slower
– Slower?
– Teeny bit slower. So, now you can change to the other side. – Yooooh
– That’s fantastic! – So try to keep your shoulder aligned with it.
– But I was going too fast right? A bit. – Shoulder aligned?
– Shoulder aligned. So if you stand like this that’s okay? And if you switch to the other side, go like this. But I can’t switch to the right hand here? – You can, but this wheel is a bit too big for that
– Okay. It’s really much tighter when you play it. Yeah. You really get this feeling of swing actually. It’s experience. It took me half a year Yeah? To really get it down and be able to do it at all times and when I’ve not grinded the organ for a while for like three weeks, it takes some getting used to it again because every organ is different, also. That’s also a problem. Don’t feel bad. Okay. Can I try like a whole song? Yeah. Absolutely. I like this. You can see the drum here. Four minutes And this is I think it’s little strange that they don’t show this on the front side of the instrument. But this is what we want to see I think when we play but on the front side instrument is just front But I don’t want to show probably that there’s two. Aha. Ok. Back in the days people might have thought that was cheating. Of course it’s the only way to do it. The Drie Pruiken street organ was originally built in 1900 by Gavioli in Paris It was rebuilt into its present state in 1952 by Gijsbert Perlee in Amsterdam. The three figurines on the front most likely originated from a french Limone organ. Organ figurines fell out of fashion in the 1930s and the Pruiken was the first post World War II organ to feature the figurines. So after a quick lesson on how to grind an organ like this, I’m gonna try to play Adios Nonino, okay? Is it okay? Oh, you are sweating! I didn’t know it was core training! Wow! (from off camera) It was beautiful! You did so well! Thank you, We are very proud of you. Thanks for the lesson. Yeah sure. That’s so fun. Really out of breath! The strange kind of concentration also. Now you just feel “it’s slipping away from me it’s slipping away from me!” It’s slipping away from me all the time. I’m very impressed as you can play so tight on this thing. It’s like meditating. If you if you think about doing it wrong too much it doesn’t work. and as soon as you start doing it wrong you’ve got to think well, I’ll do it correct after this. It’s so funny because this is like with CNC machine or 3D printing. People think that you don’t have to do anything Oh, it’s a mechanical instrument. You don’t have to do anything. Well . . . . Ohhh! You have to do everything! You have to do everything! In the next episode we’re taking a look at another mechanical masterpiece Thanks to our friends at the Speelklok Museum, and thanks to you for watching.


Wintergatan · October 11, 2017 at 11:59 am

Hey Everyone, there will be no new WW Video Today, Wednesday October 11:th! We are very sorry for that, both me and Hannes have been indisposed for a week and we will get back to regular posting as soon as possible! Just wanted to let you all know why, and that we are back to normal soon, take care! Martin & Co

Duncan Mac · October 4, 2018 at 5:50 am

Looks like a lot of work. Thanks for the video.

Diggnuts · October 4, 2018 at 4:14 pm

God I hate these atrocious things. With their irritating flat flutes and those old men rattling their coin boxes like they are actually doing something. I wish it was forbidden to operate these infuriating racket machines in inner cities.

KindGottes92 · October 13, 2018 at 7:50 pm

I wonder if the force needed to play differs with the amount of notes being played simultaneously.

kairon156 · October 15, 2018 at 3:12 am

I wonder how small you can make something like this and still be visually pleasing.

Lucas Rodríguez · October 17, 2018 at 2:43 pm


Nathriel · October 17, 2018 at 2:54 pm

Wow… this is PRETTY freaking cool! Thank you! Gee I wonder how heavy that grind wheel is >.>

Michael · October 17, 2018 at 11:49 pm

What a delightful video! Thank you for sharing this experience with us.

Bert Van Den Eede · October 18, 2018 at 12:23 pm

De drie pruiken. 'ui' låter som ö.

Brian G · October 20, 2018 at 2:51 am

Go back with a recording of Thunderstruck!!

Nathan Sinclair · October 20, 2018 at 3:08 pm

At the start he looks like he hasn't slept for moths

Tyler whieler · October 20, 2018 at 5:48 pm

thats dutch, de drie pruiken means the tree wigs

Shadowkey392 · October 22, 2018 at 2:45 am


Tyson J Taylor · October 22, 2018 at 1:11 pm

I'd like to see a gearing mechanism that could be added to match the tempo of the music with the hand crank position. There could be a transmission with selectable gearing one could shift between for specified tempos. That way the grinder could match his swing rate to the music and grinding becomes akin to dancing.

RWBHere · October 23, 2018 at 7:32 pm

Welcome to the Club, and thanks for the video! Glad you enjoyed it. If you turn a little slower, you can keep going for much longer. Well done, Martin! Are you left-handed? Your left arm was definitely stronger than your right, on that day.

P.S. You've finally reminded me to subscribe. My sister did, years ago. 🙂

ScaVeZZaClave · October 25, 2018 at 9:19 pm

loving machine

supersmashdragon · October 25, 2018 at 11:24 pm

Please tell me there is a full video somewhere of the same organ playing the full song.

CerberusRAWR · October 26, 2018 at 12:05 am

"I'm Connor, the android sent by the Speelklok Museum."

Jason Hubbard · October 27, 2018 at 1:08 pm

The machine was a little short for your shoulder to be aligned with the center of the shaft, but that little guys arm was right in line with the shaft hence probably a lesser fatigue.
If your arm was aligned or there was more centrifugal forces it would be easier for the operating of the crank. :-). Sorry I'm a year and a few days late to the show.

Roland Deschain · October 29, 2018 at 4:39 am

This version of Adios Nonino sounds like a JRPG theme.

Michael Kmiotek · October 30, 2018 at 2:22 pm

The house on the rock in Wisconsin has a nice collection of automatic instruments.

Estlib · November 11, 2018 at 9:10 pm

imagine if you would pause a song on your mp3 player and it would bellow out like that xD

natalia meira · November 17, 2018 at 10:07 am

A Tango!, from Piazzola, one of the greatest of my country ( Adios Nonino, 1959) love it!

ToyFREAKS · November 20, 2018 at 8:19 am

Wonderful to watch! How did this affect your ideas about rhythm, tempo and interaction with a new instrument?

Milosnivok · December 1, 2018 at 1:02 am

Adiós Nonino!!!

Yeoh Zi Shen · December 5, 2018 at 11:39 am

It's been a year but anyone expected megalovia after YMCA?

Daniel Kays · December 23, 2018 at 9:18 am

I bet StarMachine2000 would sound awesome on that machine.

Quentin Jaxon · December 28, 2018 at 4:04 am

Can you program it to play Final Fantasy VI music?

vocalnerd · January 10, 2019 at 3:11 pm

Actually died when it started playing YMCA

Nicolae Florin Pașca · January 11, 2019 at 12:50 pm

this is good if you have to lose weight imagine if internet will only work if you spin a wheel like that lo

Thomas Lucas · January 13, 2019 at 4:19 am

I disagree with the curator. I am an american in california near los angeles. Wintergarten played the YMCA at the proper up-tempo up-scale sharp version which more closely represents the Village People's live appearances on television concerts and public appearances. This man is the master and being that Wintergarten played it the best.

Thomas Lucas · January 13, 2019 at 4:25 am

I just watched the YMCA original video. Even when wintergaten stepped it up it was slow. He is a musical genius, he knew and said and asked if he needed to increase the tempo. The museum curator was entirely mistaken in his playing of the song.

Sandra Braithwaite · January 16, 2019 at 12:38 am

have you not heard of the electric motor

Arthur Polmatier · January 21, 2019 at 4:07 am

Minecraft noteblock ymca

Toxic Gamer · February 14, 2019 at 2:14 am

Very cool shit. I somewat dislike the drum sounds though.

Michael Rahaman · February 15, 2019 at 4:52 pm

Is there any steam powered ones?

Marek Poláček · February 15, 2019 at 10:18 pm

We call it "flashinet" 🙂 It's essentially the same, a portable organ showcased on streets. Even today you may find some street artists with flashinet on a Charle's Bridge in Prague…

Hasitha Ekanayake · February 18, 2019 at 6:28 pm

What a masterpiece…

tortos tipicos · March 15, 2019 at 1:24 am

Don't die the classic machine music box

immrnoidall · March 19, 2019 at 6:04 am

it needs an air tank, with a regulated output, to pressurize with the wheel.

Jose Javier de Haro Alba · March 26, 2019 at 8:31 pm

Outro song?

Murray Campbell · March 28, 2019 at 10:18 am

I love that sound

Mr. Zimbel · March 29, 2019 at 1:20 pm

Steel production is down.
I say comrade!
You must sleep on the ground!

Lord Sandwich · March 31, 2019 at 9:48 am

8:47 reminds me of the Sootopolis City theme from Pokemon.

DatBlackDoge · April 3, 2019 at 7:02 am

i like the fact that even thou its not finished yet these guys give him deep insights into the organ. i would LOVE to visit this museum with my dogs and listen to the marble machine x one day :3

DatBlackDoge · April 3, 2019 at 7:04 am

btw: color grade the first few seconds of the video, wear worn out clothes and this is straight from a horror movie

DatBlackDoge · April 3, 2019 at 7:09 am


Crazy Beehive · April 6, 2019 at 4:28 am

Looks fun especially when using the drie pruiken cause it has a great history

Trace Henry · April 11, 2019 at 7:51 pm


Johni Kruger · April 13, 2019 at 8:06 pm

So, what do you do for a living?

I turn big wheels

Ribeye Robert D · April 19, 2019 at 6:40 pm

Greetings from America.
I thoroughly enjoyed your video.
Two grinders having fun and sharing.

CuriousMarc · April 25, 2019 at 6:40 am

What a beautiful sounding organ! In perfect tune, with very precise rendering. You are a quick learner too! Once I tried it and my tempo was all over the place. By the second try you already got it! You are a natural for mechanical music machines…

Adrian Hernandez · April 27, 2019 at 2:12 pm

How do I build this? I want to take it somewhere and just do this as a hobby

trumpsahead · April 29, 2019 at 8:16 pm

Wow, I watched every organ grinder and piano roll available. Very interesting. Always loved the piano roll players since I was a kid.

Thomas Dickson · May 1, 2019 at 3:19 pm

I must say I appreciate you and your other listeners. The overall tone of the comments and the conversations are actually constructive! You bring good vibes and I wish them to you as well. Keep it up Martin!

William J. · May 1, 2019 at 4:35 pm

This was so much fun to watch! Thank you!

Rudi Rüssel · May 1, 2019 at 10:01 pm

In the EU, YouTube soon will be down, so that we will be kicked back to old times when this was state of the art. So thats our future in EU.
Lucky rest of the world.

Nuraili De Paepe · May 15, 2019 at 3:02 pm

That pronunciation tho. "De drie perruuken"

ky · May 20, 2019 at 8:48 pm

Second song?

Waldo Raffin · May 22, 2019 at 5:43 pm

The song is "Adios Nonino" from Astor Piazolla… what a surprice ear it from that organ!

David Cook · May 25, 2019 at 1:56 am

Very cool

Dan K · May 25, 2019 at 4:16 pm

"Adiós Nonino" by Astor Piazzolla
(The accent in the pronunciation of "Nonino" is in the "ni")

For those who don't know this tango, it means "Farewell, grandpa"; but actually it was composed for his father who had passed away, nicknamed "Nonino".

Bird Kooistra · May 27, 2019 at 9:14 pm

This is so much fun watching & listening to mechanical historical instruments. Thank you so much for doing this for all of us to enjoy.

Concerned Commoner · May 31, 2019 at 10:42 am

What was the tune being played in the first 30 seconds of the video?

J.M.ヘススメヂナ · June 7, 2019 at 9:51 am

0:16 I wonder if they designed this in 1 month back in those years, all I could see move besides all the organ machinery was the baton of that figurine in the middle lmao, if Wintergatan could've been there in the past, this organ would have the full set orchestra of figurines playing real instruments because of perfectionism 😅👍

Fran Camara · June 9, 2019 at 6:50 pm

Un maestro Piazzola

Mustapha Müller · June 10, 2019 at 4:23 pm

boring to hell

connor jankowski · June 24, 2019 at 7:26 am


Gill T · July 2, 2019 at 1:34 am

Do Purple Haze man… 😉

DeadKoby · July 3, 2019 at 9:58 pm

I bet a street organ grinder looked like a weight lifter.

Philip Gerlach · July 20, 2019 at 2:18 pm

To the untrained eye,being an organ grinder seems easy It most certainly isn't. The grinding wheel has to be rotated at a constant speed or the music "warbles". And after a time,the muscles in your arm(s) soon start to get sore(!)

MI HOW? EK · July 21, 2019 at 5:50 pm

Night core maker 2.0

Sam Venskus · July 24, 2019 at 10:56 pm

In those first couple of seconds, he looks like he is just fed up with this shit, and is slowly dying inside

Marc-Andre Otis · July 26, 2019 at 12:56 am

The figurines look like Barbie dolls.

bread man · July 28, 2019 at 6:53 pm

why does it sound better than the original

Kaalo Lovett · August 9, 2019 at 4:53 pm

The handcut version sounded so much better.

tamarangi kereopa · August 12, 2019 at 9:35 am

8:06 to hear the best part

tamarangi kereopa · August 12, 2019 at 9:36 am

8:12 srry

ZerqTM · August 12, 2019 at 2:15 pm

lol i which you could replce the organ figurines for a construction worker one a cow boy one a indian one and a police office one lol
that would be funny with that song…

ZerqTM · August 12, 2019 at 2:19 pm

also damn it they should have those things in gyms lol X3

Albert Rieder · August 13, 2019 at 2:01 pm

This is no playing, its just turning a Crank. I am play a real Organ with may Hands and Foots

TRiG (Ireland) · August 13, 2019 at 10:33 pm

But where's the monkey?

Irishharper · August 17, 2019 at 6:44 pm

This was awesome…thanks…

Retro Plus · August 19, 2019 at 12:32 pm

This is basically mechanical midi, how intriguing!

Diggnuts · August 20, 2019 at 2:17 am

Realize that most people find these machines quite irritating and a nuisance. As they are not really traditionally Dutch but rather a fairly modern thing introduced from Belgium gypsys, most people hate the loud cacophony of these things polluting our town squares.

AmmielB · August 31, 2019 at 12:01 pm

De drie pruiken
Translation: the three wigs

vocalnerd · October 2, 2019 at 9:28 pm

I think they put the drum in the back just because it was too loud if you'd put it in the front.

Roy · October 6, 2019 at 10:01 pm

So old technology and pretty advance for back in the times.. it get me thinking

1BlackopsGuru · October 13, 2019 at 3:33 am

has this dude never heard ymca? jesus he won't listen to the guy when he says slow down

Jeff Baxter · October 15, 2019 at 2:16 pm

I love this stuff! Ek geniet die orrels en die musiek. Baie dankie uit Suid Afrika.👍

Lawrence Jin · October 17, 2019 at 1:13 am

This instrument kinda reminds me of the Starmachine 2000! Anyone else thinks so as well?

Chris Willow · October 20, 2019 at 10:45 am

I remember these . They were going out as I was growing up ! You know I think there is one of these in my home town in Australia somewhere ! Not sure but remember someone saying there was one derelict!

LimaVictor · November 2, 2019 at 11:18 am

Surprising how much little speed variations cause an inconsistant tempo!

Евгений Птица · November 3, 2019 at 5:02 am

Класно покрутил

hi there · November 7, 2019 at 12:33 pm

This version of ymca is really really good

Robert Johnson · November 24, 2019 at 6:14 pm

#streetorgan #danceorgan #orgel Fellow Music Enthusiasts, Wintergaten has a marvelous demonstration of a typical street organ, including the folded-paper 'books' which contained the 'programmed' music piece. For samples of many styles of this musical genre, please try Tom Gavioli's channel at:

J. K. · November 25, 2019 at 1:14 pm

Yes its not Really Easy. Its not the same as a Marble Machine.

The Armchair Spaceman · November 26, 2019 at 1:40 am

that tune's so gay i had to listen again. lol
It's a victorian era device.
gay only meant happy back then –
which says a lot about how sad mr and mrs forcibly-normal were back in the day when ''happy'' became an insult for homosexual folk. heh?

the crew Gagliardi · December 6, 2019 at 2:27 pm

You where in Holland my country

the crew Gagliardi · December 9, 2019 at 5:06 pm

I say young man theres no need tho be … young man……l yo

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