There are many obscure, under-explored sonic marvels to be found in the old music hall annals – I’m rustling to publish a detailed survey soon. In the meantime, the latest Leonardo Music Journal (#23) features my paper on ‘electrical music’ in Victorian music halls, focussing specifically on the work of the eccentric Johann Baptist Schalkenbach and his imitators. In the 1860s Schalkenbach developed an act in which he played on an amalgamation of instruments he called the Piano-Orchestre Électro-Moteur (built around a reed harmonium). Whilst playing, he would simultaneously trigger musical, noise and optical effects via the electromagnetic triggering of circuits connected to objects placed around the hall. It’s a delicate precursor to the noise machines of the Italian Futurists. Over the decades, the apparatus gradually became more spectacular as new features were added.
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.