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August 27, 2014

MB&F Release Futuristic Music Box

By Zahra Al-Kateb

With its spaceship-like design, rock and sci-fi melodies and innovative resonance soundboard, MusicMachine 2 (MM2) boldly goes where no music box has gone before. Underneath its futuristic guise, MM2 features all the traditional elements of a beautifully-crafted, high-end music box. That’s no surprise as it’s made by REUGE, the music box manufacturer with nearly 150 years of expertise and experience.

MusicMachine 2 doesn’t just look unconventional; it plays unconventional melodies as well: Themes from Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Star Trek, on one ‘channel’; Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven, The Rolling Stones’ Angie and The Clash’s Should I Stay or Should I Go? on the other. Small wonder: MM2 was conceived and designed by MB&F and its songs have been selected by their rock ‘n’ roll founder and sci-fi fan, Maximilian Büsser.

MusicMachine 2 is powered by two independent movements mounted on the starship’s tail section. Each movement has its own winding key (disguised as a propulsion thruster), mainspring barrel, horizontal cylinder (looking like a nacelle tube) with pins, and comb with hand-tuned teeth sounding each note. The cylinders play three melodies each. An air regulator in the form of a circular fan (resembling a radar) governs the unwinding speed of the cylinder.

If MusicMachine 2 looks out of this world, then just wait until you hear it. One of the biggest challenges was in amplifying the sound. In traditional music boxes, the movement is placed in contact with a walnut wood casing that helps to augment the volume. But MusicMachine 2 is anything but traditional. Its sound-emitting case – a shallowly domed aluminium shell forming the main hull – is ostensibly separate from the movement mounted on the tail section. The diagonal tail boom is the only discernible link between the two. So how is sound energy on MM2 beamed from A to B? Thanks to an ingenious solution developed by Jeanmichel Capt of JMC Lutherie, that’s how.

A stringed instrument maker by trade, Capt has developed a highly scientific approach to the luthier’s craft to produce devices harnessing the acoustic properties of 350-year-old spruce wood. Only one in 10,000 spruce trees have the exceptional acoustic properties required. Selected trees are cut down in November when sap flow is minimal and the timber is then dried for five to ten years.

For MusicMachine 2, Capt created a bespoke soundboard featuring Nomex® – a type of honeycomb-structured Kevlar – sandwiched between two resonant-spruce membranes. This circular sandwich ‘floats’ on silent rubber blocs inside the main hull, the resonance dome.

Through the Nomex® honeycomb runs a rigid carbon-fibre bar connecting to the ship’s tailboom, which is fixed to the mainplate. The melodious vibrations generated by the two movements are conducted down the tail boom, along the carbon bar, through the Nomex® honeycomb and across the surface of the 350-year-old spruce membranes. Capt even engineered the movements’ mainplate to isolate the combs to minimise sound energy loss and maximise volume. The result is a clear, loud, pure sound, supremely rich in timbre.

Following on from the first MusicMachine, launched in 2013 and featuring a streamlined space shuttle design, MM2 is the second instalment in what will be a memorable trilogy of MusicMachines. REUGE CEO Kurt Kupper says: “Star Wars, Star Trek, Alien… Sci-fi classics have spectacular sequels and MusicMachines are no different. MusicMachine 2 is a veritable blockbuster. After seeing it, after hearing it, you are unlikely to forget it very quickly.”

(Source: MB & F)

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