Antique Music Box Gets A Digital Update

<p>A pre-digital music player gets converted into a <span class="caps">MIDI</span> sequencer.</p>

If you find yourself wandering around an antique store, looking longingly at the splendid craftsmanship of artisanal products from yesteryear, just remember that even though the devices you’re looking at might be obsolete, it doesn’t mean they can’t be updated to comply with our digital present. Sound artist Martin Bircher has created Digital Enhancement, which takes a Symphonion music box, an early 20th century music playing device, and transforms it into a MIDI sequencer.

In this pre-digital music player a crank is turned by hand, which then sets the mechanics in motion, playing the original score that’s been etched onto steel plates via the sequencer—giving a wonderful physicality to the now-virtual operations of playing a song.

Bircher explains:

"Digital Enhancement" is an interactive sound installation consisting of an electrified Symphonion Brevet No. 28, a synthesizer, an amplifier and four headphones. The Symphonion musical box dates back to the beginning of the last century and its mechanical workings are combined with digital technology to convert it into a MIDI sequencer. The original music, embossed on steel plates, can be played on the synthesizer, which is programmed to mimic the sounds of the Symphonion. In order to operate the sequencer, a hand-cranked dynamo serves as a remote control.

[via Laughing Squid]