Re: Stahnke Roll Archival Methodology (part 2)
By Wayne Stahnke
I am pleased to make your acquaintance by e-mail. It is always nice to meet someone who shares our mutual interest in rolls and scanning. This note is in response to your questions in the Automatic Music Digest dated 96.03.06.
Cakewalk is entirely adequate for examining selected portions of the scanned roll image in detail. It displays only a small part of the roll on the screen; this is a disadvantage if you want to see an overview, but it is very useful for examining particular regions for the purpose of comparing them with the paper roll. You cannot examine the entire roll by eye in any event; there are approximately 1,000,000 punch positions in the roll, so you will have to be satisfied with spot-checking individual areas that you find to be of special interest. If you want to examine the entire roll in overview, have Richard Tonnesen perforate a new copy of the roll for you from 68283B.MID and superimpose this new roll over an original roll made in the 1920s. The paper that Richard uses is translucent and lends itself very nicely to this sort of visual comparison.
It is a mistake to try to play the file 68283B.MID. Although the file bears the ".MID" extension, it is not a MIDI file. Rather, it is a file image of the (recreated) master roll used to perforate Ampico Roll No. 68283. More correctly, it is a translation of the roll image from my proprietary roll image data format into MIDI file format for interchange purposes. To hear the performance, you need a program that models the behavior of Ampico instruments. For a (translated) true MIDI file suitable for playing, I suggest you get in touch with Robbie Rhodes (firstname.lastname@example.org) who will most likely be willing to perform the translation for you. (Robbie: My thanks in advance for helping James and others who want to hear this performance.)
To answer your final question, note that Ampico Roll No. 68283 occupies approximately 23 kilobytes when compressed by Jody Kravitz for dissemination. Taking this size as an average (the roll is about 10 m long, and therefore typical of Ampico rolls), we find that 150 megabytes of storage would contain the entire Ampico library of 6000 rolls. I assume that if this body of work were available, somewhere there would be someone who would be willing to copy the entire library onto the "modern" storage medium every 20 years or so. (Note that currently a single CD-ROM has a capacity of more than 600 megabytes, sufficient to contain all Ampico, Duo-Art, and Welte-Mignon rolls). Such copying would take only about an hour. I am not concerned about long-term data loss nearly as much as I am about the deterioration and possible destruction of the original paper rolls, which appear to be near the end of their useful life.
Finally, let me suggest that since we now have the ability to make exact copies of the rolls, an interested party (not me!) could perforate new rolls from the (recreated) master rolls and start the aging cycle anew. The rolls would not necessarily have to be made from paper, as in the 1920s; a more suitable substrate might be mylar or some other long-lasting synthetic material.
(Message sent Thu 7 Mar 1996, 19:36:32 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)