Mechanical Music - Atlas Obscura
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Seattle, Washington

Mechanical Music

Learn about the history of mechanical music and how musical boxes work in this hands-on mini-workshop with Antiquarian Horologist Nico Cox.

Learn about the history of mechanical music, some basic principals on how musical boxes work, and assemble your own music box in this mini-workshop with Antiquarian Horologist Nico Cox.

Nico will start by giving a powerpoint presentation on the history of mechanical music and will showcase some extraordinary examples, from carillons to orchestrions. She'll give a short tour of the machines in her workshop and explain their use as related to mechanical music. After which, you'll decorate a simple wooden box using paint, papers, and other materials, which you will then mount a musical box mechanism to.

While you work, you'll get to listen to recordings of old steam calliopes, antique disc music box players, and mechanical organs for inspiration. Then, using a special paper punch, you'll explore your own musical composition. You'll leave this two-hour workshop with a music box, your original tune(s), a paper punch, and a set of music paper to continue composing at home.

About Nico Cox

Nico Cox holds international certifications in Swiss, American, and British horology, as well as a Masters in the Conservation of Clocks and related dynamic objects. She owns and operates Memoria Technica, an independent workshop in Seattle where she makes mechanical automata, toys, optical illusions, mechanical magic, and teaches heritage crafts. Her workshop includes a collection of machines from the original Bulova watchmaking factory.


  • A separate $35 materials fee will be paid directly to Nico Cox on the day of the class.
  • Address will be sent to registered attendees.
  • Please wear comfortable shoes. Participants will stand for long periods of time.
  • This workshop is limited to 8 attendees.


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Advance ticket sales only. All ticket sales are final. No refunds or exchanges.