Complete Encyclopaedia of Music/A/Androides

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Androides. In 1738, M. Vaucanson exhibited at the Royal Academy of Sciences, in France, a machine capable of playing several airs on the German flute. By means of springs, valves, and levers, he produced all the motions requisite for an expert player on the flute; and he executed music in such a manner as to have it acknowledged equal in beauty to that derived from the exertions of a well-practised living performer. The same gentleman afterwards exercised his ingenuity in the construction of another musical androides, exhibited to the Academy in 1741, and which was not less admired than his flute player. In constructing his pipe and tabor player, M. Vaucanson made some discoveries which he little thought of ; and among the rest, that this kind of flute is one of the most fatiguing instruments to the lungs of the performer. In order to produce the highest note of the instrument, the muscles of the chest of a living performer must make an effort equal to fifty-six pounds, for such was the weight with which he found it necessary to load the pair of bellows which supplied the air for this tone in the machine. A single ounce sufficed for the lowest tone ; whence we may deduce the variety of intermediate pro-portions necessary to be given to the air in giving even the scale of the flageolet. Many musical androides have been invented ; but among the most celebrated automatical mechanisms was that of M. Maillardet, a native of Switzerland, who constructed an androides representing a beautiful female, seated at a piano-forte, on which she per-formed eighteen tunes. Independent of the execution of the music, which is produced by the actual pressure of her fingers upon the keys, all her motions were elegant and graceful, and se nearly imitating life, that, even on a near approach, the deception could hardly be discovered.