Player-Pianos (or Pianolas)
traditionally have foot pedals to establish the vacuum, which
produce the dynamics of the overall performance. The Tempo
Lever is part of the accenting operation, accelerating
for the next melodic note or chord, then ritarding
the roll speed while "taking up the slack" with the
other foot pedal. Done correctly, the music measures have the
precise rhythm while notes and chords are "pulled out" for solo effects. Beyond this
there are Soft Treble and Soft Bass controls, which let the
roll interpreter refine the performance by suppressing half of
the scale during the accenting activity.
Here, we have an excellent
quality player-piano just "running
a roll" as somebody pedals, monotonously. The roll
is a sheet music transfer - not up to the standards of
ARTCRAFT Interpretive Arrangements which feature graduated
staccato and key depressions - but with a little dexterity
this lackluster roll can be made to perform with a sense of
panache and melodic excitement.
Sadly, the Strauss waltz performed here is funereal. The piano
just plays the roll and there is no involvement by the person
operating the pedals.
Performances like this are
what reinforce the negative stereotype of the Player-Piano.
The instrument was designed to be "interpretive". Those who just want music
rattling away should purchase a high end stereo with exponential speakers and enjoy piano music
in that fashion. Not only is it less expensive but the audio
of piano recordings requires no tuning nor player
-- L. Douglas Henderson
ARTCRAFT Music Rolls
December 11, 2011