The explanation of the terms listed below refer to their usage in the field of Mechanical Music. Many of the descriptions are from the book The Golden Age of Automatic Musical Instruments by MBSI member Arthur A. Reblitz, published by the Mechanical Music Press, Woodsville, New Hampshire; copyright 2001. They are used here with permission of the author and publisher. Permission is granted for writers to use a limited number of brief excerpts provided credit is given to the MBSI web site, the title of the original work and the author. Written permission is required for all other uses. German nouns and words that are also names of places are capitalized.
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
Submit New Glossary Term
rank of pipes. Single row of pipes, arranged in musical order and of the same type or tonal character. Sections of a single rank may be given individual names. For example, a single rank of violin pipes may be called violin, viola, and violoncello, violin pertaining to the treble part, viola to the middle range, and violoncello to the bass. In orchestrion and organ nomenclature a listing of such terms usually does not correspond to the actual number of ranks of pipes in the instrument. Note: do not confuse with register. A register is a device for controlling one or more ranks of pipes or even a portion of a single rank.
ratchet. A stepping mechanism consisting of a gear and a spring-loaded lever (pawl) that allows movement in only one direction. A necessary part of a spring-wound mechanism.
rebate. The scoring of pins too close together which keeps the damper from operating properly when the cylinder pins strike the dampers in succession.
reed organ. An organ containing from one to many sets of tuned free reeds. Small reed organs have one manual (keyboard), while larger ones have two manuals and pedals like a pipe organ. See harmonium.
reed pipe. See reed (definition 2).
reed. 1. Vibrating metal tongue which produces sound in a harmonium or reed organ. 2. Type of organ pipe: 2a. Free reed: a metal tongue which moves in and out of its aperture (called a shallot) freely as it vibrates. Used in reed organs and harmoniums, organettes, and in certain types of organ pipes, especially those of soft or medium voicing. 2b. Beating reed: a carefully curved (according to principles of voicing) tongue covers the shallot opening (but is too large to enter it) and then springs back again as it vibrates. Mainly used for loudly-voiced pipes.
register. Control for turning one or more ranks of pipes, piano, percussion instruments such as xylophones and bells, or other effects on and off in an organ or automatic instrument. * Synonyms: stop, organ stop.
registration stud pin. The threaded pin that protrudes from the end cap of a musical box cylinder and rests against the snail cam. Turning the pin allows for fine adjustment of the cylinder position in order to align the registration marks with the tips of the comb teeth.
registration. The selection of stops to be used while playing a pipe organ.
regulating screw. The screw located in the rear of the governor block which allows for the depthing adjustment of the endless screw with the second wheel by sliding the potence in and out.
regulator. Spring-loaded bellows connected to the main pressure or suction supply in a pneumatic instrument, with an escape valve or a choker, which helps to keep the air pressure or suction at a constant level. * Synonym: equalizer.
reiterating. Constantly repeating. The repetition or repeated striking of a single note by means of a special mechanical or pneumatic action built for this purpose or by means of closely-spaced holes in a music roll or music book. When an extended hole appears in the music roll (or when a staple-like bridge pin occurs in a pinned cylinder arrangement) the reiterating action will constantly repeat the note until the perforation has ended. * Synonym: repeating.
repeating. See reiterating.
replay. See play.
reproducing piano. Automatically-played piano which, by means of special rolls, re-enacts a recording artist's performance, including different levels of intensity (independently controlled for bass and treble sections of the keyboard) in addition to the musical notes and the pedal action. Distinguished from an expression (or semi-reproducing) piano by having multiple intensity levels. Rolls, called reproducing piano rolls or artists' rolls, are made from master rolls produced on a special recording piano which, with the help of a talented music editor, captures the nuances, idiosyncrasies of techniques, and the attack of the performing pianist The result is a very realistic performance when a reproducing piano is properly restored and regulated. Reproducing pianos were made in upright, grand, spinet, and cabinet (keyboardless) styles. Leading types produced c. 1905-1930 were Ampico, Duo-Art, and Welte-Mignon. Certain large orchestrions (e.g., the Hupfeld Pan Orchestra) incorporated reproducing type mechanisms. * Synonyms (used years ago, not by collectors today): artistic piano, re-enacting piano, master-playing piano, recording piano, reperforming piano. Note: In original advertising such terms as "artistic" and "uses artists' rolls" were often used to describe regular (non-reproducing) types of automatic pianos.
reproducing pipe organ. Pipe organ which uses rolls recorded by organists and incorporating expression effects. The Aeolian Duo-Art Organ and the Welte Philharmonic Organ are examples.
reroll. See rewind.
reservoir. Spring-loaded bellows for storing or for storing and regulating the wind supply from a pressure pump or the suction supply from a vacuum pump.
residence organ. Pipe organ made for residential use, often softly voiced.
resonator. The wooden or brass body of an organ pipe. Misnomer for tuning weights in musical boxes.
reverse. 1. Rewind (also listed in this Glossary). 2. In twin-tracker instruments (such as the Nelson-Wiggen Selector Duplex Organ and the Empress Twin Tracker Solo Expression Piano) in which a double-wide roll has half the tunes perforated in one direction and the other half in the opposite direction, reverse actuates the mechanism which reverses the direction of the roll after the tunes on one side are finished, and switches over to the other half of the tracker bar.
revolver box. Cylinder music box with three or more cylinders affixed to end plates which are mounted on a common shaft, in a "Ferris wheel" arrangement. The cylinders, each of which has several tunes on it, can be changed by rotating the entire assembly so that another cylinder is brought into playing position.
revolver mechanism. See automatic roll changer, revolver box.
rewind roll. Standard and most-used type of paper roll for pianos, organs, and orchestrions. Wound on a spool. The end tab of the roll is attached to a take-up spool, which pulls the roll over a tracker bar as it plays. When the performance ends, the roll is rewound on the original spool. When rewinding is completed, the same performance can be heard again, or the roll can be exchanged with another. See endless roll.
rewind. When a rewind roll reaches the end of the playing notes, a special rewind (or reroll) perforation causes the roll frame to shift to the rewind position. The pneumatic mechanisms which actuate the playing notes are disengaged so that no notes will be played while the roll is rewinding. Rewinding is done at high speed. When the leader of the roll reaches the tracker bar, a rewind-to-play hole in the tracker bar (or, in some instruments, a mechanical device fitted to the take-up spool) actuates a mechanism which shifts the roll frame from rewind to forward. The roll is then ready to play another performance or to be taken from the instrument. * Synonym: reverse. * Dutch: terugspoelen. * French: retour. * German: Rückrollen, zurück, zurückrollen.
rhumba. In a dance organ, a term synonymous with maraca (also listed in this Glossary).
ride cymbal. Medium-sized cymbal struck with a hard beater, frequently played on every beat, adding a driving rhythm or pulse to the music. Widely used in dance bands and certain Decap dance organs.
rigid notation. The horizontal engraved lines found on some early musical box cylinders. The lines were said to be used to aid in timing the music in the absence of a rotary dividing engine. Mostly used by Francois Nicole.
rohrflute pipe. See chimney flute pipe.
roll changer. See automatic roll changer.
roll frame. Music roll mechanism comprising the tracker bar, takeup spool, mechanisms for shifting from play to rewind, pinch rollers or hold-down roller, tracking mechanism, etc.
roll. 1. Perforated paper roll as used on a player piano, orchestrion, organ, etc. Can be of the endless or rewind type. 2. Sustained or reiterating striking action, particular on a drum (as in snare drum roll).
roller organ. Tabletop organette using a small pinned wooden cylinder. Also called a cob or "Gem" roller organ.
run. The catastrophic occurrence when the spring power in a musical box is discharged very rapidly, as when the governor fails. In cylinder boxes this causes the cylinder to spin at great speed and can result in damage to pins, gears, teeth and tips. In disc boxes it can fracture the spring barrel and strip the gears and destroy the teeth.