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MMD > Archives > November 2011 > 2011.11.11 > 03Prev  Next

Wurlitzer Band Organ Arrangements
By Dan Robinson

David Kelzenberg asserts in MMD 111110 that Wurlitzer style 150
arrangements are often lacking while style 125 arrangements are
sometimes more interesting than even style 165 arrangements of the
same tunes.

It's certainly true that the style 150 scale is pretty limited, but
these rolls do have their fans.  In fact, organs playing these rolls,
namely style 146 and 153 organs, have been described as having the
quintessential American carousel sound, although the scale is, indeed,
hampered by having only three bass notes.

The style 125 scale has five bass notes.  The style 165 scale,
meanwhile, has six, which are quite well used in many places, sometimes
with all six used in a row in ascending or descending fashion (in
marches, as I recall).

One difference well worth pointing out is that some tunes which change
to a different key in the 165 arrangements do not do so on the other
scales.  Again, marches come to mind (trio sections).  While I can't
say I have thought any style 125 arrangements to be more interesting
than the 165 arrangements of the same tunes, I have noted that some
style 125 arrangements compare favorably to the 150 arrangements.

David notes the lack of recordings of Wurlitzer style 155, 160 and 180
music.  It should be noted that no original style 160 rolls are known
to exist.  The only organ that plays this scale, a DeKleist organ in
the American Treasure Tour collection, Oaks, Pennsylvania, plays new

The only commercial recording of style 155 music, recorded from the 155
organ (one of three in existence) on the Kit Carson County Carousel,
Burlington, Colorado, is no longer available, as noted on the MMD in
September.  There is one available recording of style 180 music, and
that is a cassette sold by Carrousel Music, recorded from a 180 organ
now in a prominent Illinois collection (the only 180 of the three
existing ones which still plays its original rolls).

It should also be pointed out that not many vintage rolls on these two
scales are known to exist.  The known original style 155 rolls contain
a total of only about 31 tunes, while there are a total of 56 tunes on
surviving style 180 rolls.

Going back to the "big three" scales, I would argue that there is a
relative lack of available recordings of style 125 music, compared to
styles 165 and especially 150.  I would like more recordings of style
105 organs, in particular.

Dan Robinson
Rochester, New York

(Message sent Fri 11 Nov 2011, 23:58:22 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  Arrangements, Band, Organ, Wurlitzer

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