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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 Mortier Organ 97 Key - Melodious Memories - Joy JOYS 257

Mortier Organ 97 Key - Melodious Memories - Joy JOYS 257

R.3619 Mortier 97 Key Show Organ   Melodious Memories Joy Records JOYS 257      MADE   IN  UK  1973...
€10.00

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UK Mortierorgel Marcel - Holiday for Fairground - Gemini GMX.5018

Mortierorgel Marcel - Holiday for Fairground - Gemini GMX.5018

R.3610 Mortierorgel  Marcel   Organ   Holiday for Fairground Organ Gemini  GMX5018      MADE  ...
€15.00

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UK Orchestrion Organ 1879 - Orchestrion Sounds - Decca ECS.2079

Orchestrion Organ 1879 - Orchestrion Sounds - Decca ECS.2079

R.3629 The Orchestrion Organ 1879   Orchestrion Sounds Decca Eclipse ECS.2079      MADE   IN  UK  1969...
€10.00

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UK Radcliff's Stean Carnival on tour - Pickwick SHM.928

Radcliff's Stean Carnival on tour - Pickwick SHM.928

R.3606 Radcliff's Steam Carnival on Tour   Pickwick  SHM.928      MADE   IN  UK  1973  ...
€10.00

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UK The Limonaire 1900 Pipe Organ - Columbia SCX.6386

The Limonaire 1900 Pipe Organ - Columbia SCX.6386

R.3600 The Limonaire  1900 Pipe Organ   Journey of a Lifetime Columbia  SCX 6386        MADE  ...
€10.00

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UK The Mighty Marenghi - Fairground Organ - Starline SRS.5035

The Mighty Marenghi - Fairground Organ - Starline SRS.5035

R.3611 The Mighty Marenghi   Fairground Organ Starline  SRS.5035      MADE   IN  UK  170  ...
€10.00

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Max: 1

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