I am reading with interest about the M Roll recutting project by Durrell
Armstrong. That is something badly needed for Cremonas. The M roll
(Marquette) was a scale equivalent to the O-roll scale. It really has
no advantages over the O-roll scale at all, to my knowledge. (It was
the orchestration that was often better).
The Marquette roll does have a pair of lock & cancel holes for piano
treble on/off that is automatic in the O roll, used for the solo pipes,
then in addition, they have "violin" pipes on/off, too! That's a waste
of real estate, in my opinion, used to allow the piano to play along with
solo pipes, too. However, it isn't a really great feature, and in some
Cremonas having only flutes and violin pipes, for example, you can get
passages that are blank because there was no xylophone. So you have to
tube the treble on/off to the pipes on/off anyway.
The primary difference between O-rolls and M rolls however, would
probably be the "Selector Play" holes, consisting of combinations of
"Fast Forward or Rewind, Counter For Selector, and Selector Play" which
allowed the roll transport system to find a selection on that roll and
play it by means of a split drum selector. This feature costs you
several more channels on the trackerbar that could be used to better
musical advantage, though. So unless your criteria is a selector system,
you are losing trackerbar channels.
I don't suggest opting for the M roll over the O roll, frankly. The O
roll has more capability than any other orchestrion roll of 9 to the inch
and 11-1/4" wide (and a vast library to choose from), with the exception
of the H roll. But the H roll isn't being cut any longer because of the
few numbers of Seeburg H's in existence, and the differences between O
and H formats are so insignificant anyway, that once you multiplex the O
roll, you've gone far past the capability of the normal H roll's format,
or most anything else as well, and the ease of doing it makes it almost
a requirement, anymore.
One further comment I could make about the M roll for the purpose of
building an orchestrion around it is the multiplexing problems you can
get into, as well as the fewer numbers of rolls around to do it with.
The M roll does support one extra solo rank of pipes, while the O roll
supports only one, giving the M roll 3 solo channels to the O roll's two.
Believe it or not, this isn't nearly as important as you might think.
With very little effort on your part, you can separate ranks of pipes
in the O orchestrion, too. But that isn't as important musically as the
overall number of playing notes, the coupled bass octave (and what can
be done with that by a clever arranger), and the fact that the extra hole
positions in the M roll are "used," so unless you tape over them, you
can't use them to multiplex with! That means, you have to "change" the
roll format, whereas in the O roll with a new trackerbar, you don't.
I can sell a modified O roll to play on someone else's machine, and it
will play normally. But that same roll, once I've multiplexed it, can
play my orchestrion with 4 ranks of pipes, all separately. The multi-
plexing I can do on O rolls won't affect the roll's performance on any
original instrument. I also have an "accompaniment" rank of pipes,
extending 30 notes from E3 to A6, which expands the music from any O roll
greatly! You think you are listening to a really huge orchestrion that
way. You can also multiplex percussions and add rhythm instruments,
simply by using the score, itself-- no extra holes.
Another way of looking at it is, if you do not care to multiplex, and
want to have two separate solo ranks of pipes and a xylophone instead of
two ranks of pipes that come on together, and a xylophone, then an M roll
is the way to go. That's at the expense of a good snare drum and wood
block and 78 playing notes, as compared to 64. That, to my mind, is just
too much of a trade-off!
Now, the arrangements for Cremona _are_ different, and some are very
very good! But frankly, it's going to be hard to beat some O rolls, too!
I have some O rolls that I think are better than anything I've ever heard
on a Cremona.