One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A large mechanical musical instrument designed to imitate the sound of an orchestra.
- ‘There are music machines, too - player pianos and orchestrions, which combine a number of automated instruments in one box.’
- ‘Bach chorales are transposed according to strict mathematical procedures, folk tunes are inverted and piled on top of one another, and the clumsy sound of an orchestrion is produced by a small orchestra.’
- ‘Secular barrel organs varied widely in size, ranging from domestic instruments little bigger than a musical box to the orchestrions designed for public display, for example Maelzel's panharmonicon and Winkel's componium.’
- ‘The castle had every technological gadget imaginable including central heating, hydro-electric power for his electric lighting and the orchestrion.’
- ‘Orchestrions were designed to imitate an orchestra by means of organ pipes and percussion instruments, though in some cases they were built around large upright pianos instead; early examples used pinned wooden barrels to provide the music which they played, while later versions had the advantage of perforated paper music rolls.’
Mid 19th century: from orchestra, on the pattern of accordion.
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