“The four [taxidermied] birds in this box are really rare,” said Bayernhof Museum curator Tony Marsico. This mechanical instrument is called a Serinette, and today’s tones are part of a larger series from the Bayernhof Musuem’s automatic musical instrument collection.
Wikipedia describes the Serinette as:
“consisting of a small barrel organ. It appeared in the first half of the 18th century in eastern France, and was used to teach tunes to canaries. Its name is derived from the French serin, meaning ‘canary.”
The Bayernhof Museum website notes that this particular Serinette:
“doesn’t play music in the style of traditional music boxes, but uses tiny slide whistles and small organ pipes, in conjunction with a pinned barrel to mimic the sounds of birds. The taxidermied birds in the cage, move their wings, heads and beaks in relation to the sounds of the small pipes. The effect is very realistic. The early boxes of this type were used to teach pet canaries to sing, later in the 1890 to 1910 period, they were used as children’s toys.”
I know why these caged birds sing–cause they get wound up! For the Mechanical Bird Box (Serinette) Tone, I simply edited some of the mechanical bird chirps together. You’ll hear the birds move in the cage as they twitter their songs.
This second Serinette from Mr. Brown’s collection has a singing bird built right into the instrument, “This is a fairly rare box, our restorer said he’s only ever seen two of these boxes, said Marsico. “This has a little bird in the front that sings opera.” Here’s the Opera Singing Bird (Serinette) Tone.