Listen to the 1926 instrument used to soundtrack silent films: the American Fotoplayer

5 October 2020, 15:01 | Updated: 5 October 2020, 15:08

joyous organ man

Please enjoy this infectiously joyful performance on the American Fotoplayer, an instrument originally used to soundtrack silent films.

Just… just have a look at this beauty:

The American Fotoplayer was (and still is) a bizarre sort of keyboard instrument that centred on its automatic piano roll, and was augmented by a dazzling assortment of horns, bells and whistles used for comedy sound effects. 

It’s essentially a player piano, but with an entire mechanical orchestra built in.

Read more: This AI piano plays Bach just like legendary pianist Glenn Gould >

Movie theatre owners would use photoplayers to provide soundtracks to silent films, with users required simply to set off the piano rolls and sound the accoutrements when necessary.

This particular instrument is played fantastically by Joe Rinaudo.