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The Battle of the Sewing Machines

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"The Battle of the Sewing Machines" by F. Hyde. New York: William A. Pond & Co., 1874.

Just over the transom via the American Folklife Center’s Facebook page, today is the birthday of Elias Howe, inventor of the sewing machine. Celebrate Howe’s gift, not only to the garment industry, but to mankind, with “The Battle of the Sewing Machines,” F. Hyde’s rhythmic impersonation of that old-fashioned sewing machine sound ca. 1874. The piece is illustrated with wonderfully surreal details that suggest the work of an industrial age Hieronymus Bosch.

Learn more about Howe and his invention on Today in History, and read interviews with garment industry employees in Working in Paterson: Occupational Heritage in an Urban Setting in  American Memory.

Comments (6)

  1. does the sound of the piece of music have anything in it which resembles sewing machine noises?

  2. Robin, the first 6 measures have the use of the tremolo with a short stop – this introduces the motif of a sewing machine sewing away on a line of stitching as far (and fast) as the person can push the fabric through the dogs, then stopping, regrouping and smoothing the material, and then proceeding again.
    I have heard it in life many, many times.
    After that, the sewing machine “sound” si simply the steady and rapid rise and fall of notes as the machine and sewer/seamstress moves the fabric around under the needle.
    Fun piece!

  3. Thanks for the comment Kirk!

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