ARTCRAFT "Ampico" Music Roll Page

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Progress report and news concerning the NEW Interpretive Arrangements for the Ampico expression player ... to be created by ARTCRAFT Music Rolls in Maine

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New "Update Page" for the restoration of our 1926 BREWSTER Marque Ampico expression player. Check it out!

ARTCRAFT Music Rolls announces "The Ampico Project" in the MMD, an Internet newsletter for Player-Piano owners.
Here's a reprint of a posting that was sent to the Editors on June 13, 1998:

Subject: ARTCRAFT will be making NEW Ampico rolls
Date: Sat, 13 Jun 1998
From: "L. Douglas Henderson" <>
Organization: ARTCRAFT Music Rolls

Hello MMD readers,

We just purchased a 1926 Brewster 'Marque Ampico' upright, and hope to transport it back to Maine in August, using the special Haulmark piano trailer. [See this URL for the rig, which has an illustration of our 1929 Story & Clark 'Reprotone' on the remote control electric winch:]

What's unusual about this purchase of a "frozen stiff/as is" pedal Ampico is that a) it's going to be rebuilt (nearby) in Maine by piano technician Bob Hunt ... and b) he's going to make available his Franklin pedal Ampico for my Fall/Winter use, while the Brewster gets restored - both as a piano and as an expression player.

If you or your friends are interested in the forthcoming Ampico rolls we'll create, please send us your Internet address. At this time we are compiling an "Ampico database" for all announcements about the Master Rolls and the forthcoming releases.

If you have heard our arrangement of CLEOPATRA RAG by Joseph Lamb (Ampico, 4-hand arr. - based on the Hersh & Montgomery RCA-Victor LP) you can imagine the VIRTUOSO music we'll be offering in the near future.

ARTCRAFT intends to go the opposite direction in musical performance from the original Ampico library. If you want Dinner Music and dreamy medleys - background music, as it were - the old selections are always
available, often as recuts. If something like CLEOPATRA RAG - which will transform the Ampico into a "soloist" or "virtuoso performer" - is what you seek for your electric expression player, then we hope to fill that void.

CLEOPATRA RAG, by the way, is not available from ARTCRAFT. A few copies are still avaialble at $17.00 + 2.00 shipping from this address:

Dale Lawrence, c/o The Automatic Music Foundation
837 Coventry Road
Kensington, CA 94707

This was created for a performance during the '88 San Francisco AMICA player club convention which also featured pianist-composer Max Morath on the concert bill. It was this Ragtime arrangement which led Max to suggest that ARTCRAFT perforate rolls from 2 of his own musical compositions: ONE FOR NORMA and POVERTY GULCH RAG (from "Cripple Creek Suite") - both as 88-Note and Duo-Art releases. These acclaimed rolls are described in the ARTCRAFT Internet catalogue; see the Roll Menu and select the 2 titles from this location:

As a side note, CLEOPATRA RAG is also available @ $15.00 plus shipping in a special 88-Note arrangement, which uses the EXTRA TOP KEYS in the treble - as featured by the duo-pianists on the out-of-print RCA-Victor LP. If you have a "full-scale" 88-Note player, we recommend this version, since there are many notes in this edition which are beyond the scope of the Ampico keyboard scale.

Again, you should get in touch with Dale Lawrence for this perforated extravaganza - in either format.

Let's hear from you, if you want to receive E-Mail announcements about ARTCRAFT Ampico rolls.

(signed) Douglas Henderson - ARTCRAFT Music Rolls, Wiscasset, Maine 04578 (USA)

Why seek the pedal-operated MARQUE AMPICO instead
the standard electric AMPICO models?

[An ARTCRAFT Editorial]

In case you, the Ampico owner, wonder why the PEDAL version of the instrument was selected for roll-arranging purposes, here's the answer!

There are really no useful hand controls on the electric Ampico player, which can aid a Pianolist in pushing the instrument to its pianistic limits. The two crescendo buttons - absent on many models such as the Baby Ampico upright and the 'B'-model grand pianos after 1929 - are rather useless when one is interpreting rolls on a note-by-note control basis. While these sluggish buttons might improve something like PAGAN LOVE SONG or Irving Berlin's ALWAYS, they are total washouts when performing Gershwin's jazz music or a fiery Liszt composition - in a concert presentation.

It's essential to know the latitudes of the player action, when creating one of our Interpretive Arrangements. Thus, the Marque Ampico allows the musician to "test the 88-Note player" against the "Ampico expression score" - while leaving the roll on the same piano. (One's musical thoughts tend to evaporate when having to rewind and 'shift' players, which would be the Duo-Art Pianola by Aeolian at The ARTCRAFT Studio.)

The pedal Ampico is one of the most unpleasant instruments to use with the expression mechanism running, since the design divorces the Pianolist from the interpretive 'feel' of the music roll ... and during soft passages the action "leaks like a sieve" as the vacuum is exhausted from the system in order to achieve artistic pianissimo striking effects. Yet, the musical results are - from the standpoint of the Ampico intensities - precisely the SAME as they would be on the electric models, from the early Stoddard-Ampico to the "A" to the "B"-series, especially since concert playing requires that little or no crescendo be used being too generalized and too slow (on all models) for virtuoso piano music. (The Ampico crescendo systems are used to best effect with wispy ballads and orchestral music, not performances which require rapid dynamic changes and pianistic striking effects!)

Since The American Piano Co. elected not to equip their versatile expression players with the graduated lever controls characteristic of the Welte-Mignon Licensee, the Duo-Art Pianola, the Artrio-Angelus and many models of the 'Recordo' players, the solution was to find a pedal Ampico and use it for arranging rolls which will ultimately be played by owners of the electrically-pumped instruments: upright and grand.

We are grateful that Bob Hunt of Kennebunk, Maine has lent his support to this Ampico project, since his Franklin upright will allow the Master Rolls to be made long before the restoration of the Brewster player has been completed (sometime in 1999, ostensibly).

We welcome the challenge of creating NEW Ampico rolls which will do full justice to the player action's potential. If you don't believe that the commercial Ampico rolls of the past were "one missed musical opportunity after another", ask the owner of a Marque Ampico how he/she plays the original 'reproducing' rolls. Invariably, the answer will be, "I turn off the Ampico because I get more expression with the pedals." This shouldn't be necessary! ... Those of you who have heard our celebrated roll of CLEOPATRA RAG already have a good idea of the sparkling, effervescent music which ought to have been available for the Ampico player during its heyday. Our forthcoming Interpretive Arrangements for the Ampico should elevate the old instrument from a "musical wallpaper machine" to the realm of an exciting concert performer!

L. Douglas Henderson, ARTCRAFT Music Rolls, Wiscasset, ME (June 16, 1998)

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