When first built, the tone of this custom Jaymar® Upright Toy Piano from the 1930s came from metal rods (tines) that were struck with Bakelite® hammers, triggered by a simple keyboard action. It has been modified to use saucer bells as the tone source, giving the instrument a unique and haunting sound. We recorded this unique instrument with stereo close mics and room mics.
Toy pianos were originally made in Germany in the 1800s and have made regular appearances in popular music. American composers John Cage and George Crumb furthered its “serious” reputation by embracing the toy piano as a viable instrument in the concert hall. There is even an annual Toy Piano Festival at the University of California, San Diego.