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A monkey organ

A monkey organ

Why do they call this a monkey organ? Where's the monkey? A monkey organ is a small organ operated by turning a hand crank. The small size of these instruments made them suitable for use by street performers, known as organ grinders. At one time (a long time ago) organ grinders were often accompanied by live monkeys, who not only attracted attention, but worked the crowd of spectators by carrying a cup to collect coins.

Photo and Instrument: Courtesy of Debence Antique Music World

Turning the crank


John Smith Busker Organ

The organ plays when the crank is turned. No batteries or electricity are required, so monkey organs are very portable. They are well suited for outdoor performance.

Music on punched paper

Monkey organ book music

Music for monkey organs is often punched rolls of paper like this one. Since monkey organs are generally used as a form of public entertainment, they often play crowd-pleasing popular music.

Photo and Instrument: Courtesy of Debence Antique Music World

Monkey

These days, organ grinders are often accompanied by toy monkeys, not live ones.

 

 

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Page last Updated: Saturday, November 15, 2014 11:30 AM
 



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