With its spaceship-like design, rock and sci-fi melodies and innovative resonance soundboard, MusicMachine 2 (MM2) boldly goes where no music box has gone before. Underneath its futuristic guise, MM2 features all the traditional elements of a beautifully-crafted, high-end music box made by REUGE, the music box manufacturer with nearly 150 years of expertise and experience.
MusicMachine 2 is powered by two independent movements mounted on the starship’s tail section. Each cylinder plays three melodies: themes from Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Star Trek, on one 'channel'; Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven, The Rolling Stones’ Angie and The Clash’s Should I Stay or Should I Go? on the other. Small wonder: MM2 was conceived and designed by MB&F and its songs have been selected by their rock ‘n’ roll founder and sci-fi fan, Maximilian Büsser.
One of the biggest challenges of MusicMachine 2 was in amplifying the sound. An ingenious solution was raised and developed by Jeanmichel Capt of JMC Lutherie, who created a bespoke soundboard featuring NomexTM – a type of honeycomb-structured Kevlar – sandwiched between two resonant 350-year-old spruce membranes. Only one in 10,000 spruce trees has the exceptional acoustic properties required. Selected trees are cut down in November when sap flow is minimal and the timber is then dried for five to ten years. The result is a clear, loud, pure sound, supremely rich in timbre.
Following on from the first MusicMachine, launched in 2013 and featuring a streamlined space shuttle design, MM2 is the second instalment in what will be a memorable trilogy of MusicMachines.
MusicMachine 2 is a limited edition of 33 pieces in white and 66 pieces in black.
REUGE – the premier manufacturer of music boxes in the world
With nearly 150 years of expertise and experience, REUGE is positioned as the only premier producer of music boxes in the world today. While REUGE has a comprehensive collection of both classical and contemporary music boxes, the brand also prides itself on its ability to create bespoke pieces or limited series – like the MusicMachines – for discerning clients. The REUGE mentality is to respect tradition, but at the same time move forward with beautiful contemporary music boxes for the 21st century.
It was in 1865 that Charles Reuge established his first musical pocket-watch shop in Sainte-Croix, Switzerland. Charles Reuge was a pioneer, managing to incorporate a musical cylinder and a miniature comb into a watch movement. His son Albert Reuge converted the family's atelier into a small factory in 1886 and REUGE musical movements began to feature in the most unlikely of objects, including powder compacts and cigarette lighters.
Guido Reuge, who presided over the brand for much of the 20th century, built the current REUGE manufacture in Sainte-Croix in 1930 and expanded the company. In the 1960s and ‘70s, REUGE diversified, taking over the manufacture and marketing of mechanical singing birds of Bontems and Eschle and also developed the skills and capacity to create or replicate virtually any melody. Since 2006, Kurt Kupper has been CEO of REUGE. Under his guidance the brand has developed a particular ability to customise and create bespoke music boxes.
JMC Lutherie – pioneering guitar makers and creators of the Soundboard loudspeaker
Based in Le Brassus in Switzerland’s Vallée de Joux, JMC Lutherie was co-founded in 2005 by luthier Jeanmichel Capt and CEO Céline Renaud, one of the top 20 leading women in Swiss business according to Bilan magazine. JMC harnesses the incredible talents of Capt and the exceptional acoustic properties of 350-year-old resonance spruce wood sourced from the nearby Risoud Forest.
A research and teaching partner at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne (EPFL) and the School of Business and Engineering Vaud (HEIG-VD), Capt is a visionary stringed instrument maker. He has taken time-honoured luthier techniques and fused them with a decidedly scientific approach exploring the audio-acoustic possibilities of resonance spruce.
It was Capt who developed JMC’s pioneering Soundboard high-fidelity loudspeaker. Launched in 2007, the Soundboard features strategically-placed transducers on a cambered spruce and NomexTM membrane to produce ultra-pure sound rich in timbre for a unique listening experience.
JMC has also used this venerable wood to create an Acoustic Docking Station loudspeaker for smartphones as well as resonance trays and cylinders for a number of haute horlogerie brands to showcase the full auditory splendour of their minute repeater watches.
“Wooden soundboards traditionally feature on stringed instruments such as violins, guitars and pianos,” says JMC Lutherie’s CEO Céline Renaud. “The board is vibrated by the strings, creating the same frequencies and all harmonics. In MusicMachine 2, it is the music box movements, rather than strings, that generate the sound energy. Not only does MM2’s Soundboard amplify the sound, but the presence of the resonance spruce offers warmth, roundness, power, precision and colour to the sound, which is the meaning of music.”
MusicMachine 2’s internal soundboard features two wooden membranes made from 350-year-old resonance spruce from the Risoud Forest in Switzerland, where long, cold winters and poor soil lead to slow tree growth, occasionally producing an extremely dense wood boasting superlative acoustic properties. Each resonant tree has been selected by one man, lifelong ‘tree gatherer’ Lorenzo Pellegrini. The selection process involved much observation and know-how, including hugging each trunk to see if it was straight enough to create a sufficiently resistant soundboard.
Such is the criteria for selecting appropriate wood that only one in 10,000 spruce trees is good enough to feature in a soundboard! The tree is cut down in November during a waning moon when the tree is in its driest state. The wood is left to dry for a further five to ten years and then prepared at specialist sawmills and cut into quarters. A primer is used to close the wood fibres before a non-penetrating varnish is applied.
“Usually, to generate good frequencies and loud volume, you would increase the size of the soundboard,” says Jeanmichel Capt. “But with MusicMachine 2, we were limited by the size of the main dome, so we created a board that effectively makes the sound of two soundboards!”
To achieve this, Capt sandwiched the two spruce membranes around NomexTM, a honeycomb-structured variant of Kevlar, fixing them together with special luthier glue applied using a vacuum press and paying close attention to their thickness.
To complete the puzzle, JMC still needed to connect the soundboard to the music box movements on MusicMachine 2’s tail fin, and so, in tandem with the REUGE team, they created the specially-shaped tail boom made of aluminium, a material selected for its sound-conducting properties. JMC engineered the end of the boom so that it makes optimal contact with the carbon bar and is placed at the ‘sweet spot’ of the soundboard.
Finally, JMC also helped REUGE to isolate the zone on the mainplate from where most sound energy emanates – where the combs are fixed with heat-blued screws. This isolation enables the retention of as much sound energy as possible so it channels down the tail boom, through the carbon rod, through the NomexTM honeycomb and across the spruce of the soundboard.
While the tail boom essentially performs the function of a bridge to transmit the vibrations – just like on a guitar or a violin – the vent holes in the resonance dome act like a hole on a guitar, letting out the sound from the soundboard.
MUSICMACHINE 2 BLACK
Limited edition of 66 pieces
BLACK LACQUER WITH ALUMINIUM DOME
MUSICMACHINE 2 White
Limited edition of 33 pieces
WHITE UV-RESISTANT LAQUER WITH ALUMINIUM DOME
MusicMachine 2 is a limited edition of 33 pieces with white finish and 66 pieces with black finish