Thursday, July 30, 2009

Mira Music Box - Must You?

So, in 9th century Iraq, the Banū Mūsā brothers invented an automatic musical device which played interchangeable cylinders with raised pins on the surface.

Centuries later, the Swiss popularized the ancient Iraqi invention with their own musical snuff boxes that made sounds when you opened them. The sound was produced by a mechanism plucking tiny metal nibs that made different tones depending on their size and shape. By the 19th century, music boxes had come into their own as a means of song propagation before the advent of phonograph records.

It was through this amazing technology that someone committed this song ("Must You?") to immortality by crystallizing it into tiny metal nibs on a small rotating drum or disc in the 19th century. By 1903, even more amazing technology had come about - the phonograph cylinder. Someone had the bright idea of holding this Mira music box up to the recording horn of an Edison machine, thus making a copy to be preserved and distributed.

But then, much later in the century, someone recorded that cylinder on an amazing technology called magnetic tape, thus making a third-generation copy to be preserved and distributed. A few years later it was probably then transferred to a fourth-generation copy on the next amazing technology called the digital compact disc.

So here's the fifth generation copy, wherein someone used the very latest amazing technology and did away with the need for a physical disc, instead converting it to pure digital binary microscopic quantum beep-bop-blips to be decoded by microchips.

Stay tuned: in a few years, we'll be converting all these old recordings into hyper-dimensional meta-holographic constructs that can be gleaned psychically by anyone in the known universe by uploading them to an interstellar web of microtubular connection via nanodust. Bet me.

The song "Must You?" was written for L. Frank Baum's bizarre 1902 Stage Version of The Wizard of Oz.

Mira Music Box, circa 1903

1 comment:

  1. Ooooo! Thank you, sincerely, for sharing this! Just lovely--and a perfect way to end my work week, twirling around in my office (where no one can see) like a music box dancer. :-)