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MMD > Archives > September 2003 > 2003.09.11 > 14Prev  Next

Wurlitzer Caliola Music Roll Mysteries
By Matthew Caulfield

Mike Knudsen's question about the Wurlitzer Caliola scale brought to
mind several questions about the conversion of Wurlitzer 165 band
organs to using the Caliola roll:  how, when, why?

The Caliola scale is chromatic, the Wurlitzer Style 165 band organ is
decidedly not, and furthermore has a separate trumpet or counter-melody
section.  Tom Grace has been trying to determine how a 165 organ was
tubed to make it play the Caliola scale, but so far he has not solved
that puzzle.  So that leaves the question of "how?" unanswered.

I don't believe any investigation has been done of the organs, like
the Glen Echo 165 and the Bies-Boehck 180 that were converted to play
the Caliola roll, to determine when that idea was thought up and first
implemented.  Wurlitzer went out of the roll business in 1946.  Was
the conversion process started by them or by their successor, T.R.T.
Manufacturing Company (Ralph Tussing)?  "When?" is not a major
question, but it might shed light on the mystery.

The major question to me is "Why?"  New style 165 rolls were being
produced every year up until 1967, at least one per year, often more.
Were Caliola rolls so much more plentiful that it was worth sacrificing
the 165 capability in order to use Caliola rolls on the 165 organ?

Caliola rolls certainly were not better musically, especially when
playing on a machine not designed to use them.  Was the sales potential
for Caliola/APP rolls so much greater than the potential for 165 rolls
from the 1930's onward that Wurlitzer and T.R.T. would cut oodles of
Caliola/APP's and no 165's except new releases?  I have a copy of Ralph
Tussing's roll-sale ledger (as far as he kept it) and it seems to show
healthy sales for all styles of band organ rolls.

Mysteries -- but not to lose sleep over.

Matthew Caulfield (Irondequoit, New York)

(Message sent Thu 11 Sep 2003, 14:12:43 GMT, from time zone GMT-0400.)

Key Words in Subject:  Caliola, Music, Mysteries, Roll, Wurlitzer

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