Have you ever wondered how they created all that iconic, zany music for cartoons back in the day?

I must confess that the thought never really crossed my mind – I just enjoyed the cartoons for what they were. But after watching this video, this is all I’ll be thinking about next time I hear this music!

It turns out that much of the music used in classic cartoons was created on a very unusual instrument called the American Fotoplayer.

This instrument was created in the early 1900s specifically to make music and sound effects for silent movies.

One of the big draws of this instrument was that the player didn’t need much musical experience to play it. The piano and pipe organ parts of it were played mechanically, and the the player would pull cords, push buttons, and press pedals to make sound effects to go along with what was happening onscreen.

But while the player might not need a lot of musical experience, these instruments definitely took a certain level of skill to play! Keeping up with the music while trying to keep track of each of the effects was no easy task!

Sadly, of the thousands of American Fotoplayers made, less than 50 still exist today, and only 12 of those are actually playable. Being able to play them, too, has become a dying art, but Joe Rinaudo is keeping the tradition alive.

Click below to see this incredible instrument in action!

 

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