Another comment one might make in regard to dual beater snare drums
is the fact that there are really a lot of snare effects that orches-
trions cannot take advantage of unless they have one reiterating beater
and one single stroke beater. The most important effect that comes to
mind are the accents during the execution of a drum roll. Sometimes,
you want the tempo maintained on the snare while it is rolling. The
only way to do that is to accent with the tap beater during the snare
The "O" roll snare drum can also be given a wide latitude of expression
because of its dual beater system, and nothing is better than snare
expression when it comes to really squeezing out rhythm. A drum that's
beaten without expression sounds basically like a "war in a toy store."
There is no particular musical value, except occasional punctuation,
so that's how most of them play -- so that they don't drive you out of
When snare drums have only one reiterating beater, the performance
becomes marginal for both tap and roll effect, because to safely catch
the taps without an occasional multiple beat that sounds like a "rip,"
you must slow the reiterater down a bit until the drum roll speed is
about half (or maybe a little less) of what a realistic drum roll
should sound like. This works by limiting the percussion in the
Another problem with single beaters is that once you have set the speed
down, and compromised so that they will catch the occasional single
tap that comes along, they aren't as noticeable to soft expression, so
now you have to do some juggling with everything so that your snare
(which is the single most important percussion in an orchestrion) will
perform reliably, regardless what else may be playing at the time, and
regardless of the hole size in a recut roll, tracking, etc.
This is why I have always felt that the "O-roll" orchestrion scale
allows for the finest design for the most effortless, easy and natural
snare drum that exists in automatic music. This doesn't take away from
the musical originality of other scales (and their characteristic
sound), since those rolls allow for the limitations in that specific
instrument, and their musicians considered what would otherwise become
a problem by arranging their music accordingly.