Many of us have fond memories of venturing into our grandmother’s home and finding beautiful music boxes that we wound up, opened and listened as tinny classical music escaped from tiny mechanical organs inside the box. While these boxes produced beautiful memories, the music itself was something to be desired. Times have changed and so has the music. “MusicMachine” is a music box that looks and sounds out of this world. It contains all the traditional, time-honoured elements of a superlative high-end music box, but designed and configured in a totally unconventional way.
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Music boxes first appeared in the early 19th century, Switzerland, the home of fine watchmaking and became the center of high-quality music box production. In 1865, Charles Reuge, a pioneer in the field, set up his first musical pocket-watch shop in Sainte-Croix, Switzerland. Nearly 150 years later, REUGE is the premier manufacturer of high-end music boxes on the planet and is still based in Sainte-Croix.
Mechanical Music boxes produce melodies by way of tuned teeth on a steel comb being plucked by pins on a revolving cylinder. Music box movements share many similarities with their horological counterparts, both technically and aesthetically: Energy derived from a coiled spring is transferred by a gear train and the unwinding speed is carefully regulated. High-end music box components are even finely finished similar to high-end watch movements.
This futuristic MusicMachine is a collaboration between REUGE and MB&F. REUGE, the premier manufacturer of music boxes on the planet, with nearly 150 years of expertise nd experience. And MB&F, the award-winning artistic and micro-engineering laboratory acclaimed for its avant-garde, three-dimensional Horological Machines.
With its dual propellers and twin silver cylinders mounted on sleek outrigger landing gear, MusicMachine looks like a spaceship hailing from a galaxy far, far away. Each of the cylinders on MusicMachine plays the tunes, “May the Force Be With You” with the ‘Star Wars’ theme, ‘Imperial March’ from ‘The Empire Strikes Back’, and the theme from ‘Star Trek’. Other tunes include, Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall”, Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water”’ and John Lennon’s ”Imagine”.
Working out these two groups of three arrangements, each one limited to between 25 and 45 seconds, and the multitude of notes that these entail (some notes are used by all three melodies; some notes are exclusive to just one melody) represents a considerable technical and artistic achievement in which the musician’s brain, sense of expression and emotional dexterity top any computer.
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One of the biggest challenges for REUGE was respecting the mechanical symmetry of MB&F’s design, and it meant breaking with a few music box conventions to achieve it. MusicMachine actually has two independent movements, each comprising: winding propeller; mainspring barrel (looking like a piston under the propeller); horizontal cylinder with pins creating three melodies; and vertical comb with individual hand-tuned teeth sounding each note. When music is playing, the speed that the cylinder unwinds at is governed by an air regulator in the form of a circular fan outside each propeller-topped, piston-shaped mainspring barrel.
While it would have been much easier to duplicate the two movements and just change the melodies, MB&F’s original concept called for perfect symmetry and if the movements were identical, the comb on one cylinder would not be on the outside. So REUGE took the unprecedented step of configuring the two movements as mirror images of one another, which meant completely inverting the design of the movement components and architecture.
MusicMachine is awe-inspiring to look at and beautiful to listen to.
MusicMachine is a limited edition of 66 pieces: 33 pieces in white and 33 pieces in black.