The 1929 Story & Clark Reprotone
Searsport Shores Camping
A Series of 10 Player-Piano
July & August, 2001
Searport Shores, an idyllic and scenic camping resort
on Penobscot Bay, sponsored a series of 10 Pianola Concerts ...
held in their large Recreation Hall, each Saturday evening, during July
and August of 2001. Douglas Henderson — of ARTCRAFT Music Rolls — brought
his restored 'Reprotone' player to Searsport, using the custom-built trailer,
created for "delivering a piano" almost anywhere.
(You can see the delivery setup on this illustrated
page — http://user.nnei.net/~artcraft/fotopg1.htm
... and the '81 Volkswagen Camper, with its venerable air-cooled engine,
is still hauling this antique instrument!)
The thumbnail illustration, above, shows Mr. Henderson
next to the 1929 piano, which is actually several inches "higher" than
it would be in a normal living room setting, due to the steel piano tray
with rubber wheels (and brakes!) that was fitted to the instrument for
on-the-road performance conditions. The height of this piano is 4'2", but
the resonance and tone are astounding, along with the power inherent in
the instrument. (For want of a descriptive reference, the sound quality
is very similar to a Baldwin upright of the 'Thirties.)
The 'Reprotone' player is hidden away, between concerts, under a
heavy, protective Schaff piano cover!
Note the large rubber wheels, placed to allow moving
the instrument into narrow doorways ... and elevators. Two are at the rear
of the piano, projecting beyond the case. The other pair of rubber wheels
are just inside the piano legs. This arrangement keeps the wheels "within"
the dimensions of the case, while the rear wheels have rings for the trailer
winch, shown in the Web page mentioned above.
The Arranger-Pianolist holds an ARTCRAFT Roll ...
Audiences at these casual Saturday night performances
sit in folding chairs, on the long picnic table to the right of the instrument,
in comfortable sofas behind the piano (where the Recreation Hall's library
is located) and on portable camp chairs which some listeners often bring
to the rustic building, facing the sea. (A large 'ping pong' table, for
tennis, is rolled away, just before the concerts begin, since this is a
Performing an ARTCRAFT Interpretive Arrangement
One of the problems for any Pianolist at an upright,
is the fact that he or she doesn't face the audience, which in this case
can be seated in a semi-circle about the piano ... behind the sounding
board, on the comfortable library sofas ... to the left and right — or
wherever the campers wish to sit. (For a stately appearance, there's nothing
Interpretive Arrangements with a player grand piano,
but these fine instruments do not lend themselves to travel ... so we've
opted for the "grand piano tone" and "virtuoso staccato touch" in this
historic Story & Clark upright player.)
When the crispness of an
ultra-regulated upright piano action is combined with challenging player
rolls, such as our Interpretive Arrangements, the "music does the
"Show and Tell" — ARTCRAFT style!
A large audience can't see the words, as they
appear in the spoolbox — while the music rolls play. Similarly,
certain important perforation "patterns" are also not discernable for a
large group of people, seated several feet away from the instrument. Mr.
Henderson has, for decades, unfurled rolls ... sometimes in synchronization
with tapes playing the audio 'source' material, from which the Masters
were created ... allowing many people to see the special perforations
and key elements in the rolls. Having perforated, edited and processed
rolls for over 5 decades, the Arranger-Pianolist can point to specific
details, from behind the music sheets. This kind of display also gives
the listeners a sense the arrangement's "structure", since about 30 seconds
of performance material are displayed at any given time (at a typical roll
speed layout for Tempo 80).
A frequent audience statement, after each concert,
"We would have
kept our old family player, if it had sounded like that! We never
heard one which was so exciting, before!"
(Isn't it a shame that so many
households junked their players, while storing the old commercial rolls
in the attic? The parlour piano should have been kept, for a future time,
when rolls were improved with Interpretive Arranging techniques,
while the antique rolls ought to have been carted away!)
Douglas Henderson and Lois Konvalinka, co-founders
of The Musical Wonder House (museum) in Wiscasset and co-owners of ARTCRAFT
Music Rolls, wish to thank Zaven, Rosalie, Steve and Astrig (of Searsport
Shores Camping) for providing us with another opportunity to acquaint the
public with the hidden attributes of the Player-Piano, a magnificent yet
generally misunderstood pneumatic instrument.
Vist Searsport Shores here: http://www.campocean.com
and don't miss their special "Player-Piano page" - http://www.campocean.com/doug.html
ARTCRAFT Music Rolls
P.O. Box 295, Wiscasset, ME 04578 USA
Telephone: (207) 882-7420
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