Animal Organs
June 16, 2009 5:25 AM   Subscribe

...a line of cats fixed in place with their tails stretched out underneath a keyboard. ... The instrument was ... for the purpose of treating patients who had lost the ability to focus their attention. ...if they were forced to see and listen to this instrument, it would inevitably capture their attention and they would be cured.

Finally, after 10 long years, an answer.
posted by DU at 5:31 AM on June 16, 2009

Note to future alien overlords. Humans are much easier to train than cats.
posted by munchingzombie at 5:47 AM on June 16, 2009

That pale shirtless dude (torso only) in the third link, and the way he eagerly attacks his tangle of wires & rods, going into the shot of him in the nightclub testing it out on some gum-chewing pubgoer -- that image will stick with me all day. It's almost dream-like, in that way that dreams make some sort of sense but not really.

As for the fourth link: WIN.
posted by not_on_display at 5:56 AM on June 16, 2009

When I hear "cat organ," I think of keyboard cat.

I liked the 4th link especially.
posted by explosion at 6:21 AM on June 16, 2009

The mouse organ isn't nearly marvellous, nearly mechanical, enough. Unlike this one.
posted by davemee at 6:25 AM on June 16, 2009

Muppaphone [@1:25].
posted by googly at 6:52 AM on June 16, 2009 [2 favorites]

posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:04 AM on June 16, 2009

No love for Louis XI's pig organ?
posted by Zed at 8:33 AM on June 16, 2009

"What should we say about the cat piano? The idea that such an instrument could have existed gives a lot to think about, even if it was built on an experimental basis: a piano where strings are replaced by cats, each of them giving a different note. "It seems that Father Kirchner, a German Jesuit of the XVIIth century with an interest in musical things,gave the first description of this weird and cruel instrument.

"'Not long ago,' says he, 'an actor, as ingenious as illustrious , built such an instrument to cure the melancholy of a great Prince. He gathered cats of differing size and therefore in the pitch of their voices. He enclosed them in a basket specially built for this purpose, so their tails, coming out through holes, were held in tubes. He added keys with thin needles instead of hammers, and installed the cats according to their voices in such a way that each key would correspond to the tailof an animal, and he put the instrument in a suitable place for the pleasure of the Prince. Then he played it,producing chords corresponding to the mewings of the animals. Indeed the keys pressed by the fingers of themusician, by trotting the tails of the cats, would enrage the poor animals and make them scream with a high or low pitch, producing a melody that would make people laugh or even incite mice to dance.'"
--LES MEDECINES DE LA FOLIE by Dr. Pierre Morel and Claude Quetel and Martin Roberts
posted by msalt at 8:34 AM on June 16, 2009

The Gong Show had a performer who stood behind a row of lit candles, of gradiated sizes, and placed his hand to the flames in sequence, producing a melody of, " OW! OW! OW! OW! OW!..."
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:45 AM on June 16, 2009

Beware of the dreaded 19 keys of le Boite Diabolique (5:42).
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:46 AM on June 16, 2009 [2 favorites]

That mouse organ video made me cackle wildly.
posted by dunkadunc at 10:01 AM on June 16, 2009

explosion: "When I hear "cat organ," I think of keyboard cat "

A common mistake. Organ cat is keyboard cat's morbid cousin who plays people off this astral plane. He has no need for puppetry to tickle the ivories where you are going.
posted by mccarty.tim at 10:15 AM on June 16, 2009

* enter thread *
m u p p
* 2 matches *

Good work, MetaFilter.
posted by Space Coyote at 11:36 AM on June 16, 2009

Let's not forget the "Torturer's Apprentice" from The Adventures of Baron Munchausen.
posted by Listener_T at 12:03 PM on June 16, 2009

Seems there was a bit in one of Moorcock's Elric novels where the palace had a choir of slaves who had each been surgically rendered able to sing only a single note. Maybe that's as decadent as the Katzenklavier, maybe not.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 4:42 PM on June 16, 2009

I'm sure there's an anecdote about Keith Moon getting a bunch of naked groupies to line up and bend over. He instructed each one to sing a different note when he blew up/on their backsides. He then played them like a set of pan-pipes.
posted by Brian Lux at 2:07 AM on June 17, 2009

and my personal favorite

Marvelous mechanical mouse organ

(scroll down to the mice section)

the cat organ thing makes me sick, this makes me feel better.
posted by pywacket at 10:56 PM on June 17, 2009

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