Updates to the 2018 Ivory Act: What do They Mean to Me?

We’re all well aware of the reasons behind the tight regulations associated with ivory trade in the UK. However, on the 6th of June (2022) things changed and we, as instrument owners, need to be aware of them. It is now illegal to sell, or advertise for sale in the UK, a musical instrument with […]

Recovering Small Playing Pneumatics

Recovering Small Playing Pneumatics Recovering the small playing pneumatics is one of the more common jobs done when restoring pneumatic instruments such as player pianos, reproducing pianos and orchestrions. It is very rare to find an instrument still playing with its pneumatics still covered with their original material. Even if they look serviceable it is […]

The Original ‘Pianola’

The Original ‘Pianola’ In the years before the 1914-18 war a challenge faced the British piano industry – the development, mainly in the United States, of the playerpiano. If the girls of 1840 had wanted music that was ‘brilliant but not difficult’, the girls of 1900 wanted music that sounded brilliant without the need for […]

Technical Tips

When did you last ‘play’ a test-roll on your pianola? Some of us use the test-roll on a regular basis, perhaps to check that the speed of the air-motor is correct, or to ensure that each note of the action is playing and repeating correctly. To those who never use one, fearing perhaps that it […]

Senor Granados Records for the Duo-Art Library

Senor Granados Records for the Duo-Art Library Famous Spanish Composer Plays Several Selections for the Aeolian Co. Is Enthusiastic Over the Accurate Reproduction of His Own Technique on the Duo-Art Pianola. The Aeolian Co., New York, carried a remarkable advertisement on Sunday, featuring an interview with Senior Granados, the eminent Spanish composer, relative to the […]

Our New President

Our New President At the Musical Museum AGM it was announced that the Player Piano Group had recently appointed the London-based Australian pianist Piers Lane as its new President. He succeeds Peter Katin, who served for many years in that office, but died in March 2015. Piers Lane’s English father and Australian mother met while […]

Chaminade’s Op. 165: The making of the PPG’s 2020 Special Roll

Fig. 1 The opening bars of Cécile Chaminade’s Nocturne, Op. 165. History Cécile Chaminade, one of the most represented composers on piano roll, requires no introduction to the player piano owner. She features within almost every piano roll catalogue as well as much literature and promotional material. In particular, with regard to the Aeolian Company, […]

Memories of Fran(c)k Laffitte

Equinox is the title of a piano piece written in 1922 by John Ireland. It is of great rhythmical complexity, with quintuplets in the right hand set against many different metrical divisions in the left. The overall effect is fascinating, though elusive. Eric Parkin, who recorded the piece in 1977, wrote: ‘its relentless right-hand figure […]

The love that dare not speak its name?

The Yamaha Disklavier My first encounter with a Yamaha Disklavier came at a social meeting with Gladys Harris in 1989. It was black, glossy and upright and made by Yamaha. Despite being advised by our host to ‘clear your mind of all prejudice and just listen to the music’, I, being a young diehard, thought […]

The North Tonawanda Pianolin

We are all familiar with the basic player piano, using conventional bellows feeders, paper roll music, pouch operated valves of both primary and secondary variety, and suction pneumatics which operate the piano action. Self-playing pianos have been around for over 150 years, in various guises, and have been subject to development over that period. Early […]

The Centenary of the Duo-Art

The First Announcement of the Duo-Art Pianola piano: Patrick Handscombe

Star of the moment – Lemuel Fowler

In August 1923, QRS launched its rolls on the race market in earnest. Newspapers in Baltimore, Chicago and New York carried adverts proclaiming that ‘seven well-known Negro composer-pianists have been added to the QRS corps of recording artists thereby insuring for its patrons a still larger variety of unquestioned interpretations of Negro music’. The best-known […]

What is a Player Piano?

Have you ever listened to a pianist and thought to yourself “I wish I could play like that”? With a player piano you can play like that. It allows anyone to be a musician without first learning the complex technical skill of playing the piano. By automating the task of operating the piano keys, it […]

On Playing the “Pianola”

This article appeared both in ‘The appreciation of music by means of the “Pianola” and “Duo-Art”‘ by Percy A. Scholes, Oxford University Press, 1925, and as a separate booklet by the Aeolian Company to accompany the Themodist ‘Pianola’ Practice Roll, which is reasonably common and well worth using. In view of the statement that ‘a […]

The Reproducing Piano

These are player pianos that contain additional mechanisms to automatically recreate pre-programmed musical dynamics encoded onto their music rolls. The rolls and mechanisms endeavour to reproduce the effect of a live performance, hence the term ‘reproducing piano’. They can be extremely effective when properly restored and regulated and their recordings are now regarded as of […]

The History of the Player Piano

The idea of automatic musical devices can be traced back many centuries. The idea of using pinned barrels to operate percussion mechanisms (such as striking bells in a clock) was perfected long before the invention of the piano. These devices were later extended to operate musical boxes, which contain a set of tuned metal teeth […]