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MMD > Archives > February 2001 > 2001.02.02 > 06Prev  Next

Style 'A' Rolls Arranged for Xylophone
By Art Reblitz

It's interesting to hear that certain Clark A rolls did have 4X
xylophone arranging.  It seems that the only Ray Siou A-roll recuts
in my collection with "xylophone roll" as part of their title are rolls
that he renamed; none has the 4X-style arranging.  I'll keep my eyes
and ears open for the real thing.

Incidentally, 4X-style xylophone arranging had its roots in Seeburg H
rolls, originally made by the coin-operated roll division of QRS.  In
January, 1920, Ernest Clark opened the Clark Orchestra Roll Co. in
DeKalb, Illinois.  Clark took over the production of coin-operated
rolls from QRS and continued to supply rolls to Seeburg under the name
"Automatic Music Roll Co."

In 1922, Oscar Nelson and Peter Wiggen, who had designed most of
Seeburg's mechanisms up until that time, left the Seeburg Piano Company
and opened the Nelson-Wiggen Piano Co.  This firm's first orchestrion
played G rolls and included a set of harmonium reeds, not xylophone.
(These orchestrions are extremely rare today.)

In the same year, Seeburg switched from pipes to xylophone as the
standard added instrument in its A-roll pianos.  Pipes could still be
ordered, but most Seeburg A-roll pianos with an extra instrument made
from 1922 on have xylophones.  From that same time on, the H orchestrion
was produced only on special order.

The earliest Seeburg xylophone A-roll pianos have xylophone components
that are similar to H xylophone mechanisms, a situation from which
I infer that the company was using pre-made H parts out of inventory
before switching to the slightly more compact parts usually seen in its
later xylophone A-roll pianos.

It wasn't until 1925 that Clark began selling 4X rolls, named after
the Nelson-Wiggen 4X cabinet-style orchestrion with piano, mandolin
attachment, xylophone, snare drum and triangle.  Within a year,
Automatic G rolls, which had previously featured pipe arrangements,
also included 4X arrangements.

Seeburg made its last regular production coin pianos and orchestrions
in 1928.  Seeburg stopped selling Automatic rolls in 1929, but Clark
continued to make 4X rolls until 1939 or 1940, and A rolls until 1941.

Art Reblitz

(Message sent Fri 2 Feb 2001, 16:55:14 GMT, from time zone GMT-0700.)

Key Words in Subject:  Arranged, Rolls, Style, Xylophone

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