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Repair common music box problems

Most problems with a music box are caused by a malfunction of the starter. Fortunately, these malfunctions can usually be repaired at home.

Most often, music box problems are caused by a malfunction of the starter. Fortunately, it is often that the starter can be repaired at home, without having to take the music box to a repair shop.

Use extreme care when working with the music box`s mechanisms, as you will be working in a small space, where the musical components can become damaged by a slip of the hand. If you have a warranty on your music box, it can become void if you attempt to repair the box yourself.

Wire Starter

A music box with a wire starter begins to play when the lid is opened, and stops playing when the lid is closed. Opening the box releases pressure on a metal stick. A spring pushes the metal stick up, and as this happens, a connected wire moves down, which releases the air brake, allowing the music box to play it`s tune.

If the music box will not play, open the lid, and take a look at the wire. If it is touching the air brake, it`s preventing the tune from playing, as it would in the closed-lid position.

a) Try changing the angle of the spring with a small pair of pliers. If the box begins to play, but does not stop when you close the lid, try adjusting the wire, repeatedly; up, down, left, and right.

b) If wire adjustments don`t work, try pulling up the metal stick. If the stick seems to catch, it may be slightly bent, and should be replaced.

Button Starter

When the button starter is pushed to the right, a metal plate attached to the button moves the starter mechanism, releasing a latch from the wheel of the cylinder. This releases the air brake, causing the music box to play.

If the tune does not play, there may a be a problem with the distance between the plate and the starting mechanism.

a) Check the button mechanism for a loose nut, and tighten, if needed.

b) Adjust the plate, making it is closer to the starter mechanism.

String Pull Starter

String pull starters are often used in toys for babies and small children. When the string is pulled, a stuffed animal speaks, or sings a lullaby. The music plays until the spring winds down.

If you don`t feel any resistance when you pull the spring, the spring could be disconnected from the gear train, or broken. This should be repaired by a professional.

Musical components can become oxidized or corroded over long periods of time. If the string was pulled, but not allowed to wind down for a very long period of time, the mechanism may stick.

a) If you can access the musical components, use a pin-point oiler to apply a few drops of WD-40 to the key base. If this doesn`t loosen the mechanism, then add a small bit of lubricant to the base, center, and top, of the endless screw assembly.

Pin Starter

Pin starters are often used in toy music boxes that have small musical movements. The pin blocks the air brake. When it is pulled, the music begins to play, as the brake is released. When the pin is pushed in, the box stops playing.

a) If the box does not play, take a look inside at the starting mechanism and musical movement. If the pin is too long, it will not allow the movement to play. It needs to be replaced or filed down.

b) If the box does not stop playing when you push in the pin, try adjusting the positioning of the movement. If this does not help, the pin may be too short, and unable to block the air brake. To lengthen the pin, add a bit of tape at the end.

Shakespeare, Newton, and Beethoven, or Patterns of Creativity

In April 1975 the legendary astrophysicist, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, delivered the Nora and Edward Ryerson Lecture entitled Shakespeare, Newton and Beethoven, or Patterns of Creativity at the University of Chicago. In this talk Chandra, as he was affectionately known to his colleagues, students and admirers, ranged over the oeuvres of three rara avises - Shri Shakespeare, Shri Beethoven and Shri Newton - each representing the ne plus ultra of human accomplishment in their respective domains.

Chandra, in addition to his extraordinary scientific acumen and achievement, was a man of high culture. It should come as no surprise then that this bel esprit would strive to apprehend the deeper connections and meaning underlying the twin realms of Art and Science. Professor Chandrasekhar used to call himself an atheist when pressed for his belief system. A perusal of this lecture transcript, however, reveals him to be a deeply religious man, in the sense best described by Goethe:

He who has Art and Science also has religion

But those who do not have them better have religion.

Chandra was a gyAna yogi is the true sense of the term. An estimation of his full measure is to be found in the biography Chandra by Kameshwar C. Wali (1991, University of Chicago Press). Wali's second book S. Chandrasekhar - The Man Behind the Legend (1997, Imperial College Press) carries personal recollections by several of Chandra's distinguished friends, family and associates; they furnish rare glimpses of human interest of this fiercely private man. In the essay "My Everlasting Flame" his wife, Lalitha, reminisces thus:


There is another thing that Chandra will be remembered at this [University of Chicago]. This was put in a nutshell by President Hutchins to me when Chandra and I went over to hear a lecture of his Mr. Hutchins then held both my hands and said to me, "The best thing I did for the University of Chicago was to appoint your husband to the faculty" A year later we were in Santa Barbara Mr. Hutchins received us graciously and again as we were leaving, he took my hands and repeated, "The best thing I did for the University of Chicago was to appoint your husband to the faculty"

Now why did Mr. Hutchins make this statement to me on two different occasions? There is no question he must have remembered how Dean Gale of the Physics Department had refused to allow Chandra to lecture at the campus. The refusal was blunt: he did not want this black scientist from India to lecture in his department. Hutchins had written a one-line reply to Mr. Struve, the Director of the Yerkes Observatory, who had been in a dilemma, and brought the matter to Hutchins' attention. "Mr. Chandrasekhar shall give his lectures." The lectures were given and many who had heard them have remarked about their mathematical elegance. The full impact of Hutchins' remark to me was that Chandra had paved the way for other non-white members to be appointed to the faculty.

His brother, P. Balakrishnan, divulges an excerpt of his moving letter to Chandra in the final years:

Another thing that I want to write to you is in regard to your "st range feeling", as you put it, that all your books, all your hard work, when the books have been written and the work has been done, seem not to be yours, seem to be something extraneous, entities by themselves, separate and different from you. This is a mystic intimation, on the intellectual level, proclaimed by the Upanishads which in fact extends this sense of non-cognition even to one's body, senses and mind. (Note that the mind is included in the list.) The Gita also teaches that once you have performed your work, you should have no further concern with it and that it belongs to God. I see that after all Hindu blood runs in you.

The transcript of the Ryerson Lecture is taken from Chandra's book Truth and Beauty (1987, University of Chicago Press) and is replayed here on Sawf with permission of the publisher. Perhaps someday someone will be inspired to ruminate likewise on "Kalidasa, Shankara, and Thyagaraja."

Warm regards,

Rajan P. Parrikar

< -- S. Chandrasekhar (1910-1995)

Prefacing a somewhat derogatory criticism of Milton, T. S. Eliot once stated that "the only jury of judgement" that he would accept on his views was that "of the ablest poetical practitioners of his time." Ten years later, perhaps in a more mellow mood, he added: "the scholar and the practitioner, in the field of literary criticism, should supplement each others' work. The criticism of the practitioner will be all the better, certainly, if he is not wholly destitute of scholarship; and the criticism of the scholar will be all the better if he has some experience of the difficulties of writing verse." By the same criterion, any one who is emboldened to ask if there are discernible differences in the patterns of creativity among the practitioners in the arts and the practitioners in the sciences, must be a practitioner, as well as a scholar, in the arts as well as in the sciences. It will not suffice to be a practitioner in the arts only, or in the sciences only. Certainly, a wanderer, often lonely, in some of the by-lanes of the physical sciences, has simply not the circumference of comprehension to address himself to a question which encompasses the arts and the sciences. I, therefore, begin by asking your forbearance.

Allowing, as we must, for the innumerable individual differences in tastes, temperaments, and comprehension, we ask: Can we in fact discern any major differences in the patterns of creativity among the practitioners in the arts and the practitioners in the sciences? The way I propose to approach this question is to examine, first, the creative patterns of Shakespeare, Newton, and Beethoven, who, by common consent, have, each in his own way, scaled the very summits of human achievement. I shall then seek to determine whether, from the likenesses and the differences in the patterns at these rarified heights, we can draw any larger conclusions which may be valid at lower levels.


I begin with Shakespeare.

Shakespeare's education was simple, as Elizabethan education was. While it sufficed and stood him in good stead, Shakespeare was never persuaded by scholarship as such. He clearly expressed his attitude in

Small have continual plodders ever won

Save base authority from others' books.


Oh, this learning, what a thing it is!

Even so, when Shakespeare arrived in London in 1587, at the age of twenty-three, he had none of the advantages of a London background that Lodge and Kyd had, or the advantages of years at Oxford or Cambridge that Peele, Lyly, Greene, Marlowe, and Nashe had. There can be little doubt that Shakespeare was acutely aware of his shortcomings and his handicaps. He overcame them by reading and absorbing whatever came his way. The publication of the revised second edition of Holinshed's Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland, was particularly timely: it provided Shakespeare with the inspiration for his chronicle plays yet to come.

By 1592, Shakespeare had written his three parts of Henry VI and his early comedies, The Comedy of Errors, Love's Labour's Lost, and Two Gentlemen of Verona. His success with these plays produced Robert Greene's vicious attack on him in that year. Greene was six years older than Shakespeare, and he was among the most prominent figures in the literary life of London at that time. As it happened, Greene's attack was posthumous, as he had died somewhat earlier as the result of a fatal banquet, it is said, "of Rhenish wine and pickled herrings." It was therefore "a time bomb which Greene left." His attack in part read:

For there is an upstart crow, beautified by our feathers, that with his "Tiger's heart wrapped in a player's hide," supposes he is as well able to bombast out a blank verse as the best of you, and being an absolute Johannes Factotum, is in his own conceit the only Shake- scene in a country.

Greene's attack brings out very dearly that Shakespeare was considered an outsider and an intruder: he had no university background and he did not belong to the aristocratic court circles.

In spite his early successes, life for Shakespeare, as a player and a playwright was fraught with uncertainties with the recurring years of the plague and the periodic closing of the theaters in London. But in 1590, Shakespeare found a patron, a friend, and love.

< -- Chandra receiving the Nobel Prize in Physics from King Gustav of Sweden (1983)

Shakespeare's patron was the young Earl of Southampton who came of age in 1591. The intensity of Shakespeare's emotional experience in the four years that followed was decisive for the development of his art and for the opportunities that opened up for him. Shakespeare's genius matured and flowered with an unexampled outburst of creative activity. Besides the plays already mentioned, he wrote The Merchant of Venice, The Taming of the Shrew, and Richard III. The two splendid narrative poems, Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece, dedicated to the Earl of Southampton, belong to this same period.

During 1592-95, Shakespeare wrote his sonnets as a part of his services for Southampton's patronage. The sonnets are the most autobiographical ever written. They throw a flood of light on Shakespeare's attitude to himself and his art; and they also reveal the extent of his dependence on Southampton's friendship and patronage.

The course of the friendship between Southampton and Shakespeare was by no means smooth. There was the difference in their ages; there was the disparity in their stations, as the aristocratic patron and a player poet; and besides, there was the complication of Shakespeare's mistress - the dark lady of the sonnets - turning her attention away from Shakespeare to the responsive Earl. Shakespeare poured his feelings with poignant sincerity into the sonnets:

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