Hi all, I have been doing a bit of studying of the Duo-Art coding
system and, although my access to Duo-Art rolls is limited, I am
wondering if a correlation can be made between the merger of Aeolian
and American Piano Companies, and when changes were made to coding on
Duo-Art rolls and the (loss?) of flexibility in the Duo-Art system.
At some point in time, probably in the early 'thirties, a change seems
to have appeared on Duo-Art piano rolls. From the limited samples that
I have seen, there seems to be a coding change made to include some
type of coding along either the Theme or Accompaniment side of a roll
while notes were being played. Sustain holes nor Soft pedal nor snake
bites would count.
I would imagine that most popular rolls would have coding along both
sides of the rolls throughout. Perhaps ballads and/or classical pieces
would be the most likely candidates to check. Earlier Duo-Art rolls
from, maybe, the 1920s would have short portions of a roll where a soft
note/chord would be played with just a snake bite or else no coding on
Along with my imagined change in coding at the beginning of the 1930s,
there was a change in the physical flexibility of the Duo-Art system.
Besides the tubing being moved around the piano action, the controls
available to the consumer were reduced -- no more loudness controls
But one other loss was more important -- the "Duo-Art On/Off" lever
disappeared from the spoolbox. Was this a ploy on the part of Aeolian
to get the consumer to purchase just Duo-Art rolls? Our 1933 Steinway
in residence will not play a note when an 88-note roll is put into the
spool box. Were owners of new Duo-Art pianos instructed to pull a
couple of tubes off of the accordion pneumatics to get their favorite
88-note rolls to play, or were they led over to the Duo-Art roll
department where they could find the newest of Duo-Art rolls which
would supplant those insipid treasures from 1912?
Any thoughts? Or is this just my fertile imagination running amok?
[ Imagine the Aeolian-American shop foreman announcing, "We're almost
[ broke; do all you can to reduce the cost so instruments can be sold!"
[ So they eliminated everything in the system that wasn't needed to
[ play Duo-Art rolls. -- Robbie