Precious Objects. Singing Bird Music Boxes by MMM Griesbaum

Precious Objects. Singing Bird Music Boxes by MMM Griesbaum

Bird music boxes have a long and noble history dating back to the early 18th century when they were precious objects both in terms of craftsmanship and art. Many technical innovations were applied to the singing bird and music box technology by Swiss and French clock makers until the art of the music boxes was mastered by the German Clock Makers of the Black Forest region in the early 20th century. They popularized the music boxes and made them somewhat more affordable. The company that dominated the market was one headed by Karl Griesbaum of Triberg. From about 1905 up until 1980 the Griesbaum family manufactured singing bird boxes. Around 1980 that original company went bankrupt and was purchased by a German collector and mechanical music enthusiast, Siegfried Wendel, setting up MMM (Mechanische Musikwerke Manufaktur) GmbH in 1990. For about twenty years, the Griesbaum designs, assets, tools, research and know how were carefully housed in a benevolent museum in Germany.  A few years ago the owner of these assets decided to pick up where the Griesbaum left off and revived the business. they resumed the making of singing bird boxes in the tradition of Griesbaum.

True to Griesbaum tradition, MMM produces three basic version of the music boxes: Gold Etched, Gold Plated and Silver Cases.  The mechanism however is the same and so is the quality of sound. 

Each of these birds is carefully manufactured and assembled according to exacting standards.  Each comes with a 1 year manufacturers warranty. The mechanism is as loud and strong as in the best years of Griesbaum. The melody is intricate, complete with vibrato, melismatic lines, and precise articulation. Tiny bellows push air through an automated slide whistle which produces the complex little tune. While whistling, the bird moves its head from side to side. These pieces are truly fascinating. Housed inside the body is a tiny mechanical mechanism with bellows and a multi-pitch whistle that plays a tune on demand. The mechanism is made by hand in Germany and is completely mechanical without any use of speakers or electronics. These are mechanical musical instruments. 

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  • Anna Asatryan
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