Happiest Music on Earth?

Tuesday, August 13th, 2002
Close your eyes and imagine that you are on a carousel. (Click to listen)   Hear the music?  Does it make you feel happy?  Are you there?  

Sometimes, when I get ready to study and I want to put myself into a happy mood, I hook up my calliope and play some happy music. I find that my disposition changes and the burdens of the world are lifted - as if I were a child again.   Of course sometimes I just do this because it is an excuse not to study -- which I am supposed to be doing right now. :-)

Image:Happiest Music on Earth?
Listening to music like this brings back find memories of when I was a kid. There was a man in our neighborhood who restored carousel band organs as a hobby. On Saturday mornings, he would start up his band organ and kids would come running for blocks around to sit on his lawn and wiggle to the happy music.

That experience inspired me to desire to have a band organ of my own -- until I found out how expensive they were to own and maintain. A few years ago, I began researching the idea of building one and making it computer controlled so that I would have an endless supply of MIDI files to control it with.  This has been a long project and I am certain to have many years of work still ahead of me. So far, I have completed the MIDI controlled Calliope (see above) and a MIDI controlled Glockenspiel. I am almost done with a MIDI controlled Accordion. Next, will be the rhythm section. All of this is powered  by my Oreck XL vacuum, which you can see in the above photo.

Watch a vacuum cleaner powered calliope play a patriotic greeting!
    Broadband - RealMedia 300 Kbps
    Low-Speed - RealMedia Dial-up

Here's a treat.  It's a video clip of my computer-controlled calliope powered by an 8 lb Oreck XL vacuum cleaner. The video clip is in RealMedia format and you can watch it by clicking on the link below. During the video, be sure to watch for the Mack sisters, our American Bear, the vacuum cleaner (which you can hear in the background) and the laptop computer that controls the entire performance.

* MIDI stands for "Musical Instrument Digital Interface" - a computer control system where a computer can control musical instruments, lights, or other equipment.

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