Edited Transcripts

Music Boxes! with Canolli Capalini

Jedburgh30 Dagger: Hello everyone! Ladies and Gentlemen, Viv, Serafina and I are pleased to welcome you to the March Aether Salon – Music Boxes! As a late rez-day present to our Miss Viv, Ms. Canolli Capalini has agreed to talk to us about her music boxes and their history.

As many of you know, the Aether Salon meets to discuss steam and Victorian topics on the third Sunday of each month, in Palisades and Academy, New Babbage. This is our 16th salon and I would like to thank each and every one of you for joining us today. Just a few matters of housekeeping before we get started. If you are standing in the back, please move forward onto the maze so that you can be assured of hearing the speaker. Please hold your questions until the end, and as a courtesy to all, please turn off everything that feeds the lag: all HUDs, scripts, AOs and so on. Please no weapons, rogue scripts, unmetered poetry, or incindiary devices. Your cooperation is appreciated.

Edited and unedited transcripts will be posted this week on aethersalon.blogspot.com so you can revisit today’s merriment, read transcripts of past salons, and for a laugh, peruse “overheard at the salon.” Please join the Aether Salon group and receive notifications of future salon events, click the lower right hand corner of the large brown sign by the entrance. We sincerely appreciate the support we receive from everyone in the community and we humbly thank you all.

Many fine people have contributed to today’s salon: We are grateful to Canolli Capalini of Capalini Fine Furnishings for the wonderful salon chairs, Miss Ceejay Writer, Mr. Rafael Fabre, Miss Redgirl Llewellen, Miss Breezy Carver, Miss Ahnyanka Delphin for the stage and the citizens of New Babbage who make this event possible.

Mark your calendars for next month’s salon, Ironclads with Commodore Hotspur O’Toole. Upcoming Salons will include Photography with Mr PJ Trenton, and Wireless with Miss Gabrielle Riel. As a reminder, all speakers’ fund jar donations go directly to the speakers. Now I will turn the stage over to Miss Viv for the introduction of today’s speaker.

Viv Trafalgar: Thank you Jed. Thank you all for coming. Many of you know that Miss Capalini is a talented craftsperson and also the maker of some of my favorite music boxes on the grid; some of you even know that I have been collecting these objects for some time. I love to set out several here and there to enhance a scene or particular story. They are beautifully wrought, extremely detailed, and amazingly well conceived from the music to the interactivity, to the design. Canolli’s imagination knows no bounds. We’ve asked her here to speak today about Music Boxes – as you can tell from the title – let me tell you a few other things about Miss Capalini first

After losing her family to cholera, she was sent to her Uncle Chadsworth Capalini, a carpenter who lived in Lexington, Kentucky. He took her regularly to his woodshop and as Canolli grew, her attention to detail in the woodworking was attributed to the Uncle and his business became known for high quality furniture and chests. Not wishing to lose a valuable commodity, her Uncle kept any suitors away. Uncle Chadsworth disappeared under mysterious circumstances and suspicion was cast upon the young woman. The store was closed and Miss Capalini disappeared. Seven years later, she appeared in New Babbage.

At first, Canolli constructed a chair here and there, donating them to the New Babbage Geographical Society. Seeing the excellence of her work, commissions started rolling in. She was able to open her own store in a few months. She disapproves of excesses and generally carries a bit of food on her person in case she meets an urchin. Friendly, with a soft southern drawl, but wary of crowds, she gets along well in New Babbage. Particularly because no one asks any questions.

Certainly not about her past and not about the hammer she keeps upon her person at all times. Without further ado, please help me in welcoming Miss Canolli Capalini.

Canolli Capalini nods. Thank you for the intro. Ladies and gentlemen, I was asked to speak today as a special favor for Viv’s… long standing addiction.

Not that I have ever eyed her purse and sent a teasing advert for a new box her way.. but music boxes are a subject that is very personal to me. And i suspect, if you are a person that likes music boxes, they carry something personal with them for you as well.

To begin today’s talk, let’s get some of the technical aspects out of the way.. What is a music box? Our current idea of a music box is a 19th century invention. It produces sounds by the use of a set of pins placed on a revolving cylinder or disc so as to pluck the tuned teeth of a steel comb. They were developed from musical snuff boxes of the 18th century and called carillons à musique. Some of the more complex boxes also have a tiny drum and small bells, in addition to the metal comb. Note that the tone of a musical box is unlike that of any musical instrument.

Now prior to the 18th century.. there were of course, many musical inventions.. dating all the way back to antiquity. Most notably, Heron of Alexandria. He didn’t make music boxes that played music, but created inventions that mimicked the calls of birds.. the whispers and sighs of maidens, heraldic trumpets enough to fool the mind into believing they were hearing wisps of music upon the air.

In the 9th century in Persia, two brothers made a set of automatic organs that played continuously driven by water. However, our modern ideal of music boxes was perfected in Switzerland with the watchmakers. As the industrialization of the world hit full stride, music boxes gained even more popularity as the emerging middle classes could suddenly afford to have music at their command in their homes. The more newly moneyed families could even have more complex mechanical creations to imitate full orchestras, hence the orchestrion.. which was nothing more than a hugely elaborate music box that incorporated several instruments.

At the turn of the century, a music box could well have been used as a status symbol, who it was made by and how intricate it could get. Automatons, singing birds, dancing figures. But in the end, the music box was doomed. Thomas Edison, the invention of the phonograph, and the widespread use of radio sealed the fate of these little works of art.

Most of the music box manufacturers actually went out of business at this time, and the beautiful little bits of clockwork were very much becoming extinct. However, something interesting happened. Europe was flooded with Americans fighting in WWII. : Much like any tourist, these soldiers wanted to take home souvenirs to their families, and the little music box began a ressurgence that has not ceased to this day.

Now, the popularity has never revived completely, and to this date there are only two main manufacturers left.. Reuge, SA, still providing fine swiss clockworks.. and the Sankyo japanese company, that does the most of what you see in novelty and automated music boxes.

Now, that’s a very base history of music boxes.. and I wasn’t sure what people wanted t know.. soo I guess I’ll open it up to questions.

Bookworm Hienrichs: I would guess most people would like to know how and why you started making them here, Miss Capalini.

Ceejay Writer: I have a question – or a wonderment. Not sure.

Viv Trafalgar: oh Good first question Book then Ceejay

Canolli Capalini: Well, Miss Hienrichs, I started making music boxes here because.. I guess, i’ve always wanted to be a bit of a toy maker, and i’ve always had a particular love of the sound of a music box. It makes me feel as though I’m hearing something.. that maybe I shouldn’t be hearing.. like the hint of a far off song, or perhaps a glimpse into another world. Combine that with a love of automatons, and clock work.. it just seemed natural. In other words, I couldn’t help myself.

Viv Trafalgar: Miss Writer, next question/wonderment?

Ceejay Writer: I’m fascinated by Heron of Alexandria’s work – and I cannot IMAGINE how he made a music box sound like a woman’s sighs. Any idea how his mechanics worked?

Canolli Capalini: Heron used a variety of methods.. but his most common technique was simply steam. He would devise a series of metal pipes and whistles that would be attached to a hidden cistern..

Ceejay Writer: Aaaah! Thank you – I can imagine steam power!

Canolli Capalini: a fire would be lit, and the steam from the liquid would provide airflow.. which in turn would vary as the fire waned and warmed. Actually, i would go so far as to say he is the ORIGINAL Steampunk. Now of course, we don’t know exactly how he did a great many of the things he did. We’re still unsure exactly how he rigged the doors to Zeus’s temple to open the way they did.. but it’s a very interesting study.

Rowan Derryth: Miss Capalini, are there any notable collections of music boxes that you might know of, for further study?

Canolli Capalini smiles.. if I did make something to honor heron, it would more likely be a clockwork bird of some kind. Well, obviously.. there are the ornate Faberge creations.. they weren’t all music boxes, but some were and it was very intricately done.

Rowan Derryth: Ah,yes

Canolli Capalini: Also, the Porter Music Box Company (which banks today on antique cabinet music boxes).. they have a great museum and history of different kinds of music boxes.. which leads to the variations in tones between the different stylings of mechanisms.

Viv Trafalgar: Where is this museum?

Canolli Capalini: A porter music box sounds extremely different from a Reuge Music box. Randolf, Vermont, Miss Trafalgar. Most of the Reuge and smaller music boxes are cylindrical music boxes. Many of the older and larger companies (Porter included) were mostly the disc variety.. and depending upon how many springs a music box incorporated, determined how long it could play.

Bookworm Hienrichs raises her hand with another question, if no one else has one.

Canolli Capalini: In the modern world (such as Sankyo), many companies are going to a mp3 stylization. Electronic music boxery. Many of the cheaper novelty music boxes that you get.. do not actually have music box movements.. merely a chip. Yes, Miss Hienrichs.. you had another question?

Bookworm Hienrichs: What can you tell us about this large music box to the side? *gesture to the left side of the stage–her left*

Canolli Capalini smiles.. I brought that as an example of a more ornate item. This was actually a box that I made to a customer’s specifications for a wedding. Now, it doesn’t play music box music.. the customer was very specific about the song for his intended.. and he did not wish it to be music box music. (i can’t imagine why) I wanted to show how something personal could be incorporated into an object. The phoenix and unicorn carrying specific meaning.. the other symbols obvious.. we incorporate the use of light when it opens to provide a dramatic feeling of divinement.

Marion Questi: I’m impressed at how you managed to stitch together the sound files so seamlessly… I also brought it because it is one of the few music boxes that will never be sold outside of the customer.

Canolli Capalini: Marion.. when you utilize one of my music boxes.. you’ll note before every one, there is moment of preloading. That is how I ensure that the music plays as seamlessly as this medium will allow it, because in SL, your hearing music clientside… so each person here is hearing it just a TAD different from every other person here. That preloading allows a set amount of files to load so it doesn’t have to load them as it goes.

We have the same principle here.. this is one of the first boxes I made. This was before I had truly learned what i was doing with animation and sounds fully.. So the sound is weaker, but it is the full 3 minute song.

Bookworm Hienrichs: I love the detail of the landscape picture behind the gears.

Breezy Carver: and the clock !

Ceejay Writer: At that size, I’m tempting to simply sprawl on the floor in front of it and let it be an immersive experience.

Canolli Capalini: But true to the asthetics of the Swiss clock makers, I also started incorporating the musicboxes with clocks. So, as my love with clockworks and music boxes grow.. so do my creations. And really, that is the point of SL, isn’t it? And yes, it plays a music box tune on the hour. Any other questions abut music boxes? or my music boxes?

Viv Trafalgar: where do you find your inspiration for these? They seem to be telling stories of their own

Canolli Capalini: Usually.. .. I don’t know. Some I dream, some i see something similar in my first life and i want to make it my own … some.. just sort of create themselves.

Jasper Kiergarten: where do you find your music sources?

Viv Trafalgar: (last question, I’m afraid)

Canolli Capalini grins.. believe it or not Mr. Kiergarten, I make many of them.

Beq Janus ratchets up her admiration another 5 notches

Jasper Kiergarten: midi?

Canolli Capalini: I went to college on a music scholarship and can play several instruments. I have a wonderful synthesizer and i use freesound.org to find many of the clicks and whistles and metallic sounds. I use Goldwave as a sound editor. I actually found goldwave to be the most intuitive sound editing program i could find.

Viv Trafalgar: I’m just about to pick up the speaker’s fund – all donations to this jar go to the speaker

Canolli Capalini: It doesn’t have ALL the bells and whistles i would like, but it does work marvelously well for what I want to do with it.

Jasper Kiergarten: using Live for midi and Melody assistant for notation. Excellent

Canolli Capalini: oh i use an old ratty notebook for notation.

Viv Trafalgar: and then we invite you to take the gift that Miss Canolli has very wonderfully donated to the salon today – a beautiful new box. Although it is sitting very close to me, please know you are in no danger of having your fingers slapped if you reach out for one

Canolli Capalini: Any other questions? about music boxes? the history of?

Viv Trafalgar: and with our Deepest Thanks and appreciation Canolli – who overcame obstacles to be here today

Kathy Jameson: Thank you, Miss Capalini!

Canolli Capalini: I mean, music boxes have a very deep history.. this was only lightly touching the surface.

Serafina Puchkina: Thank you, Miss Canolli! You are indeed a talented and creative artist. Thank you. And thank you, Salon patrons, for your interest and support. If you would like to join the Aether Salon group, please click the sign by the entrance. Our next salon is April 18 with Hotspur Otoole, Ironclads!

Canolli Capalini: Oh, and if you are doing the Steam Hunt? one of CFF’s prizes is a previously unsold music box.

Beq Janus adds that you can use the very same sign to donate to the Salon’s upkeep, as it could do with a lick of paint here and there

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