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MMD > Archives > January 2002 > 2002.01.27 > 04Prev  Next

Furthest Traveled Mechanical Music Item
By Douglas Henderson

Hello, MMD readers,  Not long ago, Douglas Heffer, my representative
in France who operates a music museum and 'Pneumatique Contemporaine',
was approached by a film company that wanted to recreate the making of
"Nanook of the North", the Pathe silent film documentary by Robert J.
Flaherty which chronicled the life of the natives beyond the Yukon.

The motion picture was to be called "Klabouak", the natives' term for
a white man, and the script called for a player piano as well as a roll
of "Preacher and the Bear".  The Artcraft roll was selected over the
bebop (swing? scat?) arrangement by QRS based on the Phil Harris 78 rpm
record, I should imagine, since this was supposedly the filmmaker's
favorite popular tune.

Where did the piano equipped with a selection of Artcraft rolls (from
the States) go?  To former Russia, which was going to "simulate" the
Yukon of the 1920s!  To my knowledge, the piano and rolls remained in
Russia, after the filming had taken place.

Now, when you consider that the rolls were created in Maine, in my
studio, duplicated by Play-Rite in California, processed and shipped
from Maine, to Paris, and then sent from France to somewhere in the
former Soviet Union, then I'd imagine that the music rolls had quite
a bit of 'mileage' on them.

My roll of "Preacher and the Bear" was based on an analysis of the
Edison cylinder records by Arthur Collins, of which several different
'takes' were studied, and it was a project in the mid-1980s suggested
by collector-rebuilder Ed Openshaw, who is now located in New Hampshire.
The bear growls and phrased monologue, which appear on the roll, were
adapted from the original audio recordings (after being transferred
to cassette tape).

Douglas Henderson - Artcraft Music Rolls
Wiscasset, ME 04578 USA

(Message sent Sun 27 Jan 2002, 03:23:26 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  Furthest, Item, Mechanical, Music, Traveled

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