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AES Section Meeting Reports

Austrian - January 30, 2014

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Summary

The AES Austrian section organized a lecture and a special guided tour in the museum of art history, Kunsthistorisches Museum, in Vienna. The topic of the event was "Music reconstruction of automatons of the Renaissance", presented by Helmut Kowar and Nadja Wallaszkovits from the Phonogram Archive of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna.

The lecture presented some very special pieces of art, in total five musical automatons from the years 1582 to 1606, which are among the earliest sounding testimonies of European musical culture. To mark the re-opening of the "Kunstkammer" of the museum, they have undergone a complete restoration process. Unfortunately, the physical condition of these machines did not allow to establish their playability again. However, the partially preserved notation of music on the information carriers (wheels and pulleys) and the still-functioning pipe and drum membranes of the machines enabled the reconstruction and realization of music in the original sound. Audio samples of the original instruments were recorded, the information carriers were accurately analyzed and the information was finally transferred into a MIDI file. The editor was assigned with the individual samples and the original operating noise of the automata was mixed to the final result.

The presentation ended with a special guided tour in the "Kunstkammer", where the participants had the chance to see the objects in the exhibition.

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