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MMD > Archives > September 2018 > 2018.09.18 > 06Prev  Next

Mechanical Music in the Movies
By Jack M. Conway

Hi Group,  I have been meaning to write up this story for decades.
Now that so many people have listed so many movies, I thought this
should be included.  Unfortunately I have misplaced the photo of me on
the Warner Brothers Sound Stage; if I can find it I will send it later.

I received a referral from Warren Deasy [Griffith Park Carousel] to the
music person at Columbia Pictures in charge of finding music for the
film "Old Gringo."  They had obtained copies of "By The Light Of The
Silvery Moon" from Ramsey Tick at QRS.  One was the current arrangement
sold by QRS and the second was an earlier original version.  They needed
a player piano and operator to record them for the film.

They offered to move the piano and pay me $100.00 an hour to operate it.
The day I was needed I was greeted warmly, set up for the recording,
and thanked for being there.  As a public school teacher I was not
accustomed to this kind of treatment!

I was asked to play each version at the printed tempo.  The music
director chose the original version.  I was then asked to play it at
various tempos.  He chose the original tempo.  I was then asked to play
the complete roll for recording.

I came home and the piano, a Gulbransen Country Seat Model, was returned
the next day without incident.

About a month later I got a recall.  The music director wanted the tune
to start slow and come up to speed.  So, I picked up another check.

I waited for what seemed like ages for the film to come to the theater.
When it came out, I went to a screening and waited for the scene.  The
camera moved around the corner and came upon a boy pumping an instrument
like crazy.

Wait for it!

The boy was pumping an Aeolian Orchestrelle reed organ with my piano
playing on the sound track.

Attached is a copy of the VHS videocassette cover.  If you can obtain
a copy, the scene is from 1' 14" to 1' 16"; so much for authenticity.
By the way, I also own an Aeolian Orchestrelle.

Jack M. Conway, Los Angeles, California, USA


(Message sent Tue 18 Sep 2018, 03:41:31 GMT, from time zone GMT-0700.)

Key Words in Subject:  Mechanical, Movies, Music

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