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MMD > Archives > June 2014 > 2014.06.20 > 01Prev  Next

Duo-Art Pianos & Rolls by Aeolian-American
By Mike Walter

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
either side.

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
were available.

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?

Best wishes,
Mike Walter

 [ 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

(Message sent Fri 20 Jun 2014, 03:34:00 GMT, from time zone GMT-0700.)

Key Words in Subject:  Aeolian-American, Duo-Art, Pianos, Rolls

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