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.
– 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
– 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.