Bender's Circus Callipe Banner
Calliope Home
Our Calliope
Our Sound
Our CD
About Us
Contact Us


© 2005-2021
Jan Bender

Bender Melodies



Our Unique Sound

Below are links to two samples of the special sound produced by our new Tangley Calliaphone. If you are familiar with steam calliopes or even old air calliopes, you will be surprised at the difference in sound. It is musical! It sounds like a brass pipe organ.

The calliope is being played using reproduced punched paper “A” Rolls. These rolls were used in several kinds of mechanical musical instruments in the early 1900’s.

Jan places a new roll on a metal frame as a roll rewinds inside the calliope.

You can hear our calliope by clicking on the links below. The music samples are taken from our CD, “Marvelous Marches”.

Because the samples have been digitally compressed, and you are listening to the sound through computer speakers, be assured that the live music is even better.

Be sure you have the volume turned up on your computer speakers so you can hear the sound. For better listening, we recommend that you use headphones.

[If you are using an older browser or are connecting to the internet through a phone line, each file could take up to 2 minutes to download. Newer browsers and broadband connections should play the music more promptly. The controls should appear in a separate browser window. The MP3 samples play using programs such as Quicktime, iTunes, Real Player, and Windows Media Player.]

Semper Fidelis   [MP3 file; 19 seconds; 332 KB]

Stars and Stripes Forever  [MP3 file; 21 seconds; 364 KB]

Semper Fidelis   [.wav file; 388KB]

Stars and Stripes Forever   [.wav file; 392 KB]


Swell shutters in hood

The swell shutters in the top of the hood over the calliope whistles are operated by a simple knob. In an outdoor setting such as a large fair, the open shutters provide an appropriate volume. With the shutters closed, the volume is reduced enough that it is possible to stand right next to the calliope and talk.



Back to Top

Bender Melodies Organ Grinder Just Friends





What kinds of music are on the rolls?

Most of our rolls are reproductions of original rolls; that is, they are the same songs and arrangements but they have been repunched in new strong paper. The original rolls were produced in the first half of the 20th century. At that time marches, fox trots, waltzes, ragtime, and jazz were popular. The music was written and played in many settings by American musicians. The up tempo tunes on the rolls reflect the period and the entertainment, such as circuses and vaudeville, associated with calliopes. The arrangements for these rolls are in a calliope style, i.e...notes in rapid sequence rather than big chords.



Guest Players
Occasionally, someone in the audience knows how to play a calliope. Below, Charlie Swank of Sunbury, PA stopped by to play our calliope for a few minutes at Knoebel’s Amusement Park in 2010, just as he did when we were there in 2004. Charlie has played keyboard instruments for 73 years.
Charlie Swank at Knoebels