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Topic: Wonderful Video About Player Pianos & Piano Rolls

  1. #1

    Wonderful Video About Player Pianos & Piano Rolls

    Hi, everyone...

    After reading todays JazzWax posting, I looked at this:


    It explains how piano rolls are made.
    I found several things interesting:

    *The piano roll is still being made today.
    *The piano roll is the LONGEST-LASTING form of recorded music in history.
    *There's a machine in the factory that has produced a million parts a year since the turn of
    the century and still works perfectly today.
    *The production is run by an Apple ][ computer! (Mine escaped the flood and will again become part of my computer museum when I get time)

    Most telling to me is the statement that the piano roll was the turn-of-the-century equivalent of electronic music and MIDI. Let's see...note-on and -off...duration...velocity...tempo...expression controller...hmm.

    Check this out if your schedule permits!

    PS--If you are ANY kind of Jazz fan, PLEASE do yourself a favor and check out the JazzWax blog!!! www.jazzwax.com ...and reserve a few days to go through the archives at JazzWax...

    Jim Williams
    Professor of Capitalism
    Indianapolis Brass Choir
    All Your Bass Sus&Short Are Belong to Us.

  2. #2

    Re: Wonderful Video About Player Pianos & Piano Rolls

    I found it interesting when I discovered years ago that Percy Grainger was an early advocate of piano roll recording. He was interested in all new recording technologies of his time. There are extant piano rolls of his playing, and I believe they have been recorded and released on CD.
    In theory there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice there is.

    http://reberclark.blogspot.com http://reberclark.bandcamp.com http://www.youtube.com/reberclark

  3. #3

    Re: Wonderful Video About Player Pianos & Piano Rolls

    Since the turn of the century? 11 years doesn't seem that long.


  4. #4
    Senior Member rwayland's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    California Redwoods

    Re: Wonderful Video About Player Pianos & Piano Rolls

    Well, they were quite popular, were being overhauled and repaired by my shop not so long ago. There was a world of difference in quality of the various brands, and there are probably still some strongly, fanatical clubs supporting some brands. San Francisco had at least one Ampico club, and had many player pianos. Whatever their flaws, they all had one thing in common, that being the sound of the piano without mitigation by electrical devices. So if the player was installed in a Steinway, you got a real Steinway sound, etc. The Steinway with a Duo-Art player had the player mechanism mounted over the keys (inside of the case) between the pianist and the pin block, thus requiring a longer instrument, and longer keys, making a small grand look like a longer grand, but the tone quality made the difference quite noticeable. The Duo-Art player as installed in the Steinway was not the Duo-Art player which was later installed in some junk spinet pianos. The only resemblance was the name.

    The music rolls were not always faithful to the performance. They could and did have errors corrected, could have been recorded at slow speed, and some, I think, were made mostly without a live performer, as it was possible to mark a roll and then make appropriate holes.

    Nevertheless, I like them, particularly the Welte, which was quite often installed in inferior pianos. Ampico was often found in Knabe, as I remember, and it was a good combination.

    The drawback as I saw it was that rapid repetition was a problem, or at least was so on QRS instruments. When electronic player pianos were first introduced, they did not operate as well nor as fast as the vacuum operated older systems. I have not heard a newer electronic player, as those that I have attempted to use were non-operational.


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