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Fairground Organ Music

A fairground organ is a pipe organ designed for use in a commercial public fairground setting to provide loud music to accompany fairground rides and attractions. Unlike organs intended for indoor use, they are designed to produce a large volume of sound to be heard over and above the noise of crowds of people and fairground machinery.

As fairgrounds became more mechanised at the end of the nineteenth century so did their musical needs grow. The period of greatest activity of fairground organ manufacture and development is from the later 1880s through to the introduction of effective electrical sound amplification in the mid-1920s. The organ chassis was typically provided with an ornate and florid decorative case fašade designed to be a further fairground attraction in its own right as with all fairground equipment.

The ornate case fašades frequently had different instruments such as a Glockenspiel or Drums that provide visual entertainment as they played. There were often ornate human figures such as a conductor whose arm moved in time to the music or women whose arms would strike bells. The mechanics to accomplish this motion were quite intricate and provided a pleasant visual experience in addition to the music.

The organs were constructed so as to be able to produce the popular music of the period. Organs were designed to mimic the musical capabilities of a typical human band. For this reason they are known as band organs in the US.

The motive force for a fairground organ is typically wind under pressure generated from mechanically powered sets of bellows mounted in the base of the instrument. The instruments, designed to be operated without a human performer, are keyboard-less apart from a few one-off examples. The organ is played mechanically by either a rotating barrel with the music pinned thereon like a musical box, a strip of card perforated with the musical data and registration controls called book music or interchangeable rolls of paper similarly programmed called music rolls.

Fairground organs were used in many settings such as general fairground rides, static side shows such as bioscope shows and various locations in amusements parks such as ice rinks and the like.

Manufacturers of fairground organs also typically made instruments for indoor usage in a dance hall called a dance organ and travelling street use called a street organ

Like all mechanical instruments fairground organs come in a vast array of sizes and technical specifications made by a myriad of manufacturers all of which had their own trademark characteristics. As with all vintage equipment there is a strong preservation movement associated with these instruments and today new instruments and music are still being made.




Manufacturer Product Image Item Name Price
UK Dutch Barrel Organ - Draaiorgel De Vije Beelden - Rediffusion

Dutch Barrel Organ - Draaiorgel De Vije Beelden - Rediffusion

R.3603 Dutch Barrel Organ   Draaiorgle de vije Beelden Rediffusion  RIM ZS.148      MADE   IN ...
€10.00

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GERMANY Fischer's Bekannte Toboggan Orgel - Chor Music CM2056

Fischer's Bekannte Toboggan Orgel - Chor Music CM2056

R.3624 Fischer's Bekannte Toboggan Orgel   58er Gebruder Bruder Konzertorgel Chor Music Records  CM.2056      MADE...
€15.00

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UK Forrest's 65 Key Gaviolli Organ - Hallmark SHM836

Forrest's 65 Key Gaviolli Organ - Hallmark SHM836

R.3590 Grymonprez  Organ   Pipe Organ Favourites  1891 - 1971 Amberlee   AFL 104      MADE  ...
€10.00

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UK Forrest's 65 Key Gaviolli Organ - Marble Arch MALS.386

Forrest's 65 Key Gaviolli Organ - Marble Arch MALS.386

R.3596 Forrests 65 Key Gavioli Organ   Meet me at the Fair Marble Arch MALS.386      MADE   IN  UK ...
€10.00

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UK Gaudin 65 Key Organ - Gaudin Melodies - Amberlee AFL.101X

Gaudin 65 Key Organ - Gaudin Melodies - Amberlee AFL.101X

R.3591 Gaudin 65 Key Organ   Gaudin Melodies Amberlee   AFL 100X      MADE   IN  UK  1970...
€10.00

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UK Gaudin Fair Organ - All the fun of the Fair - Joy JOYS.168

Gaudin Fair Organ - All the fun of the Fair - Joy JOYS.168

R.3616 The Gaudin Fair Organ   All the fun of the Fair Joy Records  JOYS.168      MADE   IN  UK ...
€10.00

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UK Gaudin Fair Organ - All the fun of the Fair Vol 2 - Joy JOYS 217

Gaudin Fair Organ - All the fun of the Fair Vol 2 - Joy JOYS 217

R.3620 The Gaudin Fair Organ   All the fun of the Fair Volume 2 Joy Records JOYS 217      MADE   IN  UK ...
€10.00

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UK Grymonprez - Pipe Organ Favourites - Amberlee AFL.104

Grymonprez - Pipe Organ Favourites - Amberlee AFL.104

R.3590 Grymonprez  Organ   Pipe Organ Favourites  1891 - 1971 Amberlee   AFL 104      MADE  ...
€10.00

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UK Harry Smith - London Barrel Organ - Contour 2870106

Harry Smith - London Barrel Organ - Contour 2870106

R.3621 Harry Smith   London Barrel Organ Contour  2870106      MADE   IN  UK  1970  ...
€15.00

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UK Harry Smith - London Barrel Organ - Contour 2870106

Harry Smith - London Barrel Organ - Contour 2870106

R.3621 Harry Smith   London Barrel Organ Contour  2870106      MADE   IN  UK  1970  ...
€15.00

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