"An orchestrion, if you’re wondering, is like a souped-up player piano from the early 1900s. These automatic music machines encased in beautiful wood cabinets don’t just play piano but also drums, bells, and pipes that can imitate violins as well as woodwinds and horns. As MP3 players get smaller and smaller, certain people are rejecting this miniaturization of the music-listening experience and full-on embracing orchestrion nostalgia."
If you are interested in these machines I'd also suggest that you check out House on the Rock outside on Madison Wisconsin where you will find several mamoth version of these mechanica music boxes include the very steampunk Organ Room.
I've been sitting on this one for awhile and I can't tell you how excited I am to tell you about it. Quite possibly the coolest way to way to make weird noises, Marv is a MIDI Actuated Robotic Vibraphone created by Tim O'Keefe, Michael McIntyre, and Brock Roland at the SFSU School of Engineering.
Marv is made up by several large banks of solenoids- both for striking and dampening the keys. Marv is an extremelly well documented robot- the site has extensive technical details as well as tons of photos, links, diagrams, and videos.
I chose the above video- the night of Marv's "birth" (first succesful run) because I love, and can sympathise, with the feeling of the late night in the lab, windows dark, everyone else gone home, anxious and terrified to see if with a single press of a button, your creation will come alive.