In the 1930’s, jazz dominated the American Music Market with the rise of new waves including big band and swing. A lesser-known form of jazz performance appeared towards the end of the decade; ‘The Amazing Musical Chair’.
Edwin Howard Armstrong, more famous for his development of FM radio waves, worked closely with iconic jazz musician Duke Ellington to develop an original working model in the late 1930s. Invented for performance it inspired young jazz musicians to master its difficult operation and entertain small audiences around New York.
The chair has physical instrument parts built into its structure, which are connected to a series of record players underneath. Each player controls a 78rpm record, holding 3 loops of a particular instrument. When a corresponding button was pressed on the control panels, the needle would contact the record and the loop would begin.
It was with the outbreak of World War II in 1939 that there was a decline in the chair’s performances. Many of the replica chairs were destroyed for their materials to aid the war effort, and all records of the original chair were lost.
\Today, advances in technology, resulting in modern mixing equipment, have surpassed the chair. However, the same basic principles are used in mixing as originally in ‘The Amazing Musical Chair’.
A brief historical documentary on "The Amazing Musical Chair" and its recent restoration, featuring archive footage of original performances.