It’s happening! Very excited to report that the set of Gershwin horns I put together have found a home and will be used in a production of American in Paris in the next few months. I will definitely be updating with hopefully some video then. David sent me this image of his mounted set of horns. Ready for rehearsals!
I’ve been trying to put a set of Gershwin’s ‘American In Paris’ (1929) taxi horns together. I’ve been doing a lot of experimenting with tuning the reeds. What I really need to be doing is making my own. At some point I will. In the meantime this is about as far as I’ve been able to get so far. Some of the reeds in the video have been manipulated by sliding a zip tie down the length of the reed. Problem there is each reed will only take so much manipulation before it stops vibrating. I’ve seen things like the tuning change a bit from one day to the next… Weather? Zip tie expanding? Not quite ready for a mission-critical performance. But maybe perfect for your high school orchestra! If you’re willing to work with me, and not be too fussy over the exact pitches, I can put a set together for you. $200 + shipping. Contact me firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss. This would be without mounting hardware, horns only. If you’d need them mounted we could discuss that as well I have some carpenter friends who are very handy. (Larger version video here.)
Tuning a horn. It’s an art not a science (yet).
I thought to include this video for comparison. The pitches in this performance don’t correspond to either of the versions we’re used to, but in the end it’s more about the effect. I don’t know, but my sense is that that is what George was going for in the first place. (An American In Paris Percussion Frank Lao)
James recently bought one of our replica King of the Road horns to add to his drum kit. He has a family band. He tells me the horn has the exact sound he needed to play Herb Alpert’s ‘Tijuana Taxi’.
Here’s the horn in James’s drum kit.
And what do you know! You can hear the Tijuana Taxi horn yourself in this Herb Alpert video from 1966! (P.S. If anyone has any info on these horns being used in taxis in Mexico, please post a comment or send me an email email@example.com)
Before movies had sound, silent films were often accompanied by live musical performances. Often a single piano or organ. But what I didn’t know was that at one time there were elaborate one and two person keyboards, one-man-bands, that some high-end theaters would acquire for their film accompaniment.
That is, until Bill from the Virginia City Players bought a few horns from us and Lindsey, their musical director, sent me photos of the horns set up for use.
The Virginia City Players have a working Cremona Photoplayer, one of the last few in existence.
Lindsey built a stand for the horns and keeps them close at hand.
We’ve made use of them in a couple numbers that we do in our vaudeville show. We don’t allow video/pics during show, so can’t show you those. One is a crazy chicken number, the other is of a traffic jam with wooden cars that people are carrying around.
Thank You Bill and Lindsey for sharing your story and these photos. Check out their website for more information about their shows and amazing old musical instrument collection. VirginiaCityPlayers.com. Here’s the story of their Cremona Photoplayer and its use in our not so distant past.
Not a Cremona and it uses a player piano roll to make most of the music but you can get the idea here…
Or listen to an NPR story on the Cremona Photoplayer.
(Click image to watch the video). These beautiful horns, hand made in India and imported with love and care. For your golf cart, mobility scooter, Tiny Car, bicycle, motorcycle. Our homepage has pricing and ordering info. The YouTube version of the video is here. Please share!
Jared sent us a photo of his horn in action, at work on his forklift. The 12″ inch straight two-tone is a great choice for this application as it’s loudness and high pitch mean it’s easier to hear over whatever else is going on in the area.
I must say, it makes me happy to see our horns serving an important role in the workplace!
Attached are two photos showing the new “door honker” installed. It is quite effective! This is only possible in rural settings as the honking would be a problem in suburban or urban neighborhoods. The squeeze horn makes an ideal “door bell” when other alternatives don’t work including wireless doorbells (can’t transmit through metal doors and siding), iron door knockers (not loud enough), or banging one’s hand against the door. A compressed air powered horn doesn’t have any charm. The squeeze horn is perfect! The rubber bulb is “holstered” in a 6″ round float that has been cut out to receive the bulb and protect it from the sun. The horn is tethered to the post using a brass chain.