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MMD > Archives > March 2002 > 2002.03.13 > 02Prev  Next

"SOFI" - A Large American Orchestrion
By Craig Brougher

A lot of people have taken the time to write to tell me they would love
to hear SOFI in person.  Some of them have said it doesn't sound very
good to them, and others tell me how they love her.  From what I can
tell, the problem has in the past been the reproduction of the sounds
over the computer.

I think we have changed that somewhat, now.  The mp3 audio segment
samples (22 kHz, 56 kbits/sec rate) offered will at least give everyone
a somewhat better idea of what it sounds like, but nothing with this
reduced bit rate can match the latest digital CDs we've made, which
include 60 tunes.  They are clear and good quality overall.  I passed
out a few samples and have gotten back some appreciative comments
concerning their audio quality, and those CDs were my first try.  The
ones I have now are yet a bit better.

I've had a number of inquiries about SOFI, as to how I did certain
things, and there seems to be a lot of curiosity about the musical
arrangements, too.  George Bogatko arranged some of our very first
ones.  Three or more correspondents have requested a video that would
include the internal workings.  One fellow said that "Tea For Two" was
the best arrangement he had ever heard on anything, which was very nice
of him to say, although the audio quality of those earlier sound files
weren't too good, being too high-pitched.  So it took a good ear to
recognize what he was listening for.

SOFI has now about 100 songs in her repertoire and it's steadily
growing, since I really enjoy arranging new music for it.  I like
arrangements that I want to hear often, again and again, so I try to
make them fascinating to the ear and vary the styles of arrangement.
For instance, there is this version of "Anchors Aweigh" with
simultaneous reminiscent refrains of "Sailor's Hornpipe" and "Columbia,
Gem of the ocean" playing in synchronization, and then a Dixieland
version of the last chorus, with percussion solos, etc.  It's lots
of fun for me, anyway.

SOFI is an All American Orchestrion with American tastes, designed and
voiced to play American music (although she is partial to the classics
too).  Part of this ability is due to an effortless, quick percussion,
and wider range of expression so characteristic of American bands and
the musical arranging of the 1920's through the 40's.

You can learn quite a bit about her by going directly to the address
below.  You will see pictures of John Tuttle, George Bogatko and others
including myself, working on SOFI and helping set her up for the first
real performance of her life.  I want the visitors to this new page to
enjoy themselves during their visit and return from time to time, as
we do have many recordings which we are liable to change on occasion.
Quality sound files are huge, so we don't do the whole song -- maybe
a third to a half.

For those who may want a CD collection of orchestrion music, SOFI is
an example of what pneumatics and turn of the century technology is
capable of.  One professional rebuilder said he would not have believed
it until he heard it.  But the greatest satisfaction comes from those
who live in this area and drop by regularly, usually bringing friends
with them.


Craig Brougher

(Message sent Thu 14 Mar 2002, 01:34:13 GMT, from time zone GMT-0800.)

Key Words in Subject:  American, Large, Orchestrion, SOFI

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