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MMD > Archives > November 1998 > 1998.11.08 > 08Prev  Next

Nickelodeons Play in Strange Keys
By Johnny Lite

Robbie, judging from your knowledgeable responses to various posts,
I assume you can answer this.

On Biograph (and other) recordings of piano rolls by Jimmy Blythe,
recorded on Mike Montgomery's player piano, some songs are played in
odd keys (for stride blues), namely B (Fast Stuff), and D (Boogie
Woogie Blues).

Are these the keys Blythe recorded the songs in (he would have had
to have rather large hands) or did technology then (1920's) allow
transposing to other keys from the original recording?  These pieces
come from Capital rolls.

Thanks, Johnny Lite

 [ Most of the nickelodeon rolls produced by Columbia/Capital began as
 [ 88-note piano rolls, in the normal keys which the artists preferred.
 [ When the 88-note roll was edited for a nickelodeon roll, it was
 [ often transposed in pitch one or two half-notes, in order to pre-
 [ serve some treble notes (or maybe bass notes) which the editor felt
 [ were important.  Blythe plays in the standard "band" keys on all of
 [ the phono records I've heard.  Recent conversions of the Blythe
 [ nickelodeon tunes back into 88-note rolls don't attempt to correct
 [ the pitch back to a "normal" key.  -- Robbie

(Message sent Mon 9 Nov 1998, 02:14:54 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  Keys, Nickelodeons, Play, Strange

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