Ballet Méchanique was a project created by composer George Antheil and filmmaker Fernand Léger in 1924. The musical score composed by Antheil was so radical that it could not actually be played at the time due to technical limitations.
Antheil wanted to syncronize 16 player pianos as well as airplane propellers and a siren for the composition.
Fast forward 70 years and the piece was discovered by Paul Lehrman, a composer and teacher at Tufts University. He had the piece performed as it was intended for the first time in 1999 in Lowell Massachusetts, thanks in part to Eric Singer and LEMUR or League of Electronic Musical Urban Robots and the use of MIDI or Musical Instrument Digital Interface.
Eric Singer has also created musical robots for groups like They Might Be Giants and Pat Metheny among others.
He and Paul Lehrman worked together and brought the Ballet Méchanique to life.
Since the first show in 1999, the piece has been performed numerous times, including at the National Gallery in Washington DC.
Shown here is MusikFabrik with airplane propellers performing Ballet Méchanique in Germany in 2002.
Click through to see the robotic instruments perform Ballet Méchanique at the National Gallery.