Revolve & Rotate with polyphon machine
I always get asked about my polyphon machine at my gigs and I suppose with this new light weight set up (I toured with an original c1880 machine for nine months that was 5ft tall) it should really be called an electrophon. Though is includes an original 19th century bed-plate and comb, the clock work mechanism which would have powered this machine in it’s original format has been replaced by a stepper motor.
This enables more accurate play back tempo wise which is important as the 100 seconds of live music I can create from my original 20” steel discs needs to be synced, looped and layered with sampled versions of the same themes to create longer more imaginative pieces.
After using Ableton live to play midi samples of the acoustic instrument I have also now switched to an arduino computer that has the sole task of playing the digital audio at the right point to begin with and also to stay in time with the machine and disk tempos.
The music created by polyphon programmers in the late 19th century was truly awe inspiring in terms of complexity and breadth for a market that was keen to hear both popular folk tunes and classical favourites also. There were also markets for these machine in the Middleeast and Asia and if anyone has any original discs of Persian music then I’d love to hear from you.
For now though, here is a live excerpt of my own piece for melodeon and polyphon called Revolve & Rotate.