Friday, February 21, 2014

Photo Essay: The Musical Instruments of the Nethercutt Collection

I visited the Nethercutt Museum and Collection in Sylmar for its drool-worthy cars. What I didn't expect was the Music Room - or to love it so much.



Where else can you find such a collection of grand pianos...



...player pianos...



...nickelodeons...



...and the granddaddy of automated musical instrumentation, orchestrions?



A machine that's designed to sound like an orchestra or even just a band...



...orchestrions might contain music box-style pinned cylinders and music rolls ...



...pipes...



...(as for a pipe organ)...



...and even violins that spin around a bow that strokes against the strings.



Some contain drums and other percussion, and the largest one - taking up almost an entire wall of the room - displays disembodied accordions that squeeze without arms, buttons pressed without fingers.



It is mesmerizing, especially when multiple machines play in overlapping symphony, the faces of figurines lit and smiling down from their wooden cabinetry - like being immersed in a merry-go-round wonderland.



The pièce de résistance here is the Mighty Wurlitzer...



...relocated to Sylmar from the Denver Civic Auditorium...



...the largest of its kind on the West Coast, with its 5000 pipes...



...that emit anything from traditional organ music (à la Phantom of the Opera) to Hollywood sound effects (doorbells, alarms, train whistles, wind and other stormy weather).

As the Wurlitzer rises out of the floor on its platform, the wood-paneled walls open up, revealing the glass-encased pipes inside, lit in a rainbow of colors. You're inclined to watch the pipes as they play, though there's nothing really to watch (not like the spinning violins, squeezing accordions, or banging drums of the orchestrions).

So, simply close your eyes and listen, and let the scene emerge...inside your mind.

Related Posts:
Photo Essay: The Cars of the Nethercutt Museum & Collection
Photo Essay: Old Town Music Hall (formerly The State Theater), El Segundo
Photo Essay: First Congregational Church Organ Crawl