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MMD > Archives > February 2002 > 2002.02.03 > 05Prev  Next

Seeburg Mortuary Organ Rolls
By Bob Baker

In response to Randolph Herr's inquiry in 020202 MMDigest about the
Seeburg MO mortuary piano/pipe organ, here are the answers.  This unit
uses Seeburg MO rolls, which are multi-tune rolls with perforations
spaced 6 to the inch.  These rolls are 15-1/4" wide, the same width
as Seeburg SSS rolls (or H rolls or MSR Rolls).

In my experience, Seeburg MO rolls seem to feature liturgical music
suitable for funeral homes.  The Seeburg MSR rolls (for Seeburg
motion-picture players Styles M, S and R) also have the same
tracker-bar dimensions as the Seeburg MO rolls.

The book "Treasures of Mechanical Music", by Art Reblitz and Q. David
Bowers, page 279, shows that one should be able to play Seeburg MSR
rolls on a Seeburg MO mortuary piano/pipe organ, but certain orchestrion
effects such as tympani and drums will be left out.  Since Seeburg MSR
rolls are _a little_ bit easier to find than MO rolls, and since one's
friends will no doubt prefer hearing pop songs to "The Rugged Old
Cross," MSR rolls would provide a lighter class of fare.

In light of this discussion, I've unearthed an original Seeburg
Automatic Music Roll Company MSR-1097 entitled "Sacred" which has such
songs as "Old Rugged Cross," "Some Golden Daybreak," "No Night There,"
"Asleep in Jesus," "Safe in the Arms of Jesus," and others.  It appears
to have been made of the very same kind of waxed craft paper found in
Moeller Artiste rolls!  It's still usable despite being 80 years old!

Seeburg H roll specialist Terry Bourne, more than a few years ago,
related that Seeburg had a variety of stack types found in their line
of MO piano/pipe organs.  Seeburg's Celesta and Celesta Deluxe
instruments had one or two keyboards.  The single keyboard Celestas
used a long pallet-valve board to couple the instrument's piano keys
to the installed pipe organ notes.  The two-keyboard Celesta Deluxe had
the upper organ manual devoted to the organ notes, but included a very
clever pneumatic coupler assembly which permitted the roll data to play
both piano and pipe organ notes simultaneously.

The swell shutters built into the knee panel of the MO could be
operated automatically by the roll or manually by the pianist/organist.
Seeburg placed the rotary vacuum pump either inside the piano or
outside with the rotary fan in a separate utility enclosure.  A large
air-pressure reservoir was hung on the rear of the piano adjacent to
the 12 wooden stopped bourdons.

One can hear a similar sounding Reproduco piano/pipe organ on one of
the Vestal Press cassettes entitled (I think) "Bar Room and Theatre
Gems of the 20's".

Bob Baker

(Message sent Mon 4 Feb 2002, 02:08:09 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  Mortuary, Organ, Rolls, Seeburg

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