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MMD > Archives > June 2005 > 2005.06.04 > 11Prev  Next

How Did Wurlitzer Arrange Rolls?
By Matthew Caulfield

I have examined several very early (ca. 1915-1921) Wurlitzer band organ
roll masters and many late ones (1940-1967).  There is no evidence
suggesting that anything like a "recording organ" or a device similar to
the ingenious arranging piano that J. Lawrence Cook used at the QRS
factory was ever used to arrange, mark, or punch Wurlitzer masters.

Tim Trager owns one of the original Wurlitzer arranging tables at which
Sylvia Schultz -- and probably other now-anonymous arrangers -- sat to
do the marking of the master cardboard.  I have a picture of Ralph
Tussing sitting at a similar Wurlitzer arranging table, perhaps the one
in Tim's collection or perhaps the table now in the Herschell Carrousel
Factory Museum, with the sheet music propped up in front of him at the
back of the table, as he transferred the notes to the master -- all by
hand, no magic involved, Frank McCullough notwithstanding.

There is plenty of evidence in the masters themselves that it was all
hand-work of a drafting board sort.  When one stops to consider that,
during the company's heyday, Wurlitzer produced at least a dozen
different kind of rolls for widely different instruments, from player
pianos to mortuary organs to band organs, it seems unimaginable that
they could have had "recording pianos" and "recording organs" to assist
in this work.

Matthew Caulfield
Irondequoit, NY

Key Words in Subject:  Arrange, Did, How, Rolls, Wurlitzer

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