The huge changes that the invention of mechanical music would bring to the world must have been barely conceivable to its inventors and craftsman. But their visions created endless new possibilities. Composers would soon be able to leave behind exact recordings of their music for future generations to hear, individuals would be able to listen to music without having to learn how to play an instrument themselves and eventually music would be played anywhere, including in a car, without the need for musicians to be present.
The first part of the story of mechanical music saw brilliant inventors find ways to codify music on materials such as nails on revolving barrels or holes on paper. Many of the incredibly complex mechanical instruments that these inventors built to automatically play music using their new simple coded materials are on display here.
The next part uses machines from the earliest phonograph to today’s modern electronic recording equipment to tell the history of how the greatest human minds used scientific methods to capture and then replay music.