In view of the present popularity of the piano player, and the marvelous perfection this instrument has attained in reproducing the work of the best musicians, it is very evident that it will be only a question of time before other musical instruments must similarly surrender to mechanical control. The latest development along this line is a machine which will play violins and kindred instruments. As may well be imagined, the violin offers difficulties which are peculiar to itself, and we are not surprised to learn that the Violin player illustrated herewith is the culmination of seven years of continuous labor and experiment. The instrument requires no alteration in the violin itself, and any violin may be placed in the player and removed without injury. The parts are pneumatically controlled in a manner similar to that of the ordinary piano player. A perforated music sheet selects the notes which are to be sounded. This sheet travels over a "tracker board," provided with the usual ducts in which an exhaust is maintained. There are two ducts for each note, and as these are uncovered by perforations in the music sheet, the air rushing into one of the ducts acts through the medium of the usual valves and pneumatics to press a finger down on one of the violin strings at the proper point on the finger board, while the air in the other duct puts into operation the bowing mechanism of this string. The bowing is done by means of four crystal disks, one for each string. In the accompanying drawing the details Of the bowing mechanism are shown. Fig. 1 illustrates a section taken through the body of the violin A., The strings are indicated at B. The disks G, with which the bowing is done, are an inch in diameter and % of an inch in thickness. They are mounted in the ends of levers D, which are connected to the pneumatics E. When one of the bow ducts is uncovered, it operates a valve, which connects its respective pneumatic E with the exhaust chamber of the machine. The pneumatic is thus deflated, swinging the lever D to which it is connected, and bringing the disk G on this lever into contact with the selected string B. The disk G is rotated at high speed by means of a belt, which is guided along the lever D, as best shown in Fig. 2, and runs over a pulley F at the opposite end of the lever. When the lever D is swung into operative position by the pneumatic E, the pulley F is brought into contact with a driving pulley G, and is set in motion by a frictional contact therewith. This motion is communicated to the disk G, which operates on the violin string. The speed of revolution may run up as high as 2,000 revolutions per minute. The rate at which the disks revolve determines the loudness of the tones. A device is provided for applying rosin to the disks. This consists of a email cup attached to a spring arm and containing rosin, which bears against the revolving disks. The fingers of the violin player are sixty-five in number, although more can be added if desired, to reach the extreme high range of the A and E strings. There is a finger for each note. The model shown employs fingers reaching the seventh position. In front of each string is stretched a rubber band, upon which the ends of the fingers strike, thus producing a touch like that of the human finger, and making it possible to imitate the "slide." The tremolo is produced by a set of four hammers, which are actuated by electric vibrators of the type used in call bells. When a hammer vibrates against, a string, next to the bridge, the tremolo effect. is produced on that string. All the strings may have this effect, or one, as the character of the music demands. Directly over the violin are four small pitch pipes, which are blown, on pressing a button, by causing air to pass through the pipes, each of which gives the tone of one of the strings, G, D, A, or E. The operator then tunes the violin in unison with the pitch pipes. Violinists know that it is hard to keep a violin in tune. But few appreciate that this is due to the sweat of the player's fingers, which makes the strings stretch. Strings on instruments placed in the violin player do not need much tuning. Silk E strings have been found to last two months, and have stayed in tune two weeks without attention. The tempo is varied by means of a friction pinion which is moved radially on the face of a large driving wheel. This device for varying the tempo enables the simulation of rubato passages when it is operated by a skilled musician. Instruments of the violin family have four strings, each with a range of two octaves. The violin player enables each string to be treated, at will, as a separate violin, as each bow is controlled by a separate mechanism. In the model shown, the higher portions of the G and D strings are not utilized, but they can be by supplying extra fingers. Notes on a violin are found sometimes on each of the four strings. For instance, the G above the treble staff may be struck on all the strings; so that if a trill were being performed on that note on one string, an arpeggio passage containing the same note could be produced on the other strings. Of course, no human player could do that. It is possible for the player to render a solo part, with a cello accompaniment on the bass strings, or a solo with two accompanying violin parts, all on one violin. The pos- sibilities for combinations of orchestral effect, therefore, are seen to be many. Harmonics are produced by the application of just enough pressure to a finger to make it rest lightly in the string sounded, thus imitating the action of the human finger. Trills are produced with striking clearness by providing a series of small perforations in the music roll. The same principle applied to the bow pneumatics produces springing bow and flying staccato. In making the first music rolls for the player, the inventor, Prof. Wauters, of Binghamton, N. Y., had many technical details to solve. Instruments having fixed strings or tones are played on the tempered scale. But violins play on the untempered chromatic scale, and therefore it was necessary for Prof. Wauters to lay the groundwork for producing music rolls for instruments of that character. Aeronautical Notes. On December 18, M. Louis Bleriot attempted several flights with his latest Langley-type aeroplane on the parade ground at Issy les Molineaux, near Paris. This new machine is of the following-plane type, the rear planes being only about half the length of the front ones, and the machine being fitted with a 50-horse-power, 8-cylinder engine. On the afternoon of December 18, M. Bleriot made one flight of about 150 meters successfully, although his machine showed signs of imperfect stability. During his second attempt, after he had flown about 100 meters and while he was still in the air, both the forward wings snapped suddenly where they joined the body of the machine, causing it to fall suddenly and strike the ground with great force, after which it swung around and turned over. By the greatest good fortune M. Bleriot was not seriously injured. In view of the fact that he made many successful flights with his former machine (which was of the true Langley type) it would seem that the modification which he has made in the way of shortening the rear planes has not improved the stability of this type of machine. The fact that the planes snapped under the air pressure when going about 30 miles an hour, shows that M. Bleriot -had not allowed a sufficient factor of safety in designing and constructing his machine. That he was not killed as the result of this accident was only due to the greatest good luck. It is to be hoped that other aviators will profit from his experience and will make sure that their machines are sufficiently staunch before trying to fly. Further information regarding the loss of the French airship "La Patrie" shows that the manner in which this occurred was as follows: On the afternoon of Friday, November 29, shortly after the airship had ascended from Verdun with seven men on board, for the purpose of reconnoitering, the mechanic's clothing became entangled in the gearing and a temporary descent was made at Souhemes. When the accident first occurred, it was supposed that the trouble resulting therefrom could be quickly remedied, and the airship was allowed to drift before the wind while the mechanic was making repairs. The accident occurred about 2 P. M., and as the repairs had not been effected at dusk, a descent was made for the purpose of completing them. It required all the following day (Saturday) to complete the repairs and make all the necessary adjustments. The last of the workmen quitted the airship only a quarter of an hour before it broke away. This happened at about 8 P. M., when the wind increased greatly and blew a gale. The 180 men who were holding the airship down were not effective as ballast because their combined weight, although great enough to keep the vessel from breaking away, was not applied at one time, since the airship was whipping back and forth owing to the fury of the wind. Lieut. Lenoir risked his life in an effort to grasp the rip cord and deflate the envelope just before it broke away. Unfortunately he was unsuccessful and an extra heavy gust of wind tore the huge gas bag out of the soldiers' grasp and carried it quickly aloft. The loss of this airship will be felt not only by France (which nation expended fully $150,-000 in constructing and perfecting it), but by the entire aeronautical world, since it was quite the most complete and perfected airship of the flexible gas-bag type that has thus far been constructed. It is to be hoped that the speedy construction of the second French airship "La Republique" will be hastened in order that there shall be no break in the experiments with dirigibles of this type. Horse owners are often compelled to tie their horses rather close in the stall, for fear of accident resulting by the animal's becoming entangled in a halter strap which is too long. A weighted hitching strap is now to be had, with which the animal may have a good deal of liberty without any danger of this trouble. It consists of a piece of pipe with means of securing it to the woodwork of the stall, and a roller at the top over which the strap passes. A long weight slides up and down inside the pipe, and the end of the hitching strap is secured to it. The weight takes up all slack, and the length of rope which it takes care of is sufficient to allow the animal considerably more freedom than if tied in the ordinary manner.
This article was originally published with the title "An Automatic Violin Player"