Or­gans voice a new street sound

Ovens & Murray Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE -

BEECH­WORTH was alive last week­end with the en­tic­ing sound of street or­gans as 40 mem­bers of the Aus­tralian Me­chan­i­cal Or­gans’ So­ci­ety en­ter­tained res­i­dents and vis­i­tors with de­light­ful cre­ations from another time.

Each year the so­ci­ety chooses a town in which to meet, ex­hibit and show their barrel or­gans.

Twenty or­gans were placed in dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions – on the cor­ners of the town’s main in­ter­sec­tion and on the foot­paths of Ford and Camp streets – lend­ing a colour­ful air and pro­vid­ing mu­sic which caught the ears of many vis­i­tors.

“The per­son who plays a me­chan­i­cal in­stru­ment in pub­lic is tra­di­tion­ally known as an ‘or­gan grinder’ and they were a very com­mon sight in cities and towns from the 1800s to the 1920s,´ said Mel­bourne or­gan en­thu­si­ast John Wolff.

“They played an im­por­tant part in bring- ing mu­sic to the general pub­lic in the days be­fore gramo­phones, ra­dio and modern elec­tronic de­vices.

“The or­gan grinder also tra­di­tion­ally had a mon­key dressed in a sim­i­lar out­fit to its owner and was there to col­lect the money from by­standers.”

Graeme McDiarmid from Gis­borne played a 20-key me­chan­i­cal or­gan which he built from scratch over two years played along­side wife Pam who crafted a replica herdy-gerdy, an old Euro­pean in­stru­ment with an in­ter­est­ing his­tory that dates to the 11th cen­tury.

The stringed in­stru­ment looks and sounds sim­i­lar to a vi­olin where a hand-turned resin wheel rubs against the strings to pro­duce sound.

It was played as a court in­stru­ment in the 15th cen­tury, be­came an in­stru­ment for the ladies of the night in the 18th cen­tury and it has since de­vel­oped as a folk in­stru­ment.

PHOTO: Coral Cooksley

DE­LIGHT: Gis­borne’s mu­si­cal duo, Pam and Graeme McDiarmid en­ter­tained lo­cals and vis­i­tors with an or­gan and herdy gerdy.

PHOTO: Wendy Stephens

HEARD: Pat and Kathy Doyle with grand­chil­dren Isla and Evie Moul­der ad­mir­ing John Wolff’s 30-year-old replica Ber­lin or­gan.

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