ARTCRAFT Newsletter - #5 (February 27, 2001)


    Those who have heard ARTCRAFT Rolls - or "Henderson arrangements" played during the evening concerts at our museum, The Musical Wonder house (during its first 23 seasons) - know that there's a major difference between the old so-called 'duet' (or 'four-hand') style of music roll and what was being performed in recent times.

    Typically, a vintage Universal (Aeolian) 65-Note or 88-Note player roll, listed as 'two pianos' or 'four hands' on the label, was little more than a sheet music transfer using ersatz "octave couplers" - that device on pipe and reed organs which activated keys beyond those which the artist depressed. Add to that the fact that notation standards were the norm in the factory production line days, and what was supposed to be 'two pianists' embodied in a perforated roll - for a single Player-Piano - became an ORGANLIKE performance featuring LARGE CHORDS and little else to suggest the sparkle of 4 hands - comprising 20 fingers - striking the dual keyboards. Thus, connected notes, which sheet music transfers imposed upon the arrangement, bear little resemble to the effervescence that one associates with Luboshutz & Nemenoff, Vronsky & Babin - or the Paratore brothers, in our time.

    (Being opinionated, I might mention that I'm not including the Levesque sisters in this list, who "hammer out" Gershwin and James P. Johnson, apparently with one pianist playing 150% of the material. However, even the fast-paced, mechanical-sounding sisters do impart the sense of two people, which you don't find on rolls stamped with "Arden & Kortlander", "Ganz & Hutcheson", "Bauer & Gabrilowitsch", "Fairchild & Rainger" or "The Original Piano Trio" - the latter two being specialties of the Ampico 'reproducing' labels.)

    Naturally, the "stereo" effect of twin pianos is somewhat lost in the transcription for a single Pianola, but ... the remaining elements of melodic interplay and sparkling accents could have been incorporated into the rolls of the past ... and have been since the advent of ARTCRAFT releases in Maine, as well as custom rolls perforated for use at the music museum in the 'Sixties through the mid-'Eighties, also in Wiscasset. Here are the two facets which must be evident for any roll to suggest "more than one person" playing:

    1) A different striking effect - i.e. "keyboard attack" simulation - for each pianist;

    2) A slight delay or irregularity, judiciously applied, which suggests a minor 'out-of-synchronization effect for two artists, combining to render a single performance.

    You don't achieve the former by having "homogeneous" notes - namely, all the same length - for selected time values, the sin of most commercial rolls and especially the "Original Piano Trio" (which sounds like J. Milton Delcamp and graph paper arranging, instead of the advertised artists Dilworth, Clair and Susskind [pseudonym "Fairchild" on the label]). With these rolls, the notes in the chords STRIKE TOGETHER, thoroughly destroying any concept of multiple pianists and just demonstrating that the Player-Piano, which uses much of the technology from the pneumatic organ field, can play superhuman, often boring, chord patterns. In fact, the/se "Trio" rolls sound like an organ with all the stops pulled out, more than anything related to a pianoforte performance.

    [Note, the American Piano Co. sponsored a short-lived vaudeville tour of their Original Piano Trio - probably drawing upon the Victor Records by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band of a slightly earlier period, and then combining that 'original' idea with the touring group, Six Victor Artists, which changed its cast from time to time. Victor used their staff musicians, by and large, on these promotional engagements, often with lobby displays tied-in with the local phonograph record or music store. Beyond showing that their electric Ampico could "play more notes" than human counterparts - mechanically and unconvincingly - there were probably piano retailers in the lobbies, ready to give 'reproducing' piano demonstrations on the spot ... or apt to pass out printed invitations for these 'sales pitches' in the local stores which co-sponsored the vaudeville presentations. Whether 3 pianists appeared on the stages of Keith's or the Orpheum circuit matters little, since the Ampico rolls are just giant chords with the keys striking in unison ... a droning exercise after a few minutes of playing. Rare is the Ampico owner who plays more than 3 "Trio" rolls in succession, due to the tedious nature of this kind of arrangement, lacking all the performance elements which make 2 or 3 artists an engaging musical presentation. As we said above, on rolls, the pseudo-"Trio" is probably Milton Susskind or J. Milton Delcamp following the 'formula du jour'. (While it's impossible to determine which staff arranger did the work, since commercials rolls passed through many hands in a factory situation, my guess is that of Mr. Delcamp, the more talented of the two musicians. It would not surprise me to learn, someday, that Ferde Grofé might have supplied the manuscript scores for these Ampico rolls, since Delcamp apparently did the "played by Grofé" rolls along with the "played by Friml" ones of roughly the same period. In either case, the "Trio" series of rolls bear the single-arranger 'sound' and wear thin after a few playings, giant chords and all.]

    For many years our Interpretive Arrangements have used the principle of the calculated 'delay' for heightening the illusion of two people joining forces to present a single performance. You can experience this on ARTCRAFT Rolls of Bach's CANTATA 147: CHORALE (a '35 Myra Hess two-piano arrangement), POVERTY GULCH RAG by Max Morath (a duo-piano finale, suggested by the composer, when sending me a special manuscript along with a sound-on-sound Cassette, featuring the talented pianist playing duets with himself) and parts of SOPHISTICATED LADY from '33, on our ELLINGTON MEDLEY roll, wherein some treble effects are offset by a 128th of a note (5 flags in notation codes) to give an expanded nature to the playing ... and a sense of surprise, which all multiple artist performances possess. (After all, the listener subconsciously asks, "Will they stay together for the whole piece?") You can't play one of these - and many other Interpretive Arrangements - without getting the uncanny feeling that more than one artist had something to do with the perforated roll - when we all know that it's a single arranger operating an antique Leabarjan (tm) perforator, equipped with a miniature keyboard and fitted with many unusual "time scales" developed for the virtuoso arrangements which bear the ARTCRAFT label.

    Again, the arranger must give "Arden" a different striking effect from "Ohman" - who, as when experienced via old movie film clips, are individually distinctive if one listens INTO the soundtrack while watching the visuals for an additional reference. Max Kortlander faked the Lewis Fuiks ("Victor Arden") rolls at QRS, for the most part, and Robert Armbruster's formulae at Aeolian seem to have a heavy hand in much of what was released as "Phil Ohman". In the 'Thirties, some "Arden & Ohman" rolls for the Duo-Art and Ampico expression players, now made in tandem by Aeolian-American, were obviously the work of Frank C. Milne, whose musical construction is as recognizable as the voices of Al Jolson or the dialogue of Ronald Coleman - even when not credited on soundtracks.

    Create a more "staccato" pianist for one part of the performance plus a "heavier" striking for the second phantom artist, and the 'four hand' roll begins to spring to life ... even if the person at the pedal player doesn't bother to add anything to the musical texture. (The same applies to the old electric 'reproducing' roll versions of the same arrangements, often saddled with frozen intensity settings set against a dull character, lacking any technical excellence.)

    Introduce that all-important striking 'delay', and you've added the illusion of people interacting with each other. This is something particularly special with ARTCRAFT Master Rolls, where incremental stepping (the old graph paper or MIDI 'blips' of today) is crucial, and something which must be added by the arranger when the roll is being perforated, initially. The arranger cannot be hindered by 'stock' steppings, the curse of the industry in its so-called Golden Era before the Great Depression. It was typical to force the music into 6 punches per beat - or 8 - since they could be divided easily, often eliminating the triplet scales which should be played against the duple meter.

    (In other words, 2 or 3 beat impulses should be superimposed on many music rolls. Many companies, like QRS in the Kortlander days, forced jazz rhythms into "tied-triplet" effects, since it was fast, cheap ... and when I complained in 1960 was told, "That's what the public likes." If you ever felt that some commercial rolls were too cutesy-poo or bland for your taste, examine them ... and the chances are high that you'll discover "tied-triplet" supposedly faking it for the true jazz beat. In other words, at the stock stepping of 6 punches for each major beat, triplets would be 2+2+2 = 6. The true jazz rhythm - often called "swing" today - is 4 1/2 + 1 1/2 perforations = 6. Companies like QRS sloughed off 4+2 = 6, the kind of rhythm one expected to hear with BOO-HOO at the twin pianos with Guy Lombardo's Orchestra ... not MOANIN' LOW as sung by Libby Holman in earlier days. If we were to engage in the Pianola roll version of Nazi 'book burning', every "tied-triplet" jazz? roll would be pitched into the blaze. These musical letdowns foisted off as 'artist rolls' or 'original performance arrangements' are what alienated many of the truly musical in the 'Twenties, contributing to the bad reputation that player instruments often received in cultural circles.)

    Thus, it's no great mystery to arrange perforated music for the pneumatic Player-Piano in all of its forms, but the essentials of "specific striking" and a calculated "key depression delay" of the slightest kind MUST BE INCORPORATED into the Master roll. Hand-playing has nothing to do with the final release.

    That means, of course, that the stepping must be variable, as it is in the Interpretive Arrangement school of perforating. If 7 punches per beat - or 11 - are required, the music should have this, and the arranger must also bestow the correct rhythm - as much as the Pianola's roll travel speed and stepping alternatives allow. Having said this, the bulk of the "post-radio" rolls, dating back to the middle 'Twenties, when the industry began to decline, should be discarded ... unless one wishes to study WHAT PEOPLE HEARD after buying a costly Mason & Hamlin Ampico grand piano ... or a sonorous Weber Duo-Art upright. The general public gravitated to the Orthophonic Victrola and the Atwater-Kent radio for good reason: better music and far less money.

    (Another opinion here: What a pity! A fine piano of that day, when people still played in the parlour, could have been complemented by music rolls - especially the 'four hand' variety - which genuinely reflected the Victor Arden and Phil Ohman performances heard on the radio, on 78 rpm records, in the talking pictures and especially on the stage in 3 of George Gershwin's best musicals: FUNNY FACE - OH, KAY - and LADY, BE GOOD. If you have overdosed on the phony "Arden & Ohman" rolls produced by QRS and other companies of that period, you owe it to yourself to purchase the CD of "Keyboard Wizards" - No. 3 - Published by Pearl Records Historic reissue; Publication date: 1996 ISBN: GEMM CD 9203 -- it can be obtained from this URL link, Once experienced in audio, there's not much you can say about the old rolls, except that they never came close to the 2 famous pianists, nor did the factories even try to simulate their rippling, staccato arpeggios.)


    While the Player-Piano reached its crest of popularity in the 'Teens through the early 'Twenties, it had inertia, in spite of radio's presence ... just like the Hollywood film factories which stumbled along for approximately 15 more years before succumbing to the dominance of television, followed by the VHS recorder. It was radio - in tandem with Gershwin's Broadway musicals, as well as the SCANDALS revues by George White - which brought the team of Arden & Ohman to the airwaves. By the 'Twenties and on through the late 'Thirties, duo-pianists would be performing the latest popular music, from FACE THE MUSIC AND DANCE to DEEP PURPLE ... but the perforated music roll just sat on the sidelines, elongated chords (when staccato playing was the norm!) and giving the dwindling customers "big chord" rolls - and little else.

    Interpretive Arrangements began with the idea of perforating Master rolls in tandem with audio analysis, something which began on the West Coast, with me, in the early 'Fifties. Since the days of the Webcor and the Wilcox-Gay Tape Recordio - later the Wollensack - I've never been far away from a tape machine, able to study the striking, the tempi and the improvised effects - measure by measure - with the ultimate source: audio.

    (The patched-up 'duet' rolls created from hand-played marking pianos, mostly from the 'Teens, were the ultimate turn-off and a travesty to even amateur duo-pianists. Among the pits, could be cited AMERICA ABROAD played by "Bentz & Banta" for the Duo-Art in 1917 ... and some long-forgotten Rolla Artis 'four hand' arrangement of SO LONG, LETTY, a Wurlitzer 88-Note release; these two rolls featured good music, but the performance was too erratic for anybody's musical enjoyment ... and these were mercifully cut out of the catalogues a few years later, when the Jazz Age approached. Strict rhythm, not the Pianola imitating 2 drunken pianists, was "in" when the new decade approached.)

    Thus, the 'four hand' style of roll slushed along from its pathetic infancy and finally saw the light of day at The Musical Wonder House concerts and subsequently through ARTCRAFT Rolls, which began there. Still discussed today were the "Figaro" FACTOTUM ARIA from Rossini's BARBER OF SEVILLE and the WALTZ FROM THE 'GOLDEN MOUNTAINS' from a movie scored by Shostakovich -- both Luboschutz & Nemenoff transcriptions arranged by L. D. Henderson for solo Pianola. (Note: Lois Konvalinka has been after me for several decades to re-master these 2 spectacular rolls for public use ... and since she's responsible for the ELLINGTON MEDLEY and THE CARIOCA [here in Maine - and almost ready for release], you can be sure that her influence might spur me to revisit these challenging arrangements in the near future.) Both these 'two-piano' rolls, among others created for museum concert performances, employ the 'delay' and the 'striking' details of Interpretive Arranging ... along with the variable stepping inherent in the system, which frees the musician from the restrictions of the formula-made commercial offerings. It's hard enough to convey the illusion of 2 separate artists, but more difficult still, when everything goes into the limitations of 6 perforations per beat.

    The New Century - 2000 - saw the creation of several rolls which pushed once more the illusion of multiple hands on two piano keyboards. THE CARIOCA - a Pianola transcription of the Max Steiner RKO film score (cut by audio analysis via Cassette tapes) - includes the finale with 'Fred & Ginger' dancing on 7 revolving FAKE grand pianos. Naturally, while one sees 7 pseudo-pianists at the circular assembly of the imitation instruments (one of the highlights from 1933's FLYING DOWN TO RIO), you hear 2 - possibly 3 - pianists on the soundtrack. Moreover, the Vincent Youmans CARIOCA melody is rather buried under a collage of other popular tunes, wherein the multiple pianos are playing a counter melody. Thanks to the assistance of Mark Lutton - famous on rolls for his version of LION TAMER RAG (inspired by an audio recording he supplied us) - the Astaire & Rogers sequence was cut with Walter Donaldson's MY BABY DON'T MEAN MAYBE NOW ('28), FAXed to the Studio in a lead sheet form. Taking cues from the highspeed playing on the RKO Photophone soundtrack plus this snappy Donaldson number, the Pianola "fakes" the 7 pianists one sees on the screen, but doesn't hear on the audio. It's a brief highlight in the ARTCRAFT Roll, and one which demonstrates that illusion can indeed bring the elements of four or more artists to the realm of a Player-Piano performance. The trick effects - all staccato striking beyond what one experiences on commercial rolls - are achieved through controlled juxtapositions of the effervescent notes, a stretch of the 'synchronizing' illusion created through calculated perforating delays ... all impossible in the graph paper and notation methods of the past (and extremely difficult to achieve in MIDI of today, which is - in our opinion - "electronic graph paper" when all is said and done).

    The crowning achievement of ARTCRAFT Rolls' endeavour to simulate multiple pianists (beyond "just two") began in 1996 with the arrangement of THE CHRSYANTHEMUM by Scott Joplin ... not the highly-popular piano solo which has been in our catalogue since 1986, but a thoroughly original and spectacular transcription by Mark Lutton, composed a little over 10 years later. The 2-piano, 4-pianist (8-hand) version of THE CHRYSANTHEMUM was the final roll "in progress" at the end of '96, already proofed as a 'note-score' by the talented pianist-composer. Then, the Play-Rite factory fire occurred in Turlock, Calif. at the start of February '97 ... ending all new releases for four, long years.

    (Luckily, ARTCRAFT had a large inventory at the time, so - save one Duo-Art roll - orders continued to be filled right through mid-2001, but the interrupted projects remained on the shelf. The last of these perforating efforts was THE CHRYSANTHEMUM, destined for release as both a Duo-Art 'reproducing' roll and an 88-Note Themodist standard roll, equipped with the Aeolian-Angelus Soft Pedal as well.)

    Be sure to check out the special photographic Website, which is part of this edition - We are featuring pictures of 'two piano' style arrangements, new and old - which relate to this Issu#5.


    THE CHRYSANTHEMUM began as a 24-page score, loaded with countermelodies by Mark Lutton ... but which remained faithful to the melodic line and the spirit of the original two-hand solo by Scott Joplin. While the 'note-score' (i.e., the 88-Note basic music roll), complete with "Interpretive Arranging", was ready to go, save the automatic Sustaining Pedal and the Duo-Art score, I expected to spent one week - 7 days - on the completion of this Ragtime extravaganza. As it turned out, the Lutton transcription required 3 1/2 weeks of time, due to the need to "play the Master" again and again, since there were 2 elements which had to be considered for the 'reproducing' arrangement:

    a) the range of tonality needed to be established to convey the illusion of just 1 or 2 pianists performing, at certain times, as well as when the ensemble would "join together" for a majestic '8 hand' performance. Already each of the 4 phantom pianists were perforated with different striking effects, so that work had been completed several years ago;

    b) the expression system had to be considered, and that turned into an extensive arranging challenge ... since the Duo-Art player was built in many forms, especially with regard to the Soft Pedal, which could be a felt strip that came between the hammers and the strings ... more typically a hammer rail lift ... and sometimes an action shift on late grand piano installations. Moreover, the lift style of Soft Pedal often had a jury-rig "boost" on the Accompaniment settings, usually #2, occasionally #1 and in some instruments #3 ... with 50% of the Duo-Art players having no alterations on this facet of the expression system. Thus, when dealing with chords up to 18 notes in scope - as when all 4 pianists were playing on two instruments - the arranger had to create a musical "shape" which was roughly the same on all Duo-Art Pianolas. [Note: the pedal player has none of these problems, since the Pianolist merely follows the dynamic stampings on the ARTCRAFT edition of THE CHRYSANTHEMUM and adjusts the dynamics accordingly, even when 'superhuman' chords are being featured.]

    Needless to say the NUMBER OF KEYS is paramount to the playing level of the Duo-Art, no big problem when a piano solo is envisioned. For example, #8 (the largest of 4 accordion pneumatics) "tugs" on the Pianola levers - which can be used effectively by the human interpreter - and yields a playing level of Mezzo-Forte (M.F.), the normal playing dynamic ... when 3 notes, only, are being depressed. Increase the chord size, to 5 and it might be necessary to achieve M.F. at #9 ... while #10 is the "magic threshold" for the Duo-Art, since that's when the GRADUATED 'LEAKER' is fully CLOSED, allowing no excess vacuum from the electric pump to "bleed out" into the atmosphere.

    It's important at this point to stress the fact that the voicing of the piano hammers, especially in the treble, are of primary concern, here. If the felts are softer as the scale rises, then M.F. at the same intensity SHOULD BE THE SAME at any part of the piano keyboard. (Rarely is this so, today, but that's the goal and it's worth having the hammers "voiced" - or replaced - in order to achieve an EVEN SCALE whenever the 'reproducing' piano is being serviced or regulated.) The softer felts also mean a wider dynamic range since higher vacuum levels can be used for the expression system.

    The first challenge was to create the semblance of 1 single pianist playing - in the middle of the arrangement - while the other 3 remained idle for a period of time. Here, the traditional Soft Pedal was used, while the dynamic range was lowered to the bare minimum, with a slight Themodist accent for the melody notes. The illusion of a solo artist had to be EXTREMELY soft, to provide a musical contrast with the other "soft passages" requiring 4 to 6 additional hands, since these would by louder by their very nature. No staccato was needed for this solo pianist, and any Duo-Art action with a reasonably-adjusted Soft Pedal mechanism should do full justice to this part of the performance effect. Still, one was arranging the score to be "softer than soft, but still accented moderately" in order to provide a contrast in tonality ... so the perforating focus had to be absolute at all times.

    The major musical feat was the variation in the middle of THE CHRYSANTHEMUM which called for 18-note chords playing at Pianissimo (P.P.) - the softest the instrument can play. Here was a principal problem for the Duo-Art arrangement, as the "programmed performance" should be roughly similar on all versions of the expression player.

    When the Duo-Art is running at P.P., the LEAKER - mentioned above - is fully open, allowing most of the excess power (vacuum) to bleed out of the instrument through a muffler in the expression box. (Like most automobile mufflers it can be 'heard' by those who listen for it!) Consider, however, that the wind motor which operates the roll (save the late Duo-Art instruments with an electric drive) ... the Soft and Sustaining Pedal pneumatics ... the tracking system ... and the valves for the pneumatic stack are all COMPETING for the SAME low volume, just enough vacuum to cause the 13 to 18 piano hammers to strike as 4 pianists would: softly, but precisely.

    The solution was two-fold. First, it was decided that the automatic Soft Pedal would not be used for this particular "large chord" variation of the Joplin melody. Instead, the roll would be marked with stamps at the beginning and end, which call for the Soft Pedal to be used as an option. The Duo-Art customer could either elect to ignore the pedal - when the gigantic chords played - and either use the traditional foot pedal (for the keyboard pianist) or operate the SOFT setting in the keyslip 'Dyanamic Lever' (Normal-Soft-Dance). THE CHRYSANTHEMUM plays at Mezzo-Piano (M.P.) - in between Soft and Normal (P. and M.F.) on our 7 foot long Steinway 'AR' instrument without the hammer rail lift ... or at something in between Piano (P.) and Pianissimo (P.P.) when the pneumatic activates the Soft Pedal effect. After trying the Master roll in a variety of atmospheric situations - over the course of a week - including different Studio humidity and temperature levels, we achieved a "soft" effect which is inherent in the roll, and which can be further modified by the real Soft Pedal - if desired. Vacuum changes, 'only', are what control the Duo-Art action for this tricky and unusual Ragtime variation.

    This vacuum scoring was not that simple. With the Pianola levers and manual control (or what Aeolian called "The Duo-Art as a Pianola" in their old brochures), the Master roll had verve and no sense of striking failure ... since the human fingers which operate the levers are FASTER and graduate with MORE FORCE than the pneumatics which "tug" on the same mechanical linkages. A quick study to see what my hands were doing revealed that subsconciously I was controlling the LEAKER through the Pianola levers, something which, heretofore, had not been incoroporated into the expression score. The Master roll soon had a second set of perforations added, which advanced the vacuum levels 'toward' the #10 intensity - as explained above - and then dropped rapidly in time for the next super-chord to arrive. In other words, there was "expression in between the playing" so that the LEAKER would no longer be a factor when it came to the notes playing at soft levels. The up/down approach - in between the chords - gave a "puff of vacuum power" to spill through the various components, leaving just enough to trigger the stack valves and cause the notes to strike without any hesitations and failure - yet be in a range of P.P. to M.F. - averaging P. to M.P., consistent with the manuscript's ideals.

    There again, those airheads, 'artist legacy' types and the "musically uninitiated" (to quote Dr. Oliver Schaff in the 'Teens) don't really understand what's going on with the virtuoso 'reproducing' roll - or the Pianola lever - interpretations. (Composer Schaff wrote books on arranging theory and panned the concept of 'hand-played' rolls, also being associated with the Standard Music Roll Co., in Orange NJ during their period of 'Electra' and 'Arto' rolls.) You can see ... from the descriptions above ... that the arranger is tackling performance challenges which have nothing to do with keyboard playing in the slightest. All is determined by marginal perforations which control how pneumatics "pull" on the same levers which the human can operate with more force and with greater rapidity ... and the elements of a vacuum system with a LEAKER are crucial to the 'standardized' success for soft passages with 18 keys striking in unison, as this '8 hand' arrangement required.

    The dual-finale of THE CHRYSANTHEMUM is an excerise in contrapuntal virtuosity ... featuring syncopated accents, graduated staccato striking (to simulate different pianists) and a performance bravura which is rarely experienced on either the electric or pedal Pianola. Here, "all stops are out" - to quote from organ terminology - so whatever one's player can do, in the Fortissimo (F.F.) range - and beyond - that will be the musical triumph for the Coda. What's doubly amazing is that the 18-note variation returns, this time as an ultra-loud rendition, not as a recapitulation of the soft (but not 'wheezy') earlier reading ... but as a brassy, grand demonstration of the Player-Piano's immense power, a melodic rejoicing in the fullest artistic sense.

    While many ARTCRAFT Rolls have pushed the performance horizons well beyond the droning and predictable rolls of the past, from LINNMANIA-MARSEILLAISE to MEPHISTO WALTZ, clearly THE CHRYSANTHEMUM in the new Joplin-Lutton transcription for Pianola represents another zenith in expression arranging techniques. More time went into the Duo-Art score during December 2000 than was expended on the original Interpretive Arrangement (note-score) in December 1996. The next time another '8 hand' twin-piano arrangement comes our way, we'll allow 3 weeks 'plus' instead of the standard single 7 days for the Ampico or Duo-Art part of the Master Roll!

    It will be a joy when this particular arrangement is in the hands of player owners. Those with pedal players can just adjust by 'feel', and those who have a Duo-Art instrument can relish the fact that through a lot of extra handwork, their automatic Pianola will accomplish roughly the same performance, through the medium of the marginal perforations.

    Now ... anything else from the ARTCRAFT Studio, with Play-Rite duplicating our rolls once more, will be brand-new ... all material arranged in the New Century!

-- L. Douglas Henderson, ARTCRAFT Music Rolls Wiscasset, Maine 04578 February 27, 2001


Continue with the special photographic URL with pictures of 'two piano' arrangements, along with additional explanatory text -


Browser Update:

If you checked our Newsletter #4,  we have good news regarding Opera, the ultra-fast Norwegian browser.

Version 5.02 was released only a few weeks ago, and it's way ahead of Version 4.02, described recently, so much - in fact - that we made Opera 5.02 the DEFAULT browser at ARTCRAFT and linked it to Eudora 5.0.2 as the DEFAULT E-Mail service. Both are "free", now, and are full-featured. They are less apt to be affected by viruses, since Opera/Eudora are stand alone applications. You can download Opera from their Home Page - . Also, you should really take a few minutes - if the bloated 'Big Brother' nature of IE and AOL-Netscape are annoying you - and read their MANIFESTO ... something quite different from the corporate attitudes of the other powers in this field -

Opera definitely preaches "democracy" -- something which has been strained to its limits in recent times, here in the States - in my opinion.

Eudora can be found at this URL - (Version 5.0.2)

Again, we get no kickbacks from recommending either of these free applications. You can try them in these updated forms - also for Mac - and if you get the 'feel' of them, we bet you'll make them DEFAULTS and keep the slow-moving fatso, virus-prone applications on the sidelines, used only for specific purposes now and then.

[End of ARTCRAFT commercial!]



    The next ARTCRAFT arrangement ... starting in a day or so ... will be an Ampico performance - also issued in tandem for the 88-Note player, but without the Themodist perforations.

    In order to keep our readers 'guessing' ... we'll just say - at this point - that it will be a Pianola transcription which has many elements of two-piano playing ... so the remarks above should apply to this familiar and snappy composition of the late 'Teens. Also - there will be a special stamp, for one chorus, which should give the Ampico owner - or Pianolist - a chuckle, at the expense of those with MIDI instruments. Stay tuned, for the paper will be threaded into the next available Leabarjan perforator by midweek ... and we might even publish a short Bulletin designed for Ampico (and 88-Note) enthusiasts, since the Play-Rite equipment is - at this time - now converted over to that music roll format.

Also - I had plans for a different Newsletter from this one, with the usual "twin topics" - figuring that one and/or the other would appeal to our many valued readers - and growing in the roster all the time. However, we spent Nov. and Dec. on nonstop mail-order roll shipping ... which ended on December 26th. The next day I commenced that '8 hand' roll project, described above in detail, and this was sent by Express Mail to Play-Rite on January 27th. That evening both Lois (Konvalinka) and I got the 'flu, and perhaps a mild case of pneumonia on my part. There went another 3 weeks, mostly staying in bed and in my case, experiencing extreme chills for a while. Roll orders resumed on February 21st, and then ... our beloved dachshund Liesl, a 'family member' for 14 of her 15 years, passed away, peacefully, at the end of a 'full' and normal day. For her, it was all routine, and she probably thought she was just going to sleep. For us, it has been a painful void, since - while we expect to look for another dog in Spring - we both know that a pet who was this intelligent and so full of personality will probably never cross our paths again. Liesl loved to put her toy balls on the stacks of Play-Rite rolls being criss-crossed during the massive unpacking operations, and she always paced complete rectangles around our Campers, when on the road - once we were set up. I've never seen a dog that organized her toys in lines or triangles, and who also put them away in a wicker basket (which she requisitioned, on her own).

    The words above probably will mean little to many readers, especially if they've never had a close and long-time relationship with a dog or cat ... but Liesl did make an impression on many people. One ARTCRAFT customer in New Jersey said that he wasn't "into dogs" but made an exception for our black dachshund.

    Her passing - and the grief we're experiencing during this unhappy time - had something to do with framing this particular Newsletter. It was easier to write about "current activities" in the Studio, i.e. roll arranging, than to scour the attic for my piano books, historic letters and paper materials for composing a typical ARTCRAFT article.

    So, on that note, we'll wish you and yours the best of health ... and are happy to announce that Ampico rolls will be made again, the first time in our Studio since 1988. (How time flies when you are having fun.)

                                                                                                                                                                L. Douglas Henderson - ARTCRAFT Music Rolls

Wiscasset, Maine 04578
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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
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