Menu Close

Dropping sticks

Koenig Acoustical · Physics

This piece consists of eight flat rectangular wooden sticks in an open wooden case. Each stick is marked with a number, 1-8, and corresponding to notes in the musical scale. In addition, the case contains several sheets of paper containing songs that can be played by dropping the sticks in particular sequences. These songs are written in musical notation and in numbers corresponding to those on the sticks.

Accession Number:

Alternative Name:

Primary Materials: Wood, paper


The sticks are numbered 1-8. Stick 1 is stamped “Rudolph Koenig a Paris.” The sheets of paper indicate the sequences in which the sticks may be dropped to play songs: “Onward Christian Soldiers,” “O Canada,” “The Maple Leaf,” “Doxology,” “How Dry I Am,” “Toronto is Our University.”

Dimensions (cm):

Case with sticks: 4×23.5×10; Each stick: varying heightsx21x3


These sticks produce different notes when dropped.


Fair. The corners of the sticks are heavily chipped and worn, and much of the varnish has worn off. The sheets of paper are brittle and torn.

Associated Instruments:

Manufacturer: Rudolph Koenig

Date of Manufacture: c. 1880


University of Toronto Physics Department

Additional Information and References:

From the Koenig catalogue (1873 and 1889): “Eight wooden bars giving the musical scale when thrown in succession upon the floor.”

More information in Pantalony, David. Altered Sensations: Rudolph Koenig’s Acoustical Workshop in Nineteenth-Century Paris. New York: Singer, 2009. 176-177.

Historical Notes: