Tag Archives: Toys

Typatune typology

In 1940 Alexander Rose (1901–85, above) received a U.S. Patent for his Typatune, a toy piano with a QWERTY typewriter keyboard. He seems to have been destined to create this curious invention both through his vocation as a court stenographer and his choice of a wife—one Clara Berger, daughter of Samuel Israel Berger, a noted maker of toy typewriters.

World War II may have caused a moratorium on the Typatune’s manufacture, as the toy did not appear on the market until shortly before Christmas 1945, when it was widely advertised.

The purchaser of a Typatune also received a spiral-bound booklet showing which keys to press to produce a number of popular melodies. Two models have been identified—one in a red rexine case and one in an off-white wooden case, both with a collapsing carry-handle. A later development was the addition of a hinged lid to protect the keyboard. All versions carry the label Made in Switzerland.

This according to “Neither one thing nor the other: Alexander Rose’s Typatune” by Arthur W.J.G.  Ord-Hume (The music box: An international journal of mechanical music CCVIII [summer 2017] pp. 48–50).

Below, a brief demonstration with an inside view.

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Famous Victorians in a toy symphony

 

toy-symphony

An event billed as A Concert for the Children’s Hospital, Great Ormond Street, held in London on 14 May 1880, featured a performance of Bernhard Romberg’s Toy symphony in which prominent London musicians performed on various mechanical birds and toy instruments; all but two of the musicians in the ensemble played instruments other than those that they were accustomed to performing on.

The evening also included performances of the Chœur des soldats from Gounod’s Faust and several children’s songs by a kazoo ensemble conducted by the operatic contralto Zelia Trebelli-Bettini.

This according to “Famous Victorians in a toy symphony” by Herbert Thompson (The musical times LXIX/1026 [1 August 1926] pp. 701–702); this issue of The musical times, along with many others, is covered in our new RILM Abstracts of Music Literature with Full Text collection.

Above, the participants at a rehearsal; below, a more recent performance of the featured work.

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Boomwhackers® music

The music department at the Deichmanske Bibliotek (Oslo Public Library) has recently developed a new package for music teachers in the Norwegian public school system. The service is based on Boomwhackers®, a set of colored plastic tubes that play various notes of the scale when struck.

Children quickly understand the simple notation system based on color, and under the guidance of a teacher begin quickly to play and even compose music. The package includes a set of Boomwhackers®, a detailed guide for teachers based on requirements outlined in the Norwegian national teaching plan of 2006, and a set of large-print sheet music of simple, well-known tunes.

The department also holds courses for teachers, in cooperation with the library’s department for school services, which is part of the Unge Deichman (Young Deichman) department.

This according to “Boomwhackers: A public library service for music teachers in the public school system in Oslo, Norway” by Ann Kunish (Fontes artis musicae LVII/3 [July–September 2010] pp. 291–95). Below, the Unge Deichman department demonstrates.

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