Most types of musical instrument can be played in the street but there are some that have evolved especially for that purpose.


montmartre barrel organ


This vintage orgue de Barbarie is a mobile street organ, equipped with wheels, handlebar and bell for easy maneuvering.  With the notes of each tune pre-recorded on a stack of punched cards, playing the instrument is a matter of muscle rather than musical skill, leaving the organist free to smoke and chat while he turns the handle.



This busker is an accomplished musician using a small organ to accompany her own whistling and singing.  It was only when I came to look at my photos that I noticed the second organ to the right also has keys.  I didn’t stop long enough to hear her play that one, or the musical saw!


Montmartre barrel organ


These small street organs might be called barrel organs in English but technically that name doesn’t fit as they are operated by punch cards, not by pins in a cylinder, like a musical box. The French orgue de Barbarie covers all the variants.  These two were in action in Montmartre on Monday.  I’ll be looking out for more.

(Click on any photo for a closer view)