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Tracks of Reality

Talking machines, canned music and the recording studio for talents and techies

Two technologies were developed almost simultaneously at the end of the 19th century and marked the beginning of a new acoustic era. For the first time, the mechanical control of pianos and other musical instruments and the recording and replay of tones and sounds with the aid of needles and rotating cylinders or discs allowed the faithful reproduction of music and language.

The exhibition features a large selection of talking and music machines as well as historical sound carriers. Highlights include the “Happy Jazzband” by Popper & Co from the 1920s with automatic drums, some of the earliest phonographs and gramophones, and a home-made reel-to-reel tape recorder by a Dresdner engineer from the 1950s. Visitors can listen to early examples of experimental machine music as well as hits from a century of pop music. A number of exhibits can be demonstrated by the museum staff or even tried out by the visitors themselves.