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MMD > Archives > September 2003 > 2003.09.17 > 03Prev  Next


Aeolian Recording Piano of 1904
By Dan Wilson, London

[ In 1904, die Zeitschrift fuer Instrumentenbau wrote about the
 [ Aeolian Co. apparatus displayed at the Autumn Trade Fair:
 [
 [ "most wonderful device, whose ...  mechanism allows it to record
 [ pieces played on the piano with exact tempo, interpretation and
 [ ornamentation, and soon after to transfer them to the pianola."

Julian Dyer suggests in 030916 MMDigest that the Aeolian Co's device
was not a recording piano at all but an early Metrostyle-line marking
piano.  I can't defend my story with any orthodox evidence, and
wouldn't attempt it, if Julian could come up with something more solid
than surmise.

Would a pianola with a red pen on it throw the mighty Hupfeld works
into a frenzy of rejigging in the way described in the book?  I think
not; if anything, Welte-Mignon must have been the great threat.
However, it's not obvious from Hans W. Schmidt's article whether the
Aeolian machine being the cause for Phonola hand-played rolls being
developed was his own conclusion or was a legend handed down from 1904,
so this part of the story must remain lightweight.

But how would a plain Metrostyle marker record "ornamentation"?  If it
was more than a marker and recorded what happened on a keyboard, it was
a recording piano.

I don't know of any Metrostyle rolls known to have been recorded in
Germany.  Too long ago for me to remember the details, someone told me
the only Metrostyle marking piano in Continental Europe had been in
Belgrade.  The German firm "SM" made Themodist-Metrostyle rolls during
the Great War, but that was because the Choralion Co had been
sequestrated.  I suspect that Choralion's Metrostyle copying "tower"
was used.

Dan Wilson, London

 [ How many firms in 1904 were producing or developing piano playing
 [ mechanisms of 80 notes or more?  Which firms were developing machines
 [ to record the key positions (up/down) as the artist played?
 [ -- Robbie


(Message sent Wed 17 Sep 2003, 19:31:00 GMT, from time zone GMT+0100.)

Key Words in Subject:  1904, Aeolian, Piano, Recording

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