Music boxes have a long and rich history, going back to at least the 1700′s. In many cases, there are an incredible number that are excellent examples of craftsmanship and very fine, detailed hand work. Today, however, a number of the elements of a music box can be involved with electronics. This is especially true for the actual music or sounds themselves. Many people are interested in adding their own custom tunes to a music box. Of course, in order to do this, there are a number of considerations to think about first.
One of the biggest factors and considerations in developing your own custom music box will be the length of the tune you want. In some cases, this might mean limiting each track or section of the music to a certain length of time. This might be 30 seconds or 60 seconds, depending on the actual mechanisms that are used by your music box manufacturer. On the other hand, if you absolutely do not want the tune broken into sections or pieces, a movement with an oversized cylinder could be fitted into your music box. This is difficult and not many manufacturers are able to achieve this, but it can add considerable time lengths to the amount of continuously playable music.
Tuning of the Box Combs:
Another factor involved with designing your custom music will be actually tuning the combs within your music box. This is very different from tuning something like a piano. The comb scale used will actually only include those notes that are needed. The problem, however, is that this process is much more complex due to the smaller spaces involved. It may actually involve adding extra combs to lengthen certain notes and sounds since there is a period of time needed between playing of successive notes.
The comb turning process is very detailed and can take some time, depending on the complexity of the music used. The final result is based upon a careful selection of notes, trills, and ornaments by the arranger and a simultaneous inclusion of multiple teeth to generate the exact notes needed.
The Actual Musical Arrangement:
Consider the actual arrangement of your musical tunes. The more complex and involved your music, the more teeth will be required. For example, something that only has 18 teeth would be fairly inexpensive and relatively easy to arrange. However, it would also likely only allow for about 40 or so different notes. This step might involve some additional planning ahead of time just to make sure the project is feasible and plan out exactly how it should be done.
You should also give a lot of thought to the types of materials that you will use in your music box. This will seriously influence what type of music can be customized, including the length of your musical composition. There are even music boxes today that can be produced from a 3D printer. There are also more traditional designs that will allow your custom music to play whenever the lid of the box is opened. These types of music boxes tend to be much sturdier and last for a long, long time. Many of these better-looking boxes actually create your custom music as an electronic module. This makes it much more efficient and offers you many more options for creating custom music box tunes.
Written by Boris M. of Music Box Attic.