ARTCRAFT Newsletter #11 (4-15-2002)



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Note: This Newsletter features a companion ILLUSTRATED Webpage
which has a total of 15 .jpg images a major download!
We suggest that you start downloading this page, while reading the article, for you'll have pictures to view, which relate to the text.
http://www.wiscasset.net/artcraft/a-series.htm


Introduction

    This edition of the Newsletter is a bit 'late', but it has been due - primarily - to the soaring sales of our Interpretive Arrangements, combined with the fact that we want to eliminate all the outstanding orders, before plunging into the Summer Season. Our Pianola concerts commence on May 25th, this year, so we want all backorders and other Studio tasks, to be completely out of the way, by that time!


THE VISUOLA and AUDIOGRAPHIC PROJECTS AT THE AEOLIAN COMPANY:
A PREFACE TO THESE UNUSUAL PROGRAMS

    Last Fall, I decided to devote an Issue to the subjects of two Aeolian projects, which were introduced very late in the heyday of the player instruments: The Visuola and AudioGraphic Music Rolls, dating from 1926 through 1930, with the bulk of the activity in these dual spheres between 1927 and 1928 ... a time when radio and talking pictures were beginning to shift tastes away from the Pianola, and just prior to the stock market 'crash' in October of '29.

    Both AudioGraphic Rolls and The Visuola were products of the "Educational Department" at Aeolian, a division which separated the claims, promotions and offers from those of the consumer market and the retail piano stores. The Duo-Art was not the only company which divided the 'piano customers' from the 'school/insitutional' sales, for the Welte-Mignon Licensee (a Kohler & Campbell subsidiary) and the Ampico (by The American Piano Co.) also had such divisions, primarily in the 'Twenties.

    What "sold" in the retail market was usually based on exaggerated advertising puffery, whereas what a college might purchase, had to focus on "music appreciation" - with as little being said, as possible, about the rolls 'reproducing' every nuance of the artists, whose names, logotype signatures and/or screened photographs were stamped on the paper leaders. Aeolian, especially, engaged in hyperbole texts, attributed to their leading artists, two examples of which are given below ... and which were probably written by the hacks in the advertising department:

    "These rolls correctly reproduce phrasing, accent, pedaling, and what is more, they are endowed with my personality. Yes, incredible as it may seem, I have succeeded in actually embodying in these rolls that subtle something which, for want of a better term, we call personality. They are indeed my actual interpretation with all that implies." [Josef Hofmann, April, 1919]

    -- or --

    "I am most happy to avail myself of such a wonderful means of leaving to posterity a record, as nearly perfect as can be conceived, of my interpretive art." [Harold Bauer, May, 1919]

    (Of course, if you compare Hofmann's 78 rpm recordings, on CD & tape, today, you'll discover that the stepping which staff arranger, W. Creary Woods used - to "convey" Hofmann - is often 100% mathematical, and features pedal effects, rubato passages and accents which are often diametrically opposed to the artist's playing, as preserved on audio. All the elements of pianism are "there" - to be discerned - on the old recordings, and they do not match the artist on rolls, issued in his name. Josef Hofmann was paid the high sum of $1,000 a selection - on a 100-roll contract - a major fee for the acquisition of his "name", which also sold Steinway pianos, especially in stores which had paintings of him at the keyboard.)

    (Similarly, the Bauer '48 autobiography goes into his editing 'sheet music transfer' rolls which were later converted into the 'reproducing' variety. On some occasions, the pianist interpreted his annotated graph paper style rolls on a Pianola, so the erratic 'recording' equipment merely imitated that activity, and nothing of his legendary keyboard art! We urge the reader to seek out the KREUTZER SONATA, on a 1926 Vitaphone short, with Zimbalist (or Elman?) on the violin. There, you can experience him at his performance height, making the music lover wonder why he lent his name to the making of player rolls! [This gem, featuring Beethoven's music, has appeared on cable television and is often featured with others - of a symphonic and operatic nature - entitled "Prélude to The Vitaphone" ... which was exhibited that same year, in combination with "Don Juan", the first silent feature to be equipped with synchronized disc record soundtrack equipment.])

    (Money, in the form of a steady income, is what the player rolls meant to the virtuoso pianists, of that day. Most had an interest in the earlier pedal Pianola, which taught musical structure, phrasing and dynamics to the interactive roll interpreter. It was typical of a Duo-Art 'reproducing' roll to be a recycled version of a 65-Note or 88-Note Metrostyled arrangement, sold to the naive public - of that day - with statements penned in their names.)

    When it came came to schools, clubs and universities, there was no attempt to make statements like these:

    "I grasped my friend by the arm. 'Charles,' I exclaimed, 'there's but one man in the world plays that piece like that - it sounds like Harold Bauer.' 'It is Harold Bauer,' said my friend." -- and so on. (Ignore the incorrect English above, where "who" should have been typeset between "world" and "plays". Many of the artistic advertisements, even by Aeolian, had sorry grammar tossed into what were elaborate and rhapsodic pictorial layouts.)   [Aeolian advertisement, 1916]

    No, schools and colleges, which knew that the pleasant-but-not-authentic (or outright atrocious, in many cases!) rolls would have to be sold by COMPOSER and MUSICAL FORM, when introduced into classes for Musical Appreciation.

    Thus, the Educational Departments stressed the famous educators and musicologists of the time, such as Otto Miessner, Elva Faeth Rider, Thurlow Lieurance and Geoffrey O'Hara, while tossing in names like "Bauer," "Paderewski" and "Novaes", but not going into the hoopla about the artists' 'reproductions' - for obvious reasons. While the expression player, i.e. the 'reproducing' piano, was nothing like good audio, it was definitely ideal for teaching classes which focused on music appreciation.

    Here's an Aeolian text from 1926, from the Educational Department, a marked contrast to the three quotes, given above:

    "Every Modern Music Room DESERVES A GRAND - the Aeolian Duo-Art: SCHOOL SPECIAL.  Only five feet in length, With every feature of the full size instrument - in special finishes to comply with school furniture - Equipped with Yale locks and noiseless casters - Built and guaranteed by the Aeolian Company, with a SCHOOL LIBRARY of ARTIST ROLLS by (list of Educators, such as Edwin Hughes and George Gartlan, etc.) with Paderewski, Hofmann, Bauer and the World's Leading Pianists. At no greater cost than an upright."

    (Isn't this a totally different approach from the gushing, often maudlin, advertising hoopla, which the public received in their newspapers and magazines, of that time?)

    Now, having set the stage, and the era, for Aeolian's final attempt to revive their falling Player-Piano sales - here and abroad - we announce a companion ILLUSTRATED WEBPAGE, which goes with this Newsletter text. The auxiliary page features 15 .jpg images, for your browser, many of which are high-resolution pictures, due to the nature of this topic. The page represents a 'tremendous' 1.1 MB file, so we recommend that dial-up modem users start the downloading process NOW!  Then, the companion page will be accessible within 4 to 9 minutes' time, and handy to check, while reading the Newsletter. We decided that it was better to access a single Internet page, rather than breaking it up into several linked ones. Once loaded into your computer's memory, it will be a visual reference for this text.
Here's that page, with 15 photographic images: http://www.wiscasset.net/artcraft/a-series.htm


THE VISUOLA: WHAT IS IT?

    When player sales began to sag, Aeolian turned to institutions, much as manufacturers (in our day) have switched from the consumer market to the "Federal welfare" type, especially in the field of military equipment. Promoting the Duo-Art and pedal Pianola for the institutional market represented a major financial effort -  and attitude. Instead of selling a piano, along with a collection of 20-35 rolls, now the thrust was to market 'industrial'-style school equipment, combined with an entire collection of 100 rolls, or more, perhaps in multiples, for music appreciation classes, in an entire education system.

    Aeolian never really made clear WHAT the Visuola was, though a 1927 advertisement suggested that it was a "Scientific, visual aid which translates, simplifies, and reduces the printed music page to its practical application on the keyboard." The teacher had a Visuola "silent dictating keyboard" or "audible transmitter" with cables connected to the pianos/keyboards which the students had. From this device, the instructor would operate a lightboard, above each piano key ... showing the staff notes, rhythm, phrasing and interpretation. The Visuola supposedly showed the position of a single note, or a group of them.

    Four Visuola rolls were issued, aimed at the consumer market, with regard to teaching a young person, backed by a brochure called "Your Child". Two of these numbers were SWEET ADELINE and IN THE GLOAMING, relatively simple pieces, but ideal for those beginning to master notation and piano keyboards.

    The Visuola was marketed on levels for higher education, also, mostly supported by vague advertising in trade journals and music teacher magazines like The Etude or The Musician. There, as with the "Home Series" (featuring rolls "played by" Sophie Pratt Bostelmann), the interested party was directed to Aeolian Hall, in New York - and definitely to their Educational Department. (You had the feeling that the prospective customer would be seeing a protype or custom-built mechanism for specific teaching needs, especially since the SCHOOL SPECIAL baby grand piano, mentioned above, could be supplied in "special finishes to comply with school furniture.")

    A roll customer in Europe, once, sent me a picture of a film-strip projector called The Visuola, presumably sold through the British subsidiary of Aeolian, in Hayes Middlesex. Perhaps this was used in connection with rolls, or perhaps was a device in itself, much like the Dukane (tm) projectors used in classes in the States, from the 'Thirties through the late 'Fifties. Sometimes, the later DuKane 35mm strip projectors even had an attached phonograph mechanism, for supplying sound and narration. (As a student, I can recall both 78 rpm records as well as long-playing discs, for our schoolroom presentations; some had audible 'chime' effects, for the manual advancing of the film strip ... and the later variety had encoded recordings for the automatic changing of the transparencies.) Perhaps, Aeolian used their Visuola decals to dabble in this kind of market.

    Similarly, I've seen pictures of a Visuola 16mm rear projection unit, looking very much like the 'Consolette' model of the Orthophonic Victrola, but with a glass screen where the acoustic horn would normally be found, behind the two doors. This was an overseas photo, from an advertisement, and rather fuzzy, so it might have included a phonograph as well. Again, this probably originated within the English branch of the Aeolian enterprises.

    Clearly, the "remote keyboard", the 16mm projection cabinet and the film strip device had little to do with music rolls, and these might have represented some last-minute attempts at diversification, not unlike those at QRS-DeVry, which made radio tubes, radio speakers, portable phonographs, 35mm cameras, 16mm projectors, neon tubes ... and, of course, QRS Music Rolls, during the same period of time.

    If you have downloaded our 1.1 MB Webpage, by now - http://www.wiscasset.net/artcraft/a-series.htm - you'll have discovered 2 pictures of a special projector, which was meant to be added to a Weber or Steinway Duo-Art grand piano. The projector might have been called a Visuola, since that name was bandied about, in a non-specific manner, for the "teaching programs" associated with Aeolian Hall. The picture of the music roll projector, for use with Aeolian's special music rolls, raises some questions about the actual project, if indeed it ever existed. Like many  hemorrhaging corporations, the piano/organ/player company might have "said anything" to keep their empire running. Ideas might have been floated before they reached fruition.

    It's our theory that the Visuola, a "teaching" trade-mark that was associated exclusively with the Educational Department of Aeolian Hall, might have been applied to this unusual combination of rolls being projected on a screen, with the piano under a 'cable control' of the instructor.

    (Note: Brunswick-Balke-Collender, maker of billiard tables, diversified into phonographs and records, later on. Their all-electronic phonograph was called "The Panatrope", but as times got tough, that decal was slipped on to acoustic models, now being called "Panatrope", also ... and finally suitcase portable models had the same tradename on them, just before Warner Bros. bought out their phonograph business, integrating it with Vitaphone talking pictures and their other audio activities. By the time W.B. sold off the Brunswick name to Decca Records, in the 'Thirties, the billiard table company had acquired Aeolian's Vocalion name ... originally used for reed organs, and then a series of Aeolian-made phonographs and records. The point is that "product recognition" is a hard thing to drop, even when the focus is changing, so Brunswick, Aeolian and other companies often shifted brand names, when the item had little to do with its origin, especially in hard economic times.)

    The Internet is capable of bringing together many isolated and obscure things. As this article was being written, I had the good fortune to discover some additional information about the Visuola, in its original form ... and there is a likelihood that at least one example of this teaching device still exists, along with related papers. Aeolian claimed - in 1927 - that they had "endowed" a development program for their Educational Department, and announced the Visuola, which supposedly represented SEVEN YEARS OF RESEARCH. If you subtract 7 years from 1927, that would bring the Visuola, in its original form, to the 1919-1920 period.

    (I mention this, since Aeolian had demonstrated a 58-Note 'record/playback' perforating machine, in 1899 music roll concerts ... supported by Scribner's and other magazine advertising. The company announced that "hand-played" rolls would soon be forthcoming, for their early model of the Pianola piano-player. Even the famed musician Jossefy participated in some of these early concert hall demonstrations, which were not well-received by the reviewers, who noted the irregularities in the 'playback' aspect. [Aeolian had a vibrating pneumatic system for highspeed punching, as the artist played. The rolls were not really listenable and difficult to patch up, so when the 65-Note period began, a few years later, the traditional "sheet music transfer" methods (graph paper ideals) continued, as before.]  Then - in 1916, when the Duo-Art Pianola received its first national publicity, Aeolian announced that their new "hand-played" rolls were the result of SEVENTEEN YEARS OF RESEARCH ... which ... if you remove 17 years from 1916, becomes 1899! [By 1920, the company announced their "New System" - which was a return to arranging the Master from scratch, primarily - and the phase-out of the "Old System", which was based on machinery developed and demonstrated in 1899. Thus, their supposedly perfected Duo-Art rolls, which used the vibrating pneumatic cuttings, had a life span of 4 years, primarily. That represents 17 years of development, behind closed doors, and 4 years in the marketplace!])

    According to my Internet correspondent, the inventor of the Visuola was John C. Bostelmann, Jr. (1892-1975), whose pianist-wife was Sophie Pratt Bostelmann, (1893-1974); they were married in 1914 (and divorced in 1952). This information should be correct, since the Bostelmanns were the grandparents of the writer, who played with the Portland (ME) Symphony, in the early 'Seventies (where I probably heard him, as a member of the orchestra, back then, under conductor Bruce Hangen, or Messrs. Arthur Lipkin or Paul Vermel, who, both, preceded him!)  [The musician has since confirmed that he performed under the baton of Paul Vermel.]

    The Visuola probably began, if one examines Aeolian's somewhat misleading advertising claims, as part of the Bostelmanns' Studio in Auburn, New York ... or could have been associated with their subsequent activities at Syracuse University (NY) and Smith College (MA), where Mrs. Bostelmann was a graduate. It's likely that the Visuola was in use from 1919, until the Aeolian Company made it part of their Educational Department, whereupon Mrs. Bostelmann contributed some Duo-Art rolls. While the Visuola began as a teacher-with-a-keyboard (that "transmitted" to the students' keyboards), Aeolian probably adapted this idea for the Duo-Art player, allowing the teacher to be free of the piano, while the music rolls sent the illuminated information to each of the wired-in classmates. Possibly, the opaque projector - advertised with AudioGraphic Rolls - was used, in some capacity.

    We'll include an ADDENDA or a Part II, in a future Newsletter, if and when more information - and a photograph - of the original Visuola can be obtained, since there evidently is a surviving example of the equipment.

    [As for the brand name, it's highly possible that this was coined by Aeolian, when franchising the equipment, some 7 years later. Remember, that "-OLA" appears in many of their products: PianOLA, GraduOLA, TechnOLA, ConcertOLA ... and since David Sarnoff had the early days of RCA atop Aeolian Hall, he - seeing the success of player sales - no doubt changed his products from "Radio Music Box" (the original name) to RadiOLA. Earlier, Eldridge Johnson enclosed his Victor Talking Machine in an upright 'furniture style' cabinet, which launched the VictrOLA in 1906, some 9 years after the Votey 58-Note Pianola was offered in the marketplace Did John Bostelmann REALLY call this invention the VisuOLA, right from the start? Perhaps we can answer this question, in the near future.

    Aeolian purchased the solo system, advertised as the Themodist (and integral to the design of the Duo-Art expression player) as well as the tempo marking concept, which they named the Metrostyle. A teaching device with an "OLA" in it, would be a logical marketing ploy, if they had the rights to 'name' it. (Such rights might have been transferred to some of the other Visuola products, mentioned above, perhaps.)

    Stay tuned for an update about the history of the Aeolian Visuola, as the facts become known!

AEOLIAN ANNOUNCES AUDIOGRAPHIC MUSIC ROLLS IN 1926 ...

[Be sure to download this URL, which relates to the following text - http://www.wiscasset.net/artcraft/a-series.htm ]

    My collection of AudioGraphic rolls began, in the mid-'Fifties, when I had the good fortune of buying rolls "no longer needed" at the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor. To this nucleus, additional AudioGraphic releases have been added, so the present stock (as of this date) encompasses both 'home' and 'school' editions, many being the same arrangements with different types of annotations.

    Once, again, Aeolian had a dual promotion for these rolls, with the addition that in Great Britain, they would also be issued in the 88-Note format. (In the U.S., the series was for the Duo-Art 'reproducing' player, only.) The domestic announcements were what might be called pompous, grandiose and stale - by contemporary standards. Actually, Aeolian went in for what could be cited as the "GROCERY LIST" approach, viz. putting out committee members' names while recycling the 'artists' and arrangements of the past. Some arrangements dated back to 1914 - releases which were obsolete, by the late 'Twenties, when judged by a) the meter, which was erratic, due to company's 'direct cut' perforators; b) the expression score; and c) the titles, themselves.

    Some of the earliest Duo-Art rolls are unlistenable, such as THE BLUE DANUBE WALTZ for Dancing, #1501 "Arndt" or THE ROSARY, #5502 "Arndt" and AMERICA ABROAD "Banta & Bentz". In fact, the bulk of the earlier rolls in the #5500 series and the #1500 one suffer from being clumpy and boring, due to frozen expression settings, or errant and twitchy rhythm, due to the irregularities within the musical measures. Definitely, many of the earlier Duo-Art rolls are justifiably rare, today.  Aeolian issued an in-house edict in 1920 for their subsidiaries to delete vast quantities of these titles, since their (so-called) 'New System' - arranging - was going to replace the "old" one, which involved highspeed pneumatics running perforating punches, a guarantee for desultory musical performances. In spite of this, a good number of weird-sounding rolls made it into the AudioGraphic series, such as Chopin's AEOLIAN HARP Etude, Op. 25, No 1 (1916) "played by Friedberg".

    (This particular Chopin roll is so loud, due to a higher norm on the dynamic score  - approximately #10 instead of the standard #8 for Mezzo-Forte - that I always turn off the expression, and elect to graduate the Theme/Accompaniment controls manually. It makes one wonder WHY the manufacturer didn't clean up the older perforated rolls BEFORE decorating them with musical annotations and ultra-fancy leaders!)

    We won't bore you with the text for the 1926 advertisements, that appeared in New York, London, Paris, Berlin and other Aeolian centers, around the world. A couple of lines will suffice:

    "After years of careful preparation, it is now possible for everyone to know good music and enjoy it to the utmost, since AudioGraphic Music Rolls represent an entirely new and revolutionary development in music."

    -- and --

    "These rolls, designed for and adapted to the use of the layman, are already in use in many of the great universities and schools, here and abroad."

    The rest of the ads were merely rosters of committees, containing famous names, many of which were "HONORARY" ... which probably meant that beyond being paid for the use of their names, they had little to do with the series.

    Even the roll leaders (see the Illustration of Grieg's LITTLE BIRD on our <a-series.htm> companion page) were overloaded with these boring litanies of Aeolian committees: the American Committee, the British Committee, the Spanish Committee, the German Committee (which included Siegfried Wagner!), the Belgian Committee and the French Committee. The ads and the roll leaders were a phalanx of names which nobody would care to read. Moreover, some of the names of 'artists' stamped on the roll leaders - musicians who supposedly participated in the AudioGraphic project - included George Gershwin, who left Aeolian over 2 years before the first recycled titles were released in this format. (Perhaps Aeolian intended to annotate the FAKE-Gershwin roll by Armbruster of RHAPSODY IN BLUE, but ... to date, no copy has ever been found.)

    There is a distinct difference in the approach to roll annotation, from the 'home' series as opposed to those being stamped for the 'school' market. The regular AudioGraphic rolls were in the A-series, while the Duo-Art titles for the classroom projectors, bore references to countries, in the serial numbers: e.g., Boh-1 (Bohemian), Eng-3 (English), Pol-8 (Polish) and so forth. There were also single alphabet letters such as V, W and Y for these 'school'/projector releases.

    One thing that all AudioGraphic rolls had in common was the emphasis of the COMPOSER, above all. Titles would be Debussy's FLAXEN HAIRED GIRL or Grieg's NORWEGIAN BRIDAL PROCESSION, with the Composer and Title (in English), dominating the box label. Sometimes the 'artist' wasn't even listed on the box label, nor on the roll leader, either (especially with the 88-Note English releases).

    There were several categories in annotation, to go with these 'school' versus 'residential' offerings. The A-series had "full annotations", which you can experience on the <a-series.htm> page, listed above, including Aeolian's TEMPOPHRASE lines, which helped any astute person grasp the note clusters for melodic phrases, with a little study. These rolls say AUDIOGRAPHIC in the large frame (box) which includes "The World's Library" at the top and the Composer's picture, at the bottom. (Note the the pianist, when illustrated, is smaller and always near to the roll tab. Many AudioGraphic rolls had illustrations of the roll Annotater, only, and skipped the picture of the 'pianist', entirely.)

    The 'school' series were called ANALYTICAL and ANNOTATED; these were projector-oriented, featuring elaborate leaders, but skimpy stamping, when the music began to play. The reason for this, probably, was to give the students a better opportunity to see the coloured numbers for the theme notes (A, A, B, B-modified, C, A reprise, etc.) ... and the perforations. Gone were the made-up stories, to entertain the novice, and much of the other visual features, which cluttered-up the A-series releases. Knowing how dim opaque projectors can be, especially with rear screen display methods, it was probably determined to lower the cost by cutting out many of the stampings PLUS making the roll and the theme designations 'brighter' for the group of viewers. (AudioGraphic rolls were perforated on a white paper stock instead of the manila hue associated with the standard Duo-Art releases; this was done for the sake of the projection system, in all probability.)

    There were also BIOGRAPHICAL, CHILDREN'S and others in the series, including the D-series, in Great Britain, which featured different annotations, 88-Note as well as Duo-Art options ... and even, for a short time, some Duo-Art Pipe Organ rolls, in the States, with the running commentary and pictorial stampings!

    Back in the 'Sixties, I visited a young piano technician in Washington, DC, who had the 1926 SALESMAN'S DEMONSTRATION ROLL for the AudioGraphic releases. What a mess! I'm amazed that the project ever got off the ground with that mostly-blank paper, crossing over the tracker bar. It was a rehash of the magazine ads, with all sorts of claims, but the main focus was running photograph after photograph, following an article about H. B. Tremaine (the Aeolian Co.'s President), which showed boring pictures of geezers, sitting around tables - representing these sundry committees, which were, for the most part, 'honorary' in nature ... and  wearisome to witness. Foot after foot of these board room pictures, approximately 5 x 7" in size, moved across the aperture, while nary a note was being played, most of the time. How Aeolian would expect a salesman to "close the sale" on a Weber grand piano, after running a mostly-'silent' roll, stamped with stiff-looking senior citizens' photographs, is something beyond this writer's way of thinking..

    If the prospect survived the endless, illustrated roll leader, he or she got a snippet of Grieg's "Puck", Chopin's "Revolutionary Etude" and, and maybe a few tests of the expression system. I was underwhelmed, during my one performance of this roll, originally designed to be a showroom curtain-raiser!

    (Broadway had sparkling DeSylva-Brown-Henderson musicals ... colleges hired the Coon-Sanders Nighthawks ...  while the Metropolitan Opera was getting ready to launch  Lawrence Tibbett in "The King's Henchmen" by Deems Taylor ... yet the Duo-Art marketing gambit was to run a hardly-working player instrument, with stone-faced groups of elderly men, passing by! Where's Madison Avenue, when it's needed?)

    As for the rolls selected to be reissued as AudioGraphic selections, there's another mystery, from this Duo-Art enthusiast's viewpoint. For example, why were most of the releases drawn from the shorter, often pedestrian rolls, from the company's library?  None of the following titles seem to appear in the American AudioGraphic catalogue:  the spectacular Gottschalk's FANTASIE on THE BRAZILIAN ANTHEM "Novaes" (Woods), Liszt's TARENTELLA "Vecsei" or Smetana's BY THE SEASHORE "Volavy".  You would have to travel to England to purchase Beethoven's RONDO A CAPRICCIO "Hofmann", since the mathematically-tilted Woods' arrangement was only available as a standard Duo-Art release in the U.S. (Graph paper or not, some of W. C. Woods' "Hofmann" rolls are among the best in the old Aeolian library, in our opinion.)

    True, the customer could purchase Balakirev's  ISLAMEY, Saint-Saëns' DANSE MACABRE and Chopin's POLONAISE in A-FLAT ... but much of the AudioGraphic catalogue, was weighted down by fluffy, wispy, short-playing selections, such as Hunmperdinck's 'DREAM MUSIC' from "Hansel and Gretel", Schumann's TRAUMEREI, Beethoven's MINUET in G or ON WINGS of SONG by Mendelssohn. These are not bad rolls, to be sure, but they don't constitute the kind of performance which rivets the listener.

    There was another unusual aspect to the whole AudioGraphic advertising focus. In Great Britain, these were "rolls with a running commentary" and offered for the 'reproducing' as well as the Pianola markets. However, during the 4½ years of the advertising, the instrument was being promoted, in the States, as the AudioGraphic Duo-Art Piano ... as if this were different from the standard Duo-Art player action, when it was not. (A mother, in one advertising caption, tells a friend, while watching her daughter sitting spellbound, on the piano bench, says "I'm so glad that we have the AudioGraphic Duo-Art." Incredible, since only 150-odd rolls - out of the 6000 in the international library - were selected to be offered with explanatory markings and printed illustrations.)

    The AudioGraphic Rolls were an achievement in sales-emphasis design, here, in the States. With false-bottom boxes and fancy leaders, they appeared to be a totally different product, not intended for the standard pedal player. The advertising innuendo suggested a requirement for the purchase of another electric expression player, though no instrument has been spotted (so far) which features a decal for the AudioGraphic Duo-Art, on the fallboard.  The American boxes featured a totally different appearance ... the occasional elimination of the 'pianist' ... the bold print for the person who contributed the LISTENER'S NOTES ... while the COMPOSER dominated the text, with a possessive apostrophe (Grieg's PUCK - instead of "Lyric Pieces" Op. 71, No. 3 - Edvard Grieg).

    [This disguise of already-released rolls continues to fool some collectors, even today!  The AMICA player club magazine, several decades ago, ran a review of Liszt's LIEBESTRAUM by "Ganz" (Woods), in which the whiter-looking AudioGraphic version featured a different type of chain-link perforation, though the openings would have had the same key depression time, as the regular Duo-Art edition, on manila paper . The writer said that Rudolph Ganz (quote) "played in a more business-like fashion, than when he recorded for the AudioGraphic rolls". Of course, by laying the old copy upon the annotated one, it would be easy to see that the perforation lengths and the expression scores were exactly the SAME - albeit with different visual aspects, which were due to the duplicating machines. People can fantasize what they are seeing and hearing, in so many cases, where music rolls are concerned. Amazing!]

    Another mystery surrounding these elusive rolls concerns the paper speeds, on the various recycled editions, which often vary. For example, Debussy's ENGULFED CATHEDRAL "Hess" (Woods) appears in 3 or 4 AudioGraphic editions, some at Tempo 70 and others at Tempo 90. Why? Perhaps this was done to accommodate the matrix settings for the stamping operations, but it's only conjecture, at this late date.

    When the roll travel is increased, while the expression score remains the same (but a bit more elongated), the "timing" on the sustaining pedal, the staccato (when it exists) and the overall tonality will change.

    (This is why our 'Interpretive Arrangements' are each a separate perforating project, where the paper travel norm is matched to the musical effects to be achieved. ARTCRAFT Rolls don't force the music into specific steppings, but Aeolian [at least for this annotated series] varied the paper speeds.)

    Played side-by-side, these "Hess" rolls, for example, are clearly recognizable, from one to another. Of course, the bottom line, here, was the VISUAL EFFECT (especially when being projected) and the musical appreciation instruction, not the expressive accuracy of the rolls, which were perforated in her name. Slow or fast, these "Hess" rolls are relatively the same, musically, but an astute listener can discern a myriad of performance balances which will shift. One version travels at 7 feet per minute, while the other AudioGraphic features a paper travel speed of 9 feet per minute - by contrast.

    We hope you've loaded our illustrated Webpage, which accompanies this article. If not, here's the URL again -
http://www.wiscasset.net/artcraft/a-series.htm  The pictures on this site will help explain many of the statements, given above.

    AudioGraphic Update: Late in March, 2002, these Aeolian rolls, which CANNOT BE DUPLICATED, in our time, were bringing record prices. Just 6 AudioGraphic Rolls sold for $1400.00, which must be some kind of a record in the player field. As this is being written, during the start of April, I've just mailed off some checks for 4 successful bids, on Internet auctions. Surpise!  The Aeolian-Enron "bubble" has burst, for my purchases in this series - regarding a few relatively rare releases. My new AudioGraphic rolls covered the $10.00 to $25.00 range + shipping. This proves that there's no "sure thing" in the field of antiques and collecting, especially when it comes to such exotic musical items.

    From our standpoint, since we make rolls which surpass most of the old arrangements, the MUSIC is more important than the visual aspects. If the roll satisfies us, musically, as does A-107 Balakirev's ISLAMEY ... then the pleasure from the equally-uncommon standard 'reproducing' roll version is fine, with us, also.  The undecorated version, #6537 "Beryl Rubinstein" (Woods), was released in '22. The American and English annotated versions of ISLAMEY came out in '29, with the foreign edition being D-755, plus a possible 88-Note version. (See the picture of POLONAISE in A-FLAT on the auxiliary Webpage, for an example of a crossover release.)

    Happy Listening -- and VIEWING, in the case of AudioGraphic Rolls!


ANNOUNCEMENTS and INFORMATION from the ARTCRAFT STUDIO

    These are the Pianola Concert dates for the 2002 Season at Searsport Shores Camping, Searsport Maine:

May 25: Saturday
June 15: Saturday
July 11: Thursday
July 22: Monday
August 5: Monday
September 1: Sunday

    Our '29 Reprotone will be returning to Searsport Shores, during the middle of May ... and  ... these musicales, which last about 1 1/4 hours' time, are open to all, not just RVers/campers on scenic Penobscot Bay. See: http://www.campocean.com/doug.html   and the other linked Searsport Shore sites, which you will find, there.

    (Searsport is above Belfast and below Ellsworth, on U.S. 1, the scenic Maine Coast highway.)

PIANOLA CONCERT PROGRAMS:  FREE FOLDING FLYERS!

    If you would like a free printed brochure, listing some of the music to be played, and other information, send us a stamped-addressed return envelope (a #10, if possible). If you live outside of the States, just send us the addressed envelope, and we'll donate the postage. Some of our readers have a number of the titles, which will be performed, this year, and might like the 3-panel folding flyer to put in their ARTCRAFT Roll box. (These brochures are in preparation, right now.)

    Finally, our Second Season at Searsport marks my "50th Year" of roll-making, a record which has long surpassed the others in this field, to our knowledge. Can't believe that I entered players in '52, but since I just turned 64, it has to be true! My first 'reproducing' rolls were made in '57, when I soon found that a move from a pedal player was not an "upgrade" to something better, as I had been led to believe (by experts?).  Thank goodness the electric Duo-Art upright had Pianola levers, so I could cut in and eventually 'take over' the entire musical performance. That led to my making     effervescent rolls which reflect the manual control of a 'reproducing' piano ... and here I am, today, still doing the same perforating activities!

    Our 2 new puppies, now about 9 months' old, each, have really kept me busy, especially in their earlier months. While we miss Liesl (the dachshund), mentioned in a prior Newsletter, we enjoy Jenny (the Boston Terrier) and Gretel (another dachshund), who have their own (often stubborn) personalities. We plan on taking our first "two dog" camping trip, early in May, just before the piano is towed up the Coast for the return to Searsport. Jenny & Gretel are the 3rd of each breed, for our many decades of having dogs as 'family members'.

    We were going to address the complicated topic of rolls with various tracking methods, but have run out of space, so will focus on those facets of player arrangements: old and new, in the next ARTCRAFT Newsletter, #12 - published, later, from Searsport, Maine.

    Best regards,
            Douglas

ARTCRAFT Music Rolls
(L. Douglas Henderson)
Wiscasset, ME 04578 USA
(207) 882-7420
Home Page -  http://www.wiscasset.net/artcraft/
E-Mail: artcraft@wiscasset.net


ADDITIONAL NOTES for our Newsletter readers

"Rediscover" SHORTWAVE Broadcasts!

If you are as dissatisfied with the half-baked, incomplete and filtered broadcast news which we are getting, today - in the States - we recommend your purchasing a Grundig YB400PE radio, as we did, recently. Here's the Website, where we bought our 'Yacht Boy 400' radio -
http://usa.shortwavestore.com/index.html   Their on-line rep handled our order, efficiently, after answering a series of questions about overseas shortwave signals, regarding our Maine Coast area.

The Shortwave Store also publishes a Webpage which lists the BBC frequencies, for different areas and time-of-day. (While Great Britain recently dumped the almost-2,000,000 North American BBC shortwave listeners, the better radios, like my portable Grundig, have no problem delivering the signals, directed to Central America.)  http://usa.shortwavestore.com/bbc-frequencies.html

It's pathetic, where a "little island", like England, can now broadcast more in-depth news about the United States, than our own contemporary networks, but it's true! The Canadian broadcasting system (CBC) along with English-language programs from Germany and Asia also provide a better spectrum of what's going on, than by tuning in some talking heads on our own stations. Rediscover shortwave, for it's the perfect antidote for our monolithic media empires, which often mask "news" with editorials and/or publicity handouts. Edward R. Murrow would be turning over in his grave if he saw what passes for "news", these days. Similarly, Paddy Chayefsky, who wrote the story for NETWORK (1976, with William Holden) would have said, "I told you so!"


UPGRADE TO THE NEWEST VERSION OF THE OPERA BROWSER!

Finally, we have upgraded to Opera 6.01, for our latest edition of the versatile Norwegian browser.  It handles all Websites now, including some of the mega-bloated type, which forced us to keep Netscape on the side. (We don't bother with virus-prone IE/Outlook, even though it's built into our latest laptops, here.) Check out the new, improved Opera (which really IS "new and improved"!): http://www.opera.com  You can run the traditional windows-within-windows (MDI) or a new single window option (SDI), which was made to appeal to the Internet Explorer users.

[Note: we don't load the MTV-ish new 'skins' and used our expertise to keep the old Version 5.12 menu buttons running on the 6.01 display. These are just some of the handy configuration elements, which await the creative Opera user. It's so FAST that I can't understand why people even bother with IE or AOL|Netscape, these days. How it can deliver such personalized results with only 9 MB on the C:\ drive is another wonder, in our opinion.]

Opera has completely replaced the 2 tubby major browsers, for this household. You can run it on the side, while keeping your slow-loading applications, and - if it suits your fancy - make the jump to an Opera default status. Try it!

-- LDH, Wiscasset, ME (4-15-2002)


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ARTCRAFT Newsletters and ARTCRAFT Music Rolls are published by L. Douglas Henderson
ARTCRAFT Music Rolls, PO Box 295, Wiscasset, ME 04578 USA
Telephone: (207) 882-7420
E-Mail - artcraft@wiscasset.net