Saturday, July 12, 2008

Louis XI's pig organ

That brutal monarch, Louis XI of France, is said to have constructed, with the assistance of the Abbé de Baigne, an instrument designated a 'pig organ,' for the production of natural sounds. The master of the royal music, having made a very large and varied assortment of swine, embracing specimens of all breeds and ages, these were carefully voiced, and placed in order, according to their several tones and semitones, and so arranged that a key-board communicated with them, severally and individually, by means of rods ending in sharp spikes. In this way a player, by touching any note, could instantly sound a corresponding note in nature, and was enabled to produce at will either natural melody or harmony! The result is said to have been striking, but not very grateful to human ears.
- J. Crofts, "Colour-Music," The Gentleman's Magazine, September 1885
The abbot of Baigne, a man of great wit, and who had the art of inventing new musical instruments, being in the service of Louis XI. king of France, was ordered by that prince to get him a concert of swine's voices, thinking it impossible. The abbot was not surprised but asked money for the performance, which was immediately delivered him; and he wrought a thing as singular as ever was seen. For out of a great number of hogs, of several ages. which he got together, and placed under a tent or pavilion covered with velvet, before which he had a table of wood painted, with a certain number of keys, he made an organical instrument; and as he played upon the said keys, he, by means of little spikes, which pricked the hogs, made them cry in such order and consonance, as highly delighted the king and all his company
- I. Platt, "The Swine's Concert," A Library Of Wonders And Curiosities Found In Nature And Art, Science And Literature, 1884

My kind of guy. Shamelessly stolen from Futility Closet, my new favorite blog.

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