An orchestrion is a generic name for a machine that plays music and is designed to sound like an orchestra or band. Orchestrions may be operated by means of a large pinned cylinder or by a Music roll and less commonly Book music. The sound is usually produced by pipes, though they will be voiced differently to those found in a pipe organ, as well as percussion instruments. Some orchestrions also contain a piano.
The name "orchestrion" has also been applied to three specific musical instruments:
- A chamber organ, designed by Abt Vogler in 1785, which in a space of 9 cub. ft. contained no less than 900 pipes, 3 manuals of 63 keys each and 39 pedals.
- A pianoforte with organ pipes attached, invented by Thomas Anton Kunz (1756-1830) of Prague in 1791. This orchestrion comprised two manuals of 65 keys and 25 pedals, all of which could be used either independently or coupled. There were 21 stops, 230 strings and 360 pipes which produced 105 different combinations. The bellows were worked either by hand or by machinery.
- A mechanical musical instrument, automatically played by means of revolving cylinders, invented in 1851 by F. T. Kaufmann of Dresden. It comprises a complete wind orchestra, with the addition of kettle-drums, side-drums, cymbals and triangle.
- Arthur A. Reblitz: The Golden Age of Automatic Musical Instruments. Woodsville, N.H.: Mechanical Music Press, 2001.
- Herbert Jüttemann: Orchestrien aus dem Schwarzwald: Instrumente, Firmen und Fertigungsprogramme. Bergkirchen: 2004. ISBN 3-932275-84-5 (Orchestrions From The Black Forest).
- Q. David Bowers: Encyclopedia of automatic musical instruments: Cylinder music boxes, disc music boxes, piano players and player pianos... Incl. a dictionary of automatic musical instrument terms. Vestal, N. Y.: The Vestal Press, 1988.