The Powerful History of the Music Box and How It Operates

The Powerful History of the Music Box and How It Operates

There are lots of questions that people ask about the prominent music box.

Do you seek to know the history of the music box thus how the music box came about and how it works? Then you are at the right place.

What is a Music Box?


A music box is an automatic musical instrument in a box that creates musical notes by utilizing a set of pins put on a revolving cylinder or disc to pluck the tuned teeth (or lamellae) of a steel comb.

history of the music box
The Powerful History of the Music Box and How It Operates

Formerly, people used large bells to tell time before cellphones, telephones, and even clocks with dials.
These bells influenced two German inventors to place a minor of them and tiny hammers into a watch to create the first automatic musical clock.
This technique led to the first audio instrument that people could listen to in their homes: the music box (Americans) or the musical box (British).

It is believed that the first music box was invented in Switzerland in the 1770s. Ultimately, music box makers developed a flat disc to play the music. Player pianos and phonographs by the early 20th Century gradually replaced commercial music boxes.

The Music Box melody is programmed on a rotating metal cylinder with projecting pins that pluck the individual prongs of a steel comb.

Parts of the Music Box

Cylinder
The cylinder is a rotating part of the device where the tunes are engraved on using metal pins. It is mostly made of brass.

Lever
The grip is used to thread the mainspring.

How comb of a music box works

The comb of a music box with sameweight
The Powerful History of the Music Box and How It Operates
The Powerful History of the Music Box and How It Operates
The Powerful History of the Music Box and How It Operates

The comb is a fragment of steel with multiple teeth. Each tooth is a note. The teeth are like saw blades; longer blades create lower musical notes, and shorter blades create higher notes when plucked.

Also, the teeth have different thicknesses that facilitate each tooth’s production of varying frequency ranges.

If you hold a music box in your hand, it’s not very loud, but if you place it in a hollow container, it is much more audible and richer. The vibrations of the comb get transferred through the metal base into the container, where they resonate. This resonance amplifies the sound. Also, if you rest the music box gently against your teeth, the music will resonate inside your skull. So, the next time you listen to a music box, appreciate its sound and think of the centuries of innovation and design that lead to it.

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