MIT is where the future is invented, but there is also deep interest in understanding the past. The Lewis Music Library recently added to its collection of historical music players by acquiring a large Regina music box from ca. 1898. The machine produces music using 15.5-inch metal discs, its ethereal sound transporting the listener to another era.
“Students are thrilled to hear these unique sounds, and they are always interested in the mechanical design of these machines,” says Peter Munstedt, retired music librarian.
The music box joins a 78rpm player (ca. 1910), cylinder player (ca. 1905), and turntable from the 1960s in the library’s collection, which is supported by the Class of 1982 Music Library Fund.
“Lewis Music Library’s collection of historical music technologies enables students to see how technologies have shaped the way music was perceived and created in the past in order to form an understanding of how technology—its advances and its limitations—are affecting music today,” says Michael Cuthbert, associate professor of music.