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MMD > Archives > November 1998 > 1998.11.26 > 08Prev  Next


Wurlitzer 165 Registers & Control Problems
By Matthew Caulfield

[ Re "Mortier Organ Plays Wurlitzer 165 Music Rolls", MMD 981118 ]

I'm late with this, but as I mentioned, we are homeless now and I
haven't accessed MMD or other email for the past week.  In MMD for
98-11-18 Gordy Forcier wrote, about the register setup of the Wurlitzer
165 system:

> According to the tracker scale layout [which defines the Wurl. 165 music
> roll], hole number 2 is "brass trumpets and trombones on" and hole
> number 8 is "wood trumpets on".  Since most of the 165 and 166 organs
> have this, I ask you this question:  Why didn't Wurlitzer join the two
> trumpet ranks, and why two sets of trumpets?

> Second: when hole 52, the general cancel, goes into operation, there is
> a general fault for trumpets to remain on.  According to the music roll
> this is not supposed to happen.

>[ Gordy, which instrument has this problem: the Mortier or the
>[ standard Wurlitzer organ?  -- Robbie

I may misunderstand Gordy's first point, but my response would be
that not all Wurlitzer organs using the 165 roll have brass ranks to
complement the wood ranks.  The reason for having separate registers
controlling the brass and the wood ranks individually is to give greater
variety, nuance, and expression to the music punched into the roll.
The 165 system relies heavily on register operation for its musicality.

The 165 roll has a large number of register controls -- perhaps too
many -- all controlled by a single general cancel (except for the swell
shutters which are not closed by the general cancel, but by its own
cancel).  This leads to the problem Gordy notes in his second point.

The failure to cancel -- or more often the failure to lock and hold
in "on" position -- is inherent in the Wurlitzer 165 roll and register
system. It seems to depend on the amount of vacuum being used at a given
moment, on tightness and effectiveness of the unit blocks involved,
on the efficiency of the transfer chest that all dual tracker systems
are equipped with, on atmospheric conditions, and on the length and
positioning of the register perforations in a particular roll --
maybe even on cosmic forces in the universe unknown to us mortals.

I do know that some later Wurlitzer rolls don't effectively hold the
bells on in some passages, simply because the "bells on" perforation
doesn't extend far enough beyond the general cancel ("all off") per-
foration to allow the valves in the register chest to do their work.
So I take my hand punch and extend the guilty perforations.  It seems
that the ladies at Wurlitzer (or maybe men by that later period) were
a little lazy when punching the masters marked by the arranger,
with the result that we all suffer the consequences to this day.

Gordy, I'm sorry that my computer system is deaf and incapable of
handling sounds, so I can't provide the real-audio.  But I can send
Robbie a dub of the Mortier tape, if he wants to mount it on the MMD
web page.  There are some nice tunes there, and the Westminster chimes
in "Three O'Clock In The Morning" sound much prettier on the Mortier
than Wurlitzer's more clunky bells make them sound.

Matthew Caulfield


(Message sent Thu 26 Nov 1998, 18:17:50 GMT, from time zone GMT-0800.)

Key Words in Subject:  165, Control, Problems, Registers, Wurlitzer

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