Just a quickie. I re-read Mark Jefford's posting in MMD 06.04.04
and noticed Robbie's footnote quoting Hendrik Strengers' article in
To say the orchestrion was converted to play paper rolls is a little
misleading. The rolls were of a medium thickness card, perhaps twice
the thickness of a post card. The rolls were quite large as a result
and were housed in carriers which were loaded next to the key frame.
At the end of the tune the operator would have to re-wind the roll
using a handle on the end of the carrier. The key frame was not
keyless as stated, but was loaded with the usual mechanical keys.
Although this conversion may have seemed a good idea at the time
(easier storage of music as opposed to cumbersome barrels, bigger
musical repertoire, and better arrangements) it was some of the
arranging that was flawed. Whereas on the barrels the bass notes
would not have been subjected to staccato or long sustained trills,
this is in fact what happened on the rolls. In one passage in the
"William Tell Overture", where the distant rumble of drums was played
on the bass pipes, what you got was no music but instead the clatter
of the keys in the key frame and corresponding action noise. As you
all know, bass pipes on low wind pressures are notoriously slow to
I was never able to work out whether the conversion was done using an
existing system or weather it was tailor-made; either way, I was never
into the "who did what, when, where and why" -- it was the ingenuity
of the mechanisms that flicked my switch.
Paul Camps, UK