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Reuge - Play my Song!

Reuge Play my Song!

Whether you prefer Led Zeppelin, Beethoven or K-Pop – it’s all music, and that’s what matters. Reuge, the venerable music box manufacturer, can meet the needs of all kinds of music lovers, thanks to the impressive skills of an arranger

Reuge’s music catalogue currently includes over 800 references, but the possibilities are literally endless. Thanks to their arranger, whose rare skills encompass both the mechanical and the musical, any piece of music can be arranged for the music box. This magician, who can conjure melodies from inert metal, can work with virtually any piece of music, provided he can identify a representative extract that lasts between 30 and 50 seconds. Reuge’s automata are fitted with 36, 72 or up to 144-note combs (in the case of the “cartels”), which means they are capable of considerable melodic complexity, as well as longer musical passages.

The “score” is a cylinder set with tiny pins. As the pins strike the teeth of the “keyboard” they produce a musical note. Just like on a piano, the arranger produces harmonies by playing several notes simultaneously. But a music box has limitations; it is not possible to play the same note in quick succession because of the way the blades vibrate (although the vibration can be controlled with damping feathers – take a look at our article Good Vibrations: Musical Automatons and Vibration Damping Feathers. Depending on the tune, the arranger can solve the problem by playing the same note on different teeth.

Mechanical juke box

A music box such as the Dolce Vita, which has 72 notes, can play up to 15 pieces, thanks to its five interchangeable movements, each of which has its own cylinder containing three pieces. Each piece can be played in turn, thanks to a cam that moves the cylinders to the next piece, or switches to the next cylinder. Being able to play a total of 15 pieces on a single keyboard brings its own difficulties in terms of musical arrangement. A single cylinder can also contain a longer piece split into three, rather than three separate pieces, by adjusting the position of the pauses. As is so often the case, the things that seem the most simple can be fiendishly difficult to achieve in practice!

Listen to the Vienna Waltz on the Dolce Vita

Alongside the more classical and traditional fare, Reuge can also accommodate contemporary hits. The Music Machine 3, created in collaboration with MB&F, plays six pieces on two cylinders. The playlist comprises the themes from Star Wars (1977), Mission Impossible (1960), James Bond (1962), The Godfather (1972) by Nino Rota, Furyo (1983) by Ryuichi Sakamoto and The Persuaders (1971) by John Barry.

Play my Song!

Music Machine 3 © Reuge

The art of compromise

While tuning used to be done by ear, these days a machine adjusts the teeth to produce the desired tone. The predecessor of the current arranger perfected this invaluable tool. The note is played and its frequency is measured. A tiny grinding wheel then shaves down the tooth until it vibrates at the correct frequency. The thicker the blade, the stiffer it is, and the higher its frequency.

But the tuning would mean nothing without the ingenious musical and mechanical arrangements that precedes it.

So, what’s your preference? The national anthem of Uzbekistan? BTS? My Way by Frank Sinatra? or the latest TikTok tune? You’re bound to find something to suit in the Reuge catalogue.


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