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MMD > Archives > October 2006 > 2006.10.27 > 07Prev  Next

Interesting Universal & Vocalstyle 65-note Rolls
By Jim Canavan

A box of 33 rolls arrived today courtesy of eBay -- all 65-note
rolls -- just in time to enjoy on what promises to be a rainy,
cold weekend.  Most are Aeolian, universal, and early QRS, with
a couple other brands mixed in. Two surprises already:

(1) after reading in all the usual reference sources about how
65-note rolls (in the USA) never had lyrics printed on them, I find
myself the owner of two Vocalstyle "Makes singers of us all" 65 note
rolls, with complete song lyrics on the rolls, which are printed in
a bold, very block stencil-like typeface.  One is #4, "My Old Kentucky
Home"; the other roll is #77, "By the Side of the Old Walnut Tree".
Both have patents of Nov. 1907 and Sept. 1908, and are labeled "The
Vocalstyle Music Co., Cincinnati, Ohio."

The arrangements are very mechanical, although there are nice little
piano solo interludes between each verse.  With a name like "Vocalstyle"
I'm guessing that they may have been (one of) the first to print lyrics
on the rolls.  I'd be interested if anyone else has come across similar
US 65-note song rolls.  Obviously with a number like "4" the one is
awfully early in the run!

(2) The second surprise is a Universal roll, labeled as follows:
 "Sixty-Five Note 73927 Humoreske, Op. 101, No. 7 G Flat Dvorak"
Then in the bottom left corner of roll label a box containing the
number "2" and on the opposite right corner a box with "C".

Okay, sounds pretty straightforward, but as the roll plays the Tempo
(80) is printed, followed by the usual PP, P, MF, F, FF and next:
"SOLO".  "Ah," I said, "a Themodist roll, and I flip the Themodist
"ON" lever on my newly acquired Weber 65/88 Themodist piano (thank you,
Randy Herr!).

The roll begins to play, but no snakebites/Themodist punches appear on
the margins.  After a stretch, the word "NORMAL" (i.e., "release your
Themodist levers, kind pianolist") appears, and again after a time,
"SOLO" appears again and the roll ends, and not a snakebite to be seen!

Any clues on what's with this roll?  I guess by turning on the
Themodist, the suction is regulated and the piano plays softer, but why
not just use the soft pedal lever instead of the Themodist without any
accented notes, or simply pedal slowly?  I guess the roll could be a
goof, but it doesn't have the looks of a "factory second".

Anyway, this looks like it's going to be a fun weekend; will report
back if any other "65-note mysteries" crop up!

Jim Canavan
Alexandria, Virginia

(Message sent Fri 27 Oct 2006, 23:22:52 GMT, from time zone GMT-0400.)

Key Words in Subject:  65-note, Interesting, Rolls, Universal, Vocalstyle

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