At Seabreeze Amusement Park we have a complete collection of every
existing Style 165 band organ roll made by Wurlitzer, T.R.T, and many
modern arrangers. The tunes on those rolls are mostly tunes that were
red-hot sellers at the time the roll was issued. Today only a few of
them are identifiable by the people who hear them now. Even "God Bless
America" seems to draw a blank.
For that reason I despair of trying to provide "modern music." A tune
will be modern for only a few years, then it will sink into the oblivion
that a thousand or so other tunes have sunk into.
Today at Seabreeze we happened to be playing two 12-tune composite
rolls, 6680-6683 and 6681-6682. Very few of the tunes are recognizable
ones; maybe "Alexander's Ragtime Band" or "Beer Barrel Polka" might
have been. But those two rolls were clearly a big hit with the public
-- you could tell by the attention being paid to the band organ and the
way people were picking up and reading the organ fact sheet that we
What did the trick, I think, was not the question of how modern or how
recognizable the tunes were, but how lively and well-arranged they
were. Those two music rolls are full of toe-tapping fox trots and
really good waltzes, all with a strong, compelling beat that makes you
want to dance or hum along.
In short, I don't think it is a question of modern music vs. old stuff,
but a question of melody, rhythm, beat, and most of all, clever arranging
of whatever tune is chosen, old or new.
Irondequoit, New York