DUO-ART Music Rolls for the expression player

Selections: 'N' through 'Z'

[Back to DUO-ART Music Rolls 'A' through 'M'] [List of 88-Note Music Rolls]

NEW 'CASTLE HOUSE' MEDLEY: Fashion Rag, The Castle Walk and Dengozo Maxixe

Arranged and Interpreted for The Duo-Art Pianola by L. Douglas Henderson - $26.00

Readers of these music roll descriptions are probably getting tired of seeing Robin Pratt's name as the basis for yet another ARTCRAFT Roll, but credit must go to the Sandusky, Ohio piano technician for this medley, since the entire project was his idea. NEW 'CASTLE HOUSE' MEDLEY is a long-playing arrangement, combining the elements of 3 drab Melville Clark/QRS rolls in the #30,000 series ... arrangements which had musical potential, but which were - in their original commercial form - nothing more than formula sheet music transfers. Robin sent the 3 original rolls to The ARTCRAFT Studio, and this was the beginning of what soon became a spectacular Interpretive Arrangement.

Perforating nonstop over an entire weekend, Mr. Henderson "read" the lackluster old graph paper rolls on the #8-B Leabarjan - a large16-roll model which features a stylus for tracing-and-analyzing previously-perforated music. The changes to the old QRS rolls were as follows, regarding the note-score: a) the introduction of Variable-length striking, i.e., building-in a keyboard attack simulation which approximates a 128th of a note; b) a new "live" sustaining pedal score which is partly in the striking, with short bursts of the pneumatic pedal for generalized tonality only - an ARTCRAFT arranging effect which imitates the pedal 'taps' of a talented keyboard artist; c) variations in the musical breaks and riffs, since there is no need to repeat a performance 100% as the old music roll factories often did.

Next, a sparkling Duo-Art expression score was added, one which handled the large chords that appear on many early QRS arrangements, due to the fact that a 'metronome' spring-motor was included in the 'Apollo' 88-Note player action, which was part of the Melville Clark manufacturing enterprises along with their graph paper roll trancriptions. With the addition of the versatile Duo-Art expression perforations, the NEW 'CASTLE HOUSE' MEDLEY becomes another showpiece music roll: something to present when one wishes the attention to focus on the pneumatic player ... for this is no "background music" roll as were so many medleys offered by the sundry 'reproducing' piano companies.

FASHION RAG by Cohen is a little-known work, but a lively and stylish opening to what will be a 9-minute medley, depending upon one's tempo setting. Next, THE CASTLE WALK, created for Vernon and Irene Castle by Ford Dabney and James Reese Europe fills the bill. Finally, the Brazilian "maxixe" dance by Ernesto Nazareth - DENGOZO - completes the programme. (Fans of Astaire and Rogers movies will recognize the latter number, for the entire Dengozo composition is danced by the couple in the 1939 RKO film, which chronicled the lives of the Castle husband-and-wife dancing team. Typically, the Hollywood company did not mention the title of the music - or the composer - but the sequence begins when Ginger, playing Irene Castle, announces the "Maxixe" as one of many dances they introduced to American audiences.)

If you possess ANY of the many QRS selections in the #30,000 series, you should order this roll ... if only to stage a 'before and after' demonstration for your visitors. With or without the Duo-Art expression, the original rolls pale when played side-by-side with this long-playing ARTCRAFT release. There is no better way to demonstrate the absolute SUPERIORITY of the Interpretive perforating method over the boring methods of the past (sadly, still in-use with commercial rolls today).

Order NEW 'CASTLE HOUSE' MEDLEY if you want exciting accents, hypnotic rhythms and a perfect recreation of 'Teens dance music. Recently, Masanobu Ikemiya presented his "period dancers" on a programme in Damariscotta, Maine - a Summer (1997) Ragtime show in The Arcady Festival series, which featured the New York Ragtime Orchestra. Two of the numbers were the same selections appearing on this ARTCRAFT Roll: THE CASTLE WALK and DENGOZO. Mr. Henderson was in-attendance and mentioned this fact during Intermission, resulting in the pianist-conductor purchasing a copy for himself ... to use on his Hallet & Davis 'Virtuolo' player in Bar Harbor! All the élan of a fine "Castle House" ballroom dance are inherent in this unique ARTCRAFT Roll, which is proof that old rolls shouldn't be played, but instead used as the 'basis' for brand-new, improved arrangements. Your Duo-Art - and your audiences - deserve this quality ARTCRAFT roll! [Link to the 88-Note edition]

NEW 'PINK TEA' Fox Trot -Edna Bentz-

"Played by the Composer" for The Duo-Art Pianola
Re-Mastered and Interpreted by L. Douglas Henderson - $18.50

If you have heard the original version of this Duo-Art roll, prepare for a musical surprise! Edna Bentz (Woods) - later the wife of the chief classical arranger for The Aeolian Company - began with a series of Ragtime-influenced snappy syncopated numbers, in the early days of the Duo-Art expression player. Her contemporary, Felix Arndt, was in charge of the salon and popular music departments ... and the early 'reproducing' rolls issued in the 'Teens reflect that exciting experimental period of the semi-automatic Pianola. Unfortunately - the early popular Duo-Art releases were jerky, having been patched-up from erratic masters which were "hand-played" used Aeolian's PNEUMATIC-CUTTING perforators ... which gave the listener an instant 'note-score playback', but one which introduced all sorts of striking and rhythmic irregularities. Moreover, the early Duo-Art expression scores were Dullsville, merely fixed (and usually loud) arrangements which were additionally muddied-up with excessive sustaining pedal scores. As with so many rolls, the musical potential was THERE ... but untapped until this commercial roll was reworked in The ARTCRAFT Studio.

While Mr. Henderson did not alter the quirky rhythm - so characteristic of "hand-played" music rolls of the period - or tamper with the playing notes, the ARTCRAFT edition of NEW 'PINK TEA' Fox Trot was given an entirely new sustaining pedal track, additional Themodist ("solo") perforations and, most importantly: EVERY SINGLE PERFORATION WAS SHORTENED or LENGTHENED to yield the maximum artistic "striking effect". Suddenly, the captivating syncopated melody was no long "buried" in an arrangement of clipped and excessively-sustained notes!

A customer in Pennsylvania, who owned a George Steck 'Duo-Art' grand, upon purchasing the ARTCRAFT revision, wrote, "It's like opening the windows and hearing the music for the first time ... or cleaning the wax out of one's ears!" (We can't improve on this statement!)

Again, beyond being a fascinating, bouncy composition - "played by the Composer" - NEW 'PINK TEA' Fox Trot once again demonstrates the 'need' to use old rolls as SOURCE MATERIAL for modern Interpretive Arrangements, arrangements which impart an imaginative and artisitic aura to the pneumatic striking. Had Mr. Henderson known what a success this roll would be, he would have addressed the twitchy rhythm of the early Aeolian release, by giving it a corrected stepping ratio. Still, metronome aside, this revitalized Ragtime-like early Fox Trot can stand on its own feet as an outstanding expression roll. Duo-Art owners with the original Aeolian edition should use this new version in side-by-side demonstrations. Of course, this brilliant dance number never sounded like Edna at the keyboard, then or now ... but the 'Eighties revision of her "playing" is American popular (period) music at its very best. Your toes will tap!

[Note, after World War I, there began in the United States a series of repressive quasi-'police-state' measures, referred to now as "The Palmer Raids" - named for the Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer, who in 1920 rounded-up thousands of radicals and Bolsheviks, denying the parties their civil rights ... and this touched-off a "pro-Americanism" or 'Red Scare' movement, in which Jazz music, Eastern European mores and the Negro influence came under close scrutiny. Under political pressure, many large music companies - such as The Victor Talking Machine Co. and The Aeolian Company - quickly removed Jazz and Ragtime titles from their libraries - this being the period when certain powers wanted a return to the Edwardian lifestyle. Edna Bentz' snappy rolls got the axe almost immediately, and were replaced by bland, mathematical Aeolian titles which had no suggestion of the earlier compositions. (A footnote to this ARTCRAFT "history lesson" is the interesting fact that the young J. Edgar Hoover had Mr. Palmer as his mentor.) Time and again sparkling music gets squashed by politicians. So - don't compare those later Bentz-Woods rolls to these "Castle House" delights of the 'Teens!]

ON THE TRAIL from The Grand Canyon Suite (1932) -Ferde Grofé-

Arranged and Interpreted for the The Duo-Art Pianola by L. Douglas Henderson - $28.00

One of the most ambitious rolls to emerge from The ARTCRAFT Studio in recent years is this spectacular roll from Grofé's classic American tone poem The Grand Canyon Suite ... this being the most-popular of the several numbers, the musical description of a cowboy, his stubborn donkeys and all the "whip-cracking" sizzle of of herding animals in a remote desert situation. Played against jazz syncopations and descriptive 'sound effects' is the haunting - and familiar - refrain, used for decades in commercials for (cough-cough) Phillip Morris cigarettes. The musical portrait of "the trail" is peerless, and nothing else that the composer ever wrote even came close to the dyanmic effect of this immortal music - commissioned by Paul Whiteman for this Concert Orchestra of the time. [Gus Kahn penned the now-forgotten words to the cowboy song, which separates the interpolations of animal hoofs, baying mules and rocks falling into The Grand Canyon, as the entourage negotiates a cliff-hanging trail. If you purchase this music roll, write to ARTCRAFT and we'll provide you with the original lyrics for the haunting vocal refrain of the lonely 'cowpoke'!]

Interpretive Arranging, which wasn't available during the era of the Duo-Art expression player action, is what makes this roll of ON THE TRAIL so outstanding, and an ideal roll for the demonstration of the instrument. The "keyboard attack" striking details - cut into the performance by Mr. Henderson - yield several levels of staccato; these, in turn, translate into 'separate rhythms' for the horse trots and other syncopated details inherent in the Grofé composition. (By contrast, old commercial rolls would have cut these all-important staccato notes in a hum-drum, formula, homogeneous fashion ... which whould have destroyed the vivid musical picture. This is probably why Aeolian and the other music roll factories of the 1930's avoided the distinctive number which translates PERFECTLY to the medium of the Player -Piano -- if the individual note's "striking" is considered in the initial perforating steps.)

ON THE TRAIL has pleased audiences in the concert hall as well as groups of piano craftsmen at several recent PTG (Piano Technicians Guild) conventions. The pianoforte - through the medium of this stellar ARTCRAFT Music Roll - yields all the tone colours and symphonic effects one would experience with a live orchestra's presentation. The finale, when the animals hasten their trot 'home', uses the resources of the Pianola, encompassing chords and crescendo effects that transcend any solo keyboard pianist in performance. If you like this type of American music, ON THE TRAIL should be in your music roll library -- and Grofé's intriguing piano novelty MISS MISCHIEF - described above - is the ideal "encore" for your home musicale!

Interpretive Arranging, which wasn't available during the era of the Duo-Art expression player action, is what makes this roll of ON THE TRAIL so outstanding, and an ideal roll for the demonstration of the instrument. The "keyboard attack" striking details - cut into the performance by Mr. Henderson - yield several levels of staccato; these, in turn, translate into 'separate rhythms' for the horse trots and other syncopated details inherent in the Grofé composition. (By contrast, old commercial rolls would have cut these all-important staccato notes in a hum-drum, formula, homogeneous fashion ... which whould have destroyed the vivid musical picture. This is probably why Aeolian and the other music roll factories of the 1930's avoided the distinctive number which translates PERFECTLY to the medium of the Player -Piano -- if the individual note's "striking" is considered in the initial perforating steps.)

ON THE TRAIL has pleased audiences in the concert hall as well as groups of piano craftsmen at several recent PTG (Piano Technicians Guild) conventions. The pianoforte - through the medium of this stellar ARTCRAFT Music Roll - yields all the tone colours and symphonic effects one would experience with a live orchestra's presentation. The finale, when the animals hasten their trot 'home', uses the resources of the Pianola, encompassing chords and crescendo effects that transcend any solo keyboard pianist in performance. If you like this kind of American music, ON THE TRAIL should be in your roll library -- and Grofé's intriguing piano novelty MISS MISCHIEF - described above - is the ideal "encore" for your home musicale! [Link to the 88-Note edition]

ONE FOR NORMA - A Ragtime Intermezzo (1976) -Max Morath-

Arranged and Interpreted for The Duo-Art Pianola by L. Douglas Henderson - $21.50

Max Morath - composer-entertainer-singer-pianist-historian (these and MANY MORE labels fail to categorize the multi-talented author of this sensitive syncopated piano solo!) - approached The ARTCRAFT Studio about a music roll project. The event took place shortly after a 1988 player-piano club convention in San Francisco, California, when Morath was the featured stage performer ... and Mr. Henderson's Ampico roll of CLEOPATRA RAG received its performance début on a program - the first of four such rolls requested by members of the world-wide collectors' group. Shortly after the West Coast event had ended, a letter and a parcel containing both sheet music and a tape recording (made from the Composer's Vanguard LP disc) arrived ... and the perforating began immediately in Maine.

ONE FOR NORMA, beyond being a haunting and lyric piano solo - in the contemporary Ragtime vein - is also a classic illustration of the "failure" of the pneumatic Player-Piano (in all its forms) to capture the essence of a particular artist ... unless the arrangement is so-designed as to involve the listener, who makes important tempo corrections at several specified points. When perforating the Master Roll, Mr. Henderson asked himself these 2 questions, "Do we fake the artist and skip his musical intent?" -- OR -- "Does the roll get arranged to 'mirror' the audio recording provided, in which case a human must compensate for the paper-build-up on the lower spool ... and select another tempo for the Trio which only matches the Vanguard LP at a faster paper travel calibration?" In short, "Should the Pianola owner set the tempo lever in order to achieve a performance that matches the 33 1/3 r.p.m. recording?"

As the international buyers of ONE FOR NORMA already know, the decision was made to arrange a roll that would strike like the artist, simulate his dynamics and performance style ... but which would "involve" the listener at 3 key points, since the limited options for a music roll preclude any "unattended" instrument from 'reproducing' a particular pianist - and in this case, the COMPOSER as well, who suggested the transcription in the first place! [If you, the reader, really believe you are hearing Josef Hofmann, Josef Lhévinne, 'Fats' Waller, 'Jelly Roll' Morton or Vladimir Horowitz on paper music rolls, you either a) need to LISTEN to original audio recordings more carefully and/or b) study musical subjects. Those who engage in contemporary ramblings about 'artist authenticity' most probably have been smoking something strange!] Human interaction with the music roll - even on 'reproducing' expression players like the Duo-Art and Ampico - is essential "if" the ambience of an artist's performance is to be simulated. Happily, ONE FOR NORMA can be played side-by-side with the original '70s audio recording ... further proof that music rolls need the human element when astute listening pleasures are concerned!

There are only several 'key' tempo settings to make, when enjoying this amazing simulation of composer Morath: Tempo 75 for the 'A' and 'B' themes ... Tempo 85 for the Trio, which runs a tad more slowly than the first two melodies, but which requires A FASTER PAPER TRAVEL NORM in order to achieve the "striking details" of the phonograph record ... and the recapitulation (the finale) which is Tempo 65, to compensate for the tempo acceleration caused by paper accumulating on the lower spool. In other words, Tempo 75 at the start of this roll EQUALS Tempo 65 at the end, one of the characteristics of the Player-Piano designs! ONE FOR NORMA is phrased throughout each "block" of music, and all the pedal shadings and accents - including subtle solo effects! - have been perforated for your enjoyment. One only needs to correct for the paper speed and "presto" - The Duo-Art Pianola is imitating the Vanguard LP to an amazing degree!

So pleased was the Composer with this music roll that he suggested a contrasting number, which was created in The Studio a few years later: POVERTY GULCH Rag - from his amazing Cripple Creek Suite for the piano. We recommend both Duo-Art rolls, since the "boisterous" second composition contrasts beautifully with this Joplin-Chopinesque number, one of the most lyric syncopated pieces ever written. It's the kind of Ragtime intermezzo which could only be created by Mr. Morath. Short of his performing it by hand on your piano's keyboard, this music roll is the perfect artistic substitute ... and it can be played next to his Vanguard LP, if you possess an original copy! [Link to the 88-Note edition]

THE OYSTER SHIMMY - A Homage to 'Jelly Roll' Morton (1992) -Galen Wilkes-

Arranged and Interpreted for The Duo-Art Pianola by L. Douglas Henderson - $24.00

Here's a "hot-hot" music roll, written by contemporary composer Galen Wilkes in the style of the famous Morton "bordello" compositions - of which THE NAKED DANCE exists in the ARTCRAFT Catalogue as one of the two-known examples of this genre. Actually, THE OYSTER SHIMMY is a few shades warmer than the "sporting house" originals - perhaps because the music was based on a dance that took place in the Cradle of Ragtime: Sedalia, Missouri, and not New Orleans, Louisiana - the legendary Morton haunt.

While doing some research on period Negro music - Wilkes being a respected historian as well as a musician - he discovered that in the former Red Light district of Sedalia, there used to be a dance which involved topless girls keeping oysters in the crevices of their backs -- and we'll cut off the narrative at this point, allowing your imagination to run its course.

While the music has been lost to history, Wilkes decided to compose a Morton-like piece suitable for the performance, and THE OYSTER SHIMMY was the result of his inspiration! This roll has bumps and grinds ... erotic syncopated rhythms ... sexy modulations ... and, is the type of number that even today would cause prudes to wince a bit (when not tapping their hypocritical toes). Composed for Ragtime pianist Jeff Barnhart - and perforated by ARTCRAFT at the suggestion of composer Wilkes - THE OYSTER SHIMMY received its musical début at The Niantic Ragtime Festival, a Connecticut gathering of the finest composers and musicians in the field. Barnhart attacked the piano with pulsating dynamics, separating the dotted-8ths and 16ths to the maximum, as is his rollicking keyboard style. Mr. Henderson performed this same music, using the 1929 'Reprotone' player by Story & Clark; the music roll version possessed many of the same erotic "keyboard striking" effects, but it also accomplished something outside the realm of any keyboard artist: OYSTER SLITHER interpolations, which oozed in and out of the music - heightening one's mental image of this topless dance from the past. There are just enough sprightly staccato figurations here - laced with modulations - to cause any listener to flinch a bit during the first half of the four-theme composition. Following a bridge, the music then takes a "driving" turn, building with heavy chords, a more pronounced rhythm and finally the "elbow-on-the-keyboard" crashes which were characteristic of some Morton performances, among them his famous TIGER RAG renditons. By the time THE OYSTER SHIMMY is ready to be rewound, all immediate listeners will be thoroughly exhausted. The music accomplishes in spirit everything that the title suggests!

Again, we warn customers not to purchase this roll if uptight people are expected to frequent the Pianola. The Duo-Art visits the Tenderloin or Bowery, musically-speaking, making this release the sexiest expression roll ever perforated. (Wow!) [Link to the 88-Note edition]

PANSY BLOSSOMS RAG (1909) -Charles L. Johnson-

Arranged and Interpreted for The Duo-Art Pianola by L. Douglas Henderson - $20.50

Charles L. Johnson is a name well-known to fans of Ragtime music. His imaginative and tricky compositions have delighted enthusiasts for years, being among the earliest of syncopated pieces for solo piano. [We won't spoil your pleasures of "musical discovery"... so refer you to books by Rudi Blesh and Trebor Tichenor/David Jasen on the subject of early Ragtime. If you desire to know more about C. L. Johnson's influence in the history of American popular music, you should begin by reading books and articles by these noted authors!]

PANSY BLOSSOMS RAG is one of the least-known pieces by the famous composer ... and this is probably due to being an "orchestral reduction" for the pianoforte. There are some elements - especially in the unusual Trio - which suggest the sustained nature of brass or stringed instruments (trumpets and violins) and not something written for two hands at a piano keyboard. Of course, the Pianola has no problem with this music, since extra 'pneumatic fingers' and sostenuto perforations carry the sparkling melody along - as if an orchestra were playing in "ragged-time" - as the early pieces came to be called.

There's another side of PANSY BLOSSOMS RAG, and this has to do with the Interpretive Arrangement which contains a "trick rhythm" in the 'A' theme. The surprise 'beat' commences as a subtle effect, noticeable only to the more seasoned listener ... but then, with each reprise of the melody, the off-centre measure becomes increasingly pronounced. Some might attribute the glitch to a defect in the ladder-chain, connected to the air motor, which pulls the roll along. By the time the roll reaches its conclusion there's no denying that "something is there" ... and the audience is riveted to the Duo-Art player, wondering what will happen next.

Shortly after its release, one of the founders of the Scott Joplin Festival - in Sedalia, Missoui - came up to the Arranger, prior to one of the evening Ragtime concerts. "Where did you get the idea of using that 'trick' rhythm?" the official asked, who owned an A. B. Chase 65/88-Note combination upright player (and who already had the roll in his personal collection). It was explained to him that PANSY BLOSSOMS RAG - being 'different' from the typical Johnson fare - required an orchestral approach to the arrangement, and that a "running gag" of a trick rhythm would make up for the fact that tonal colours - characteristic to the orchestra and pipe organ - would not be evident when following the piano solo transcription, as originally published. (This same musical circumstance applies to Grieg's IN THE HALL OF THE MOUNTAIN KING from Peer Gynt Suite, No. 1. The piano can expand the size of the chords, but can't rival oboes, violins, English horns, piccolos, 'cellos and the other elements of a symphonic ensemble ... necessary for Grieg's masterpiece.) In order to circumvent performance repetition, a "trick rhythm" was incorporated into the Interpretive Arrangement, and it has been fascinating audiences ever since!

The Trio features sustained bass notes, unusual for piano Ragtime (which usually offers octave+chord accompaniment), and these are set against highspeed staccato variations which - with the Duo-Art 'solo' system - add a spritely contrast to the other 2 themes. The Coda reprises the 'A' theme, now suggesting two dancers tripping over each other's feet, or something equally akilter, and closing with a couple of broken 'crash' chords. We guarantee there is no roll quite like PANSY BLOSSOMS RAG! (The unusual music - which received an equally distinctive perforated arrangement - was discovered by piano technician Robin Pratt, who obviously has a knack for finding scores which lend themselves to music rolls. Once again, The ARTCRAFT Studio is indebted to him for providing a copy of rare sheet music!) [Link to the 88-Note edition]

PICKLES and PEPPERS Rag (1909) -Adeline Shepherd-

Arranged and Interpreted for The Duo-Art Pianola by L. Douglas Henderson - $25.00

This is no ordinary Ragtime roll, but a tour-de-force of an arrangement, based upon a live performance by virtuoso pianist Masanobu Ikemiya. (Mr. Ikemiya's name might not be a 'household' word - yet - but those who have heard him perform in concert ... or have enjoyed his audio recordings ... know that here is indeed a DEFINITIVE pianist, exemplified when one hears him play the music of Louis Moreau Gottschalk. [Others might have built their careers upon 'Gottschalk interpretations' but NONE - in our opinion - have come close to the sparkling panache of this pianist at the keyboard. When he performs THE BANJO one imagines the actual stringed instrument ... and not just a piano being played with pyrotechnics!] Masanobu Ikemiya is the co-founder and director of the acclaimed Arcady Music Festival based in Bar Harbor, Maine -- lives in New York City and divides his time with concert tours of Russia, Japan, Guam and Central America. Being an enthusiast about syncopated music, he has "brought Ragtime" to the four corners of the Earth in his travels, and he continues to spread the infectious melodies with his 12-piece ensemble called The New York Ragtime Orchestra.)

What does the paragraph above have to do with the ARTCRAFT Music Roll? Everything ... for this Interpretive Arrangement captures all the spirit - and 'keyboard attack' - of Mr. Ikemiya at a Steinway grand piano. This perforated roll was made after an intensive analysis of the pianist's staccato 'touch' and playing style. While it captures everything he preserved on an audio recording, the roll is considerably longer, for it features impossible-to-play variations which grow out of the keyboard performance ... cut as if the artist were playing, but actually the domain of a mechanical musical instrument: the Player-Piano. Again, the relationship of this artist with the music of Gottschalk becomes obvious when hearing his recording - or this Duo-Art expression roll. The breaks and treble effects possess influences of the florid Victorian compositions, but are woven into the texture of 1900's Ragtime playing. If one compares an Ikemiya performance of Gottschalk's PASQUINADE to his reading of Shepherd's PICKLES and PEPPERS, the cross-pollination is evident to all listeners.

This arrangement of PICKLES and PEPPERS so excited the "source" pianist, that on several occasions - when it was being performed before an audience - the artist rushed forward, exclaiming to the enthralled listeners, "That's me! That's my playing! And even the parts I can't play sound like me!" (And - they do, for only the medium of Interpretive Arranging adds the striking detail which simulates a particular keyboard artist.)

ARTCRAFT Rolls wouldn't be so fraudulent as to claim that PICKLES and PEPPERS were a "reproduction" or a "recording" of this virtuoso pianist. The Pianola is an artistic machine controlled by an 'expression' player - the Duo-Art - but ... the MUSICAL EFFECT and the PERFORMANCE CONCEPT are a "performance alternative" to his human fingers, striking with uncanny precision every composition he plays. The Pianola, by contrast, complements his style by using its own attributes to convey an 'illusion' of the living pianist. It's another way of enjoying the ideas which came from the artist's own approach to this famous Ragtime number.

Would that music rolls from the past - and the sloppy MIDI solenoid players of today, such as the Disklavier - could have made their promotional campaigns more convincing with rolls of this calibre! The FAKE-Gershwin and FAKE-Horowitz rolls of yore, which sounded nothing like the pianists they supposedly represented, would have been acceptable to our modern ears ... had the ARTCRAFT arranging system been developed in past times. ARTCRAFT Rolls such as this release, based upon a real artist and his audio recordings, preserve the performance integrity of the actual virtuoso, because they echo the artist's "touch" while adding some technical feats of their own, yet modeled upon his own playing.

PICKLES and PEPPERSRag has been embraced by both Ragtime and classical music lovers, for it combines the best of both worlds. If you haven't had the experience of hearing Masanobu Ikemiya - live - performing in YOUR own local community, this Duo-Art roll will certainly transmit the effect of his playing - right on your own piano! Here's a roll for all ages and all occasions. It should be part of any comprehensive Duo-Art library. [Link to the 88-Note edition]

PORTRAIT of A SILVER LADY - A Waltz for the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad (1983) -Jack Rummel-

Arranged and Interpreted for The Duo-Art Pianola by L. Douglas Henderson - $22.50

Jack Rummel lives in Boulder, Colorado - where the 'Zephyr' passenger trains used to travel in the era of elegant rail service - and he has been a leading force in the Rocky Mountain Ragtime Festival, held annually in the scenic location. We first met him through Ragtime enthusiast Del Sewell, of St. Peters, Missouri - in a Sedalia restaurant filled with visitors to the annual 'Scott Joplin Festival'. There, Jack Rummel gave Mr. Henderson copies of music which he had written, after hearing that this might lead to player rolls of his compositions. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Sewell sent a parcel to The ARTCRAFT Studio which contained tape recordings of Dr. Rummel - as well as the talented Mississippi composer-pianist David T. Roberts, and he suggested that several titles be perforated with the Interpretive Arranging process. The project really began to move along when composer (and dentist) Rummel provided a copy of his Stomp-Off LP, featuring a wide array of original Ragtime pieces. Several roll releases were the direct result of this catalyst encounter: ROBERTO CLEMENTE, FOR KANSAS CITY and this syncopated Waltz: PORTRAIT of A SILVER LADY, the title being adapted from a history book about the Denver & Rio Grande railroad lines. (The first two ARTCRAFT Music Rolls represent the work of David T. Roberts, who also happens to be a friend - and kindred musical spirit - of Jack Rummel.)

It took some 'doing', once the audio recording analysis was completed, to convince the composer that changes had to be made in order to make a successful music roll, the pitfall being that a 100% imitation of the phonograph record would be bland - and lacking the human element. Compromises were made, by letter and proof-tapes, with the end result being a roll which quotes-the-score and which also doubles notes ... PLUS adding a bit of rubato and an arabesque here and there in the process. What emerged from the Leabarjan perforator was another roll which could be played in direct comparison with the composer's own keyboard performance!

PORTRAIT of A SILVER LADY is intriguing, lyric, haunting and sensitive ... and yet it contains chord progressions and tone colours which are syncopated and wistful at the same time, an impression of "The Railroad Era" as it used to be. It was decided early-on to issue this for the Duo-Art expression player only... since an insightful pedal Pianolist can (after taping over the top and bottom 4 holes on the tracker bar) add his or her own interpretation to the imaginative selection. The thought of somebody "bashing notes" on a hard-hammer, out-of-regulation pedal Player-Piano was just too painful to imagine, for this number requires subtle accents and a lighter touch, with only a few contrasting louder passages to balance the musical portrait.

The released Duo-Art roll features two illustrations adapted from the railroad book, and drawn especially for this arrangement by Ernest Bennett - a Virginia artist who has contributed to other ARTCRAFT Music Roll projects. Both are large line drawings - appearing at the beginning and the end of the perforated roll - showing the streamlined trains in the Colorado Rockies.

If the narrative above seems overly long, when compared to the average description of a commercial roll, remember that many people are often involved in Interpretive Arranging activities. The sheet music for any touching composition does not yield that essential 'spark' which leads to a good keyboard performance. (Witness the works of Chopin as scores alone. 'Stiff' and 'boring' are two words which come to mind!) Audio recordings die with their related equipment, and already 78's and 45's are beginning to join wire recordings and cylinder records as a medium which often can't be accessed. Music rolls, on the other hand, can be played on millions of Player-Pianos, copied on Xerox™ machines, and even studied/analyzed without the necessity of a pneumatic player action. It is in this light that so many people are drawn together - from time to time - to "preserve" music through the medium of an ARTCRAFT arrangement. The standardized player roll dates from 1909 ... and is still being created today, something which audio recordings and electronics - always in flux - cannot claim. Decades from now PORTRAIT of A SILVER LADY in some form will be providing musical pleasure ... and the source will be this Illustrated Duo-Art player roll!

If you like Waltz melodies and/or railroad trains, PORTRAIT of A SILVER LADY is highly recommended.

POVERTY GULCH Rag from The Cripple Creek Suite (1985) -Max Morath-

Arranged and Interpreted for The Duo-Art Pianola by L. Douglas Henderson - $24.00

Max Morath released his imaginative folio entitled The Cripple Creek Suite in the mid-'Eighties, and it remains to this day one of the most significant works of the decade. Each of the six selections, a contrast in the idiom of contemporary Ragtime, is named for a particular mine that once existed in Colorado's historic town of Cripple Creek ... and also where the early stages of the composer-pianist's career began, to a great extent. Drawing from classical music elements, 'Tin Pan Alley' syncopations and his own creativity, The Cripple Creek Suite is - in toto - a balanced musical program, presenting lively, bouncy music against plaintive and reflective, phrased pieces, each a distinctive 'gem' in its own right.

Back in the 'Eighties, ARTCRAFT maintained a booth in the Liberty Theatre, home base for the annual 'Scott Joplin Festival' - which was a much smaller and localized event in those days. Max Morath was appearing on one of the programmes - presenting some of his own compositions (one of which combined Joplin's PARAGON RAG with a counterpoint melody of his own devising) - and, as was the custom, he stopped by the ARTCRAFT display and "talked shop" about Ragtime. Shortly after Mr. Henderson's return to Maine, Max sent a letter, a score and an unusual Cassette tape, suggesting a second ARTCRAFT collaboration, the first being ONE FOR NORMA - described above. He was about to help celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Cripple Creek, Colorado ... and had been transcribing POVERTY GULCH Rag for full orchestra, augmenting it into a contrapuntal finale - one combining the 'C' and 'D' themes from this upbeat and somewhat 'rowdy' number.

The special Cassette tape featured a sound-on-sound recording, viz. Max Morath playing duets with himself ... and this was accompanied by suggestions on HOW to combine the two sections of POVERTY GULCH Rag into a spectacular finish. Time was short, due to his performance date commitments for the Colorado town, so both Morath-the-orchestrator and Henderson-the Pianola-arranger worked simultaneously ... but independently of each other. The music roll became an exciting challenge, and so fascinating were the Composer's ideas about the counterpoint Coda - i.e. two melodies superimposed upon each other - that Mr. Henderson "went ahead" and created HIS OWN 'SECOND' VARIATION ... expanding the music into a double conclusion. (Fortunately, Mr. Morath was performing in Maine, just as the Master Roll had been completed, so a tape of the finished arrangement - on the Studio's Duo-Art piano - was given to him during the Intermission.)

The Cripple Creek celebration was a musical triumph, according to a subsequent letter that Max Morath wrote to The ARTCRAFT Studio. The Duo-Art roll continues to be a huge success with Pianola enthusiasts, who are drawn into the music by the many modulations featured in the melody line ... and then become overwhelmed when the Player-Piano combines contrasting elements for a fantastic ending. Naturally, the Duo-Art "solo" (Themodist) system is brought into play for the pyrotechnics, separating the dual themes and presenting all the exciting accents which are inherent in this orchestral transcription of the music.

POVERTY GULCH Rag - as a music roll - gives the listener the "best" of everything: the piano solo, as written, alternating with "Pianola variations" which could never be played by hand - yet which reflect the striking essence of Max Morath at the keyboard. The finale, of course, is beyond even 2 pianists at a single instrument ... and the roll, due to Interpretive Arranging, gives the illusion of twin pianos - the perfect conclusion for this spirited "mining camp" music.

We strongly suggest that you play Morath's lyric ONE FOR NORMA against this 'earthy' and exciting Ragtime number, for the two compositions demonstrate the scope of the Composer's creative abilities. Together, the two rolls complement each other, and are certain to be the 'spice' for any Pianola musicale. Due to the fact that POVERTY GULCH Rag changes key (modulates) so frequently - often measure-by-measure - it's one of those toe-tapping pieces which transfixes any audience. Once the Pianola's keys begin moving, all immediate listeners are on a "ride" - a musical roller-coaster of a journey which builds to a majestic conclusion. Mr. Morath is well-known as an entertainer and pianist, but these 2 compositions - both perforated in The ARTCRAFT Studio at his own suggestion - demonstrate that he is one of the paramount composers of our time. Bring the raucous mining days - in spirit - into your home with his engaging POVERTY GULCH Rag! [Link to the 88-Note edition]

RAGGED EDGES - A Missouri Folk-Rag (1993) -Kevin Sanders-

Arranged and Interpreted for The Duo-Art Pianola by L. Douglas Henderson - $20.50

Composer Kevin Sanders, a guitarist, is one-half of the nucleus of the celebrated Etc. String Band ... an instrumental group devoted to the perpetuation and performance of stringed instruments. The duo, which features Dennis Pash on the banjo-mandolin, has done much to spread "Missouri folk-rags" and syncopated Caribbean melodies, especially in Ragtime Festivals - such as the Scott Joplin annual event in Sedalia, Missouri. Mr. Henderson has appeared on several concert programmes (as an Arranger-Pianolist) with the Etc. String Band ... and it was during one of the Niantic, Connecticut Ragtime Festivals that Kevin Sanders offered ARTCRAFT the opportunity to perforate his brand-new composition, aptly named RAGGED EDGES. Within a few months' time, a spectacular Interpretive Arrangement emerged from the music roll Studio in Wiscasset, Maine, and the distinctive modern 'folk rag' - often called Terre Verde in contemporary Ragtime circles these days - started "breaking sales charts" in the niche sphere of perforated music rolls.

RAGGED EDGES was arranged to give the listener the "concept" of the stringed instruments in an ensemble situation, and it captures the "melodic interplay" which is characteristic of Messrs. Sanders and Pash on their recordings and memorable concert appearances. The duo often plays as "one" - tossing an off-centre rhythmic figuration back and forth, at times making it difficult to discern whether the guitar (accompaniment) or the banjo-mandolin (theme) were leading at a particular given moment. The rich sonority of the guitar chords and counter-rhythms blend ideally with the precisioned sparkle and repetition of the hybrid banjo/mandolin (a rare instrument these days!). It was Mr. Henderson's task to use the 80 pneumatic 'fingers' of the Pianola action to convey the musical effect of the Etc. String Band, bringing the toe-tapping spirit of the music to the realm of the pianoforte.

That RAGGED EDGES succeeded as a music roll is an understatement, for shortly after its release - only weeks after being written down by the Composer - both the 88-Note and the Duo-Art 'reproducing' editions had to be re-ordered due to the DEMAND!(Generally speaking, an ARTCRAFT release sells as an expression [so-called 'reproducing'] roll or a standard 88-Note player roll. It's the rare arrangement which captivates both markets with equal sales appeal!) Many Duo-Art owners immediately ordered 2nd copies to use a gifts for their fellow Player-Piano friends ... making RAGGED EDGES one of the most popular offerings in The ARTCRAFT library.

This is an effervescent crowd-pleasing 'gem' of a composition, full of vitality and bursting with "tonal images" of the stringed instruments, which the Pianola arrangement presents with its own special technique. It's safe to say that nothing short of a genuine Interpretive Arrangement could capture the essence of Ragtime staccato - the plucking of strings as imitated by felt piano hammers. VARIABLE LENGTH perforations yield a staccato effect which defies description. There's a throbbing accent which permeates much of the melody, and this is enhanced by the unlimited technique which the pneumatic player action affords. The automatic expression score merely elevates the pulsating rhythm to even greater heights!

Collaborations between pianists/composers and the music roll arranger are the hallmark of many ARTCRAFT releases. This was certainly the case when RAGGED EDGES was being created in Maine, for Kevin Sanders had some "new ideas" for the bridge which connected the first themes and the Trio's modulation to another key. These changes were made on the Master Roll, and the final version - once duplicated - continues to delight all who hear the music. Treat yourself to a GOOD TIME, guaranteed when you order RAGGED EDGES for your Player-Piano! [Link to the 88-Note edition]

RATS RAG -Miller-

Arranged and Interpreted for The Duo-Art Pianola by L. Douglas Henderson - $20.50

Here's a music roll which answers that question: "What happens when a 'reproducing' piano has to play at THREE DIFFERENT DYNAMICS at the same time?"

Perhaps you never thought about this query, but the fact that pedal and 'reproducing' (expression) players are divided into HALVES, i.e. bass and treble divisions, means that only 2 specific striking intensities can be achieved at a single time ... at least with the traditional commercial roll-making methods. [Exceptions would be the Solo-Apollo which had a limited "theme" scale confined to the middle of the piano keyboard ... or the Flexotone actions used with APC (American Piano Control) rolls which featured a hammer rail Soft Pedal split into 3 divisions. The chances are high that you've never encountered one of these elusive instruments "in working condition". Neither player, however, could 'separate' the dynamics in the EXTREME TREBLE as is required by this spectacular presentation of RATS RAG!]

Originally, this was a formula roll made by a factory in the 'Teens - possibly by the U. S. Music Roll Company. The ARTCRAFT Interpretive Arrangement of RATS RAG is based upon a "recut" version of the now-anonymous roll, since it was arranged from a 'Golden Age' release by Phil Wenker, who duplicated old rolls in the early 'Seventies. (At the time, a number of perforating enterprises were threatening lawsuits about the alleged ownership of music roll brand names, so Mr. Wenker just published his 'Golden Age' reissues without revealing the sources. Mr. Henderson has seen and played other versions of RATS RAG by Connorized and Universal, both containing "counter-melodies" in the treble ... but neither presented the SAME 'third' off-centre melody which is embodied in this particular arrangement.)

When you play this version of RATS RAG - now with "interpretive striking", a new sustaining pedal score and Duo-Art expression added - prepare yourself for the "impossible", that is - THREE LEVELS of playing at the same time! The bass runs on the Accompaniment portion of the Duo-Art action. The treble is controlled by the Theme section of the expression system, but ... where a peculiar off-centre and slightly-dissonant second treble melody surrounds the Theme, this is where the 'third dynamic' works its musical magic. By clipping the striking of specific treble notes and by slightly offsetting the attack, the Duo-Art player actually achieves 2 separate playing levels in the treble division! It's pure physics: the secondary counter-melody is "choked" during striking, and this creates 2 distinct striking effects: the true Melodic Line under the control of the "solo" system and the slightly-muffled irregular melody which features shortened perforations. [Note: the original 'Golden Age' roll had the conventional homogeneous (same length) perforations, making it totally impossible to divide these treble elements for this kind of musical performance!]

RATS RAG is a loud roll, and one which requires good voicing for the upper treble hammers - if the "third dynamic" effect is to be achieved. Should you have an instrument with hard hammer felts, the roll will still be an accenting delight and a melodic curiosity from the past ... but you probably won't experience the mystique of that EXTRA treble playing level. Again, the Accompaniment is in the Mezzo-Forte (M.F.) "normal" range, for the most part -- the Theme is floating in the louder (F.) tones, due to the size of the chords -- and the counter-melody wanders about somewhere between these two norms, often dipping into Mezzo-Piano (M.P.) here and there, all determined by the state of one's particular piano action. The stiff arrangement, a characteristic of Ragtime rolls in the 'Teens, heightens that "third intensity" illusion during the counter-melody portions of this unusual Duo-Art performance.

The ARTCRAFT Roll of RATS RAG, to date, appears to have its greatest number of admirers in Southern California and in Paris, France. This is the roll to play when one wishes the unusual in syncopation!

RIALTO RIPPLES Rag (1917) -George Gershwin-

Arranged and Interpreted for The Duo-Art Pianola by L. Douglas Henderson - $23.50

If you are a fan of Gershwin's early music, look no farther than this memorable ARTCRAFT release for the Duo-Art player!

RIALTO RIPPLES is a distinctive and intriguing composition - and ... quite possibly was written for the dedication of the Rialto motion picture theatre, since George Gershwin had a long-running association with 'Roxy' Rothafel and his succession of ornate cinéma palaces. (If you read about George's life as a silent-movie pianist/arranger, you'll discover that he had ties with the Tivoli, the Capitol and other Rothafel establishments; pressing musical commitments forced him to decline Roxy's offer to write the dedication music for the Roxy Theatre in 1927, so Irving Berlin took up the invitation and contributed RUSSIAN LULLABYE [for a Byzantine décor?].

The instrumental Gershwin number is probably more-popular today than when originally released in the Composer's youth. All music rolls of RIALTO RIPPLES - prior to this ARTCRAFT release - have been dismal arrangements, some even bordering on the "offensive".

Possibly the "worst" of the lot is the 'hand-played' Uni-Record 88-Note roll (by Aeolian), supposedly made from Geshwin's own playing. The finished product of this jerky, erratic and sloppy "original" 1917 roll bears the trademark perforation editing of staff musician Rudy Elrebach, but the music - cut with Aeolian's choppy vibrating pneumatic 'recording' apparatus - has such ghastly rhythm that a Maëlzel metronome could melt down!! In recent times some talented music roll duplicators have tried to "correct the rhythm" using computer methods, but the Erlebach striking remains ... the characteristic 'Gershwin staccato' remains elusive ... and the result is merely a commercial roll of lackluster proportions, cleaned-up and totally missing the effervescent essence of RIALTO RIPPLES, as originally written.

There was a 2nd attempt at making a 'hand-played' roll of this number about a dozen years ago. Again, the completed 88-Note roll did not reflect the talents of the human pianist, whose keyboard playing was the source for the perforated music.

The ARTCRAFT edition of RIALTO RIPPLES began life as an 88-Note roll, originally arranged for concert performances at The Musical Wonder House (Music Museum), co-founded by Mr. Henderson and the Konvalinkas. So taken were museum visitors by this bouncy and captivating arrangement, that the Master Roll became one of the first offerings by ARTCRAFT, when it began as a sideline enterprise in 1982. It was only in recent times that the best-selling 88-Note roll became available as a Duo-Art edition, and the sales have literally "doubled" since it became a tandem offering. (Of course, the Master Roll already had the "Gershwin-like" Interpretive Arranging - so necessary for the success of the music - plus the acclaimed ARTCRAFT 'live' sustaining pedal score ... so it was only a matter of a few days' time to create an imaginative Duo-Art expression score which met the challenges of the Aeolian 'reproducing' piano action. RIALTO RIPPLES makes effective use of the Themodist [solo] system in this Duo-Art arrangement ... adding eccentric pulsations to a roll which already sparkled in its 88-Note pedal player form!)

Taking a cue from old 78 r.p.m. records of popular pianists - including those by George Gershwin - this edition of RIALTO RIPPLES has the "driving" keyboard attack and percussive accents which befit a theatre pianist (often in the orchestra pit) ... one who keeps a decisive rhythm and pronounced 'beat' for the stage dancers (this being the Vaudeville Era, after all!). No AUDIO recording of Gershwin playing his composition exists today, which isn't surprising since the piece wasn't much of a success with the Remick publishing house at the time. However, Mr. Henderson analyzed the performance style and keyboard attack on similar kinds of music, especially the Lady, Be Good! Columbia 78's from England and the Fox Movietone newsreel clips from the era of Girl Crazy. These - plus the recently-discovered 2 Gershwin radio program transcriptions - give all the "information" one needs to know when cutting an Interpretive Arrangement. The ARTCRAFT Roll of RIALTO RIPPLES uses the Pianola's characteristics in order to present a speculative musical performance, one which isn't "phony-historic" (as the old commercial rolls were) but a fresh interpretation which presents the Ragtime music in a manner characteristic with the era. "Gershwinesque" is the word which best describes this popular ARTCRAFT release for the Duo-Art! (Don't settle for anything less when playing RIALTO RIPPLES on your instrument!) [Link to the 88-Note edition]

SIX VARIATIONS on an Air by Salieri-Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart-

Arranged and Interpreted for The Duo-Art Pianola by L. Douglas Henderson - $24.50

When Antonio Salieri wrote the song "Mio caro Adone" - which became the basis for Mozart's exciting Theme-and-Variations composition - he probably had no idea how much the young composer could 'tweak' and 'twist' the stodgy music into an exciting keyboard solo. The motion picture about the Mozart-Salieri conflict, Amadeus, mentioned this number in a memorable scene, in which 'Mozart' (Tom Hulce) tells 'Salieri' (Murray Abraham) "your number yielded some 'good things'..." -- BUT -- sadly, this important music was not performed on the movie soundtrack. The Amadeus audience never got to enjoy the soaring variations which Mozart created from a formula melody, and typical of what the "old school" composer churned out during his long career. [Salieri was considered the successor to Gluck in the Paris opera scene, and he had a 50-year association with the Viennese court, 36 of them as Kapellmeister ... which is when Mozart sought a position, and probably penned this set of variations to demonstrate his musical abilities.]

By the time your Duo-Art player hits the "automatic rewind" there won't be a listener around who could hum even the first few measures of the original Salieri piece - a melody which would be called a 'dog' in contemporary circles today! (History is laden with 'hack' composers who could churn out reams of forgettable music, and some critics might even cite Andrew Lloyd Webber as a current example! Though popular in their day, most of these 'music-by-the-yard' composers never achieved any lasting stature once their era has passed.)

Fortunately, this composition is Mozart's tour-de-force and those who wallow through the "Mio caro Adone" presentation are treated to effervescent variations which only Mozart could present ... flashy melodies with dazzling ornaments, and music which is as FRESH TODAY as it must have been back in the late 18th Century, when first performed. If anything, SIX VARIATIONS will demonstrate the eternal nature of Mozart's melodic gifts, and in stark contrast to the boring "court music" which had more to do with politics and intrigue than musical inspiration.

The more you know about Mozart compositions, the higher the pleasure you'll receive from each performance of SIX VARIATIONS. Snapshots of melodic effects which would appear in Marriage of Figaro or Don Giovanni flash by in the listener. Glimpses of harmonic techniques and ornaments from his 'forte-piano' (early keyboard) works are inherent in the music as well.

The ARTCRAFT Roll of SIX VARIATIONS is a total departure from the Aeolian fare for the Duo-Art of the past, most of which "slushed" the music along with broken chords, excessive sustaining pedal and muted expression (with a tinge of "Chopin" to boot!). Here, one imagines the late William Kapell or the living John O'Conor at the keyboard - artists who present Mozart with panache, solo effects and a sense of balance - since the modern pianoforte is a different instrument from the harpsichords and 'forte-pianos' of his day. This roll of SIX VARIATIONS achieves a 'forte-piano' effect, due to rapid manipulation of the Theme-Accompaniment features of the Duo-Art expression system. Not until the final chords of the last variation appear, do the resources of the modern piano get released, and only for a few chords. Clearly, the ARTCRAFT expression roll keeps a foot in both the (ending) 18th and 20th Centuries in its acclaimed Duo-Art performance. SIX VARIATIONS is ideal for showing-off the trills, mordents and solo effects which are the domain of the Aeolian expression system. The better adjusted your Duo-Art system is ... and the requisite treble hammer voicing ... the more vibrant and exciting this roll will be. Whether or not you've seen the play or film of Amadeus, there's no doubt that this keyboard solo was designed to "slice and dice" Signor Salieri, and through the medium of the Interpretive Arranging system developed by ARTCRAFT, it continues to trash his now-forgotten music in our own time. Experience the capricious Mozart with SIX VARIATIONS! (Warning: this ARTCRAFT Roll will make you totally dissatisfied with your historic Duo-Art rolls of Mozart's music ... unless you really enjoy overly sustained 'pseudo-Chopin' interpretations of 18th Century piano pieces!)

THE SMILER RAG - A Special Pianola Arrangement (1907) -Percy Wenrich-

Arranged and Interpreted for The Duo-Art Pianola by L. Douglas Henderson - $23.00

When was the last time you hear really "snappy" Ragtime on your Duo-Art player - beyond having some talented pianist at the keyboard on occasion? If you possess some of the 'Teens releases of this selection, by Aeolian - made under the auspices of Felix Arndt and his fellow musicians - then you should order THE SMILER RAG just to show how well the expression system will operate, when controlled by a genuine Interpretive Arrangement of today. Here's a 'reproducing' roll which presents a breezy, busy and riveting performance ... one so realistic that a listener in an adjacent room could exclaim, "Who's playing your piano?" THE SMILER RAG is yet another ARTCRAFT release which has a sound so 'human' that it's hard to believe that the entire arrangement was created on a Leabarjan perforator, and NOBODY EVER TOUCHED THE KEYBOARD!

Percy Wenrich was - in his day - something of a jack-of-all trades in the music publishing business. His specialty was writing songs of the sentimental variety, but this particular instrumental number stands out for 2 reasons. First, it's good Ragtime ... a syncopated collage of infectious melodies. Second, Mr. Wenrich - who wore the robe of a 'hack' composer at times, especially in the ripoff mail-order market of setting poems to music (by using stock melodies, by his own admission!) - plagiarized Scott Joplin's 3rd (or "C-Theme") from PEACHERINE RAG, then only 5 years old. (He also did it note-for-note in the same key and subtitled the composition: "A Joplin Rag" - possibly a ruse to capitalize, indirectly, upon the name of the composer of MAPLE LEAF RAG ... who knows? No credit to Scott Joplin appears on the cover of the original Wenrich sheet music, which featured a rural Negro boy, "smiling" and prodding-up watermelons through a fence's knot-hole.)

Many music roll companies made 'sheet music transfer' and jerky 'hand-played' rolls of THE SMILER RAG, but it took until 1990 for a toe-tapping arrangement - in the 'vaudeville music' tradition - to be produced ... and the venerable Wenrich number has enjoyed renewed popularity ever since that time! Over 100 copies were sold in the first month of the initial ARTCRAFT promotion, since many Duo-Art owners already knew how effective GOOD RAGTIME would be on their instrument, when the music roll was an Interpretive Arrangement. Beyond the 'walking bass' effects (admittedly lifted from QRS Rolls "played by Pete Wendling") and unexpected glissando passages (influenced by cinéma organist Jesse Crawford 'at the Mighty Wurlitzer') and the broken chords (adapted from Max Kortlander's early music roll arrangements), THE SMILER RAG transcends anything that a human pianist could perform as a piano solo. This is a genuine "Pianola Arrangement" as the roll label states, a Ragtime performance that uses the technical resources of the Player-Piano - and with spectacular results in the Coda! Robin Pratt, an Ohio piano technician and Pianolist, suggested that a rubber stamp be created for the finale which says: "Don't you wish you could play like this?" (Your guests will double-up with laughter when they see this question posed by the roll, while presenting cascades of chromatics and unexpected syncopated accents -- AND all beyond the human pianist's capabilities!)

For those who enjoy a bizarre story which relates to this successful new arrangement of THE SMILER RAG, it might interest the reader to know that The ARTCRAFT Studio was once accused of copying a shorter, plodding and bland 88-Note roll, allegedly "hand-played". [Actually, these are mild words, when compared to what appeared in-print at the time, from both the pianist and the alternative music roll publisher!] While the music was public domain and the ARTCRAFT Roll was beyond the scope of anybody's keyboard performance, a Library of Congress search was requested by Mr. Henderson, the ARTCRAFT Arranger ... just to settle the issue. Of course, no copyright existed and the Studio was informed that "public domain" is public domain, period. Why the publishers of a shorter, thinner-sounding roll - a tepid imitation of the acclaimed Interpretive Arrangement - would have accused ARTCRAFT so vehemently remains one of those musical mysteries. In Mr. Henderson's opinion, the Ragtime pianist who campaigned against this stellar version of THE SMILER RAG could have better spent his time with the works of Czerny. ("Note-grazing" is not one of the features of this virtuoso Duo-Art arrangement FOR PIANOLA only!)

Many readers probably know THE SMILER RAG already, or have heard an old roll of this Ragtime chestnut. (Few people have the "imitation" 88-Note roll described in the paragraph above, since only a handful were sold at the time!) You owe it to yourself to play this new version on your Pianola, for it EXPANDS the horizons of syncopated piano music from the first exhilarating measure. This roll brings "youth" and "life" to your player instrument. Pep up your evening with THE SMILER RAG, a true Pianola Arrangement ... AND with exciting Duo-Art automatic expression! [Link to the 88-Note edition]

SO AM I - Fox Trot "Lady, Be Good!" (1924) -George Gershwin-

Arranged and Interpreted for The Duo-Art Pianola by L. Douglas Henderson - $24.50

Once again ARTCRAFT Music Rolls brings the Gershwin enthusiast something unusual, a perforated music roll which really "sounds like Gershwin" - or at least as much as the Pianola medium allows! SO AM I is a "phrased Fox Trot", a staple of the formula Broadway musicals for which the composer contributed most of his most engaging songs. The roll follows the standards established by the composer in his 1926 English Columbia 78's of "Lady, Be Good" ... a set of audio recordings featuring the original British cast, and with many cuts featuring keyboard performances by Gershwin himself! (Note: the 1926 London edition of the 1924 Broadway musical included several additional numbers written for the occasion, some to showcase Adele Astaire [and her dancing partner Fred].) SO AM I remained in the musical play on both sides of the Atlantic, one of those quasi-romantic chorus-boy-meets-ingenue 'love interest' numbers which were a requisite of 'Teens and 'Twenties stage productions. As such, it has much going for it, especially since some of Gershwin's riffs were adapted from Puccini's MADAME BUTTERFLY ... and the Henderson modern arrangement introduces "'Zez' Confrey" style variations, a homage to KITTEN ON THE KEYS and other novelty numbers which were featured in the same Aeolian Hall program which launched RHAPSODY IN BLUE in 1924. Trick accents, split-second "melody solo" effects and above all, a remarkable simulation of that "Gershwin staccato" permeate this 1990 arrangement of SO AM I, one of the lesser-known songs from "Lady, Be Good!"

Why then, has there been such a fuss ... that is, a publicity campaign about "discovering a 'lost' Gershwin work" ... which surrounds this particular composition? In 1924 The Aeolian Company assigned staff musician Robert Armbruster (a.k.a.Robert Summers, Henri Bergman, etc.) to produce 2 Gershwin rolls for their "classical catalogue": RHAPSODY IN BLUE, Part II and SO AM I. Both were routine FAKE-Gershwin rolls, issued under the Composer's own name as being the pianist (and presumably for the money and publicity the releases would bring). If you have a copy of the 1927 bound Duo-Art Catalogue, look up these 2 rolls, the only ones which appear under Gershwin's photograph and biography. Neither description really describes the Composer's playing, but instead details the musical structure of the compositions. Why? The answer is simple: the rolls were musical frauds, and the composer-pianist was never involved with these 2 commercial arrangements. SO AM I is a typical "Armbruster ballad" and is only a few serial numbers away from JUST A MEMORY by DeSylva-Brown-Henderson, which Aeolian published several YEARS AFTER Gershwin left them for Victor and Columbia Records, Fox Movietone shorts and RCA Transcriptions (for radio broadcasts, two of which were recently discovered). Both SO AM I and JUST A MEMORY feature the same "background-music" expression ... and the same heavy sustaining pedal score combined with limp and unimaginative broken chords. The only difference is that one of the rolls says "played by George Gershwin" on it, as did the equally boring second portion of RHAPSODY IN BLUE. (Part One would appear in the 1927 flyers and the 1930 bound Aeolian catalogue, again marketed with the phony "played by Gershwin" labels on the rolls. Artists' names - after all - sold pianos, and that was the focus of the industry back then.)

In 1990, when the ARTCRAFT version of SO AM I was being created for its début at a player club convention in Cleveland, Ohio ... the Yamaha people were fronting a publicist and pseudo-researcher (called "a Gershwin scholar" no less!), who draped the ornate leaders of Duo-Art rolls over grand piano pin blocks (and herself), claiming to have found "lost Gershwin music". Actually, these same Aeolian FAKE-Gershwin rolls have been in circulation since the 'Twenties, also appearing on a series of LP and Cassette recordings for decades. The reason for the hyped "discoveries" was really twofold: a) to market Disklavier solenoid player instruments with imitations of the FAKE-Gershwin rolls and b) to sell CD's of these Disklavier performances to those in lower economic brackets. Howard Reich, the arts critic of The Chicago Tribune wrote several intelligent articles on the Gershwin "discoveries", all of which debunked the Disklavier claims, also quoting Mr. Henderson's line: "A Musical Disaster!". One critique entitled "It Ain't Necessarily George", the first of the series, really hit the nail on the head concerning these brittle transcriptions of rolls which weren't made by Gershwin in the first place. [Let's face it, the background music rolls of the 'Twenties sound better on a pneumatic Pianola, for which they were originally made!]

Thus, faced with renwed interest in SO AM I - largely due to the false claims being made on behalf of the Disklavier solenoid player - Mr. Henderson accepted an invitation to speak in Ohio, giving a lecture-demonstration entitled "Gershwin: from Audio to GIGO" - "GIGO" being computerese of the time for "garbage IN/garbage OUT". This is when the new 1990 edition of SO AM I was launched, to an enthusastic music roll public. (Two identical seminars were given that day!) The fresh approach to Gershwin's seldom-heard (sort-of) "love song" has captivated a whole new generation of Duo-Art owners... and the roll appears to have no limits to its continuing popularity.

[While most ARTCRAFT Rolls are permanent releases, there was a 2nd SO AM I Duo-Art roll demonstrated in Cleveland that day, one which combined the Robert Armbruster FAKE-Gershwin version with another arrangement made from the flawed edition that was the basis for the Disklavier "discoveries". (When the "lost" arrangement is running at Forte - loud - and the original Aeolian roll is scored for Pianissimo - soft - plus a Soft Pedal also, you know something's wrong!) The 2nd ARTCRAFT roll was a limited edition Duo-Art medleyof SO AM I. It presented back-to-back the original FAKE-Gershwin roll vs. the "scholar's edition" ... the latter having wrong dynamics, erratic tempi and plenty of the clinker-notes! Snapped up by laughing collectors, this special edition SO AM I - combining the boring FAKE-Gershwin performance with the ugly and jagged imitation - is now a collectors' item, and mercifully off-the-market!]

Reward your friends and family with a roll that contains the naïveté and sparkle of "Lady, Be Good! ... when an innocent public enjoyed stock productions which featured good music. If you want the essence of the 'Twenties on your Duo-Art piano, order this Fox Trot roll of SO AM I. If you have the original "played by Gershwin" (Armbruster) ballad roll, it's handy to use for before-and-after demonstrations ... or ... if you don't have the space for chaff, get rid of it! SO AM I by ARTCRAFT fulfills all the essentials for a boy-meets-girl number, and then some! [Link to the 88-Note edition]

SWEET NOTHINGS - Novelette (1928) -Milton J. Rettenberg-

Arranged and Interpreted for The Duo-Art Pianola by L. Douglas Henderson - $23.00

All the credit for this roll being 'realized' goes to Eric Bernhoft - a music roll arranger (and long-distance bicyclist) who resides in San Francisco. During the Summer of 1986, Eric visited The ARTCRAFT Studio ... perforated his own music rolls on the Model #5 Leabarjan machinery ... and made many trips around the rural Maine countryside. On one of his excursions to Northern Maine he returned to Wiscasset, armed with a stack of vintage sheet music - purchased in second-hand shops - and among the titles was SWEET NOTHINGS, a MODERNE 'Art Deco' piano solo. "This is by Rettenberg!" exclaimed Eric, as if everybody knew who the composer was.

Eric and his pianist friend Peter Mintun are avid record collectors, so were familiar with Mr. Rettenberg's place in American music of the 'Twenties. The Composer - then still living in his 90's - was in touch with them, telling Peter at one point that the title was written for conversations he had with his wife. Later, in the Edward Jablonski books on George Gershwin, other footnotes about Rettenberg surfaced, among them the fact that he "filled-in" for Gershwin - as a pianist - on some of Paul Whiteman's concert tours - soon after RHAPSODY IN BLUE had been presented at the famous 1924 Aeolian Hall début. With the Depression looming and the music business in turmoil, Mr. Rettenberg decided to change occupations and eventually became a successful lawyer. However, his roots were in that music group which combined Ferde Grofé, 'Zez' Confrey, Rube Bloom, Roy Bargy, Dana Suesse and, of course, George Gerswhin. The ARTCRAFT Studio released SWEET NOTHINGS in 2 'reproducing' piano formats in 1987, one for Duo-Art and another for the Ampico expression player. How The American Piano Company "skipped over" this unusual piano solo, during its hey-day, mystifies those familiar with their roll library. Here is a number which is the QUINTESSENTIAL 'Twenties "Manhattan sophistication" style of music ... the typical fare for the Ampico player actions of the day. The ARTCRAFT release, being an Interpretive Arrangement, elevates the musical performance beyond the standards of the old player roll factories, however ... since 128th-note "striking" details are inherent in the contemporary edition. What would have perforated into boring clusters of 'homogeneous' notes on an old Ampico or Duo-Art roll has been transformed into sparkling, capricious musical passages, for today's more discerning ears. No 'Twenties roll of SWEET NOTHINGS has been found, to date, so in all likelihood, this ARTCRAFT version probably represents the first time that the piece has been offered in the perforated music medium. (Shortly after SWEET NOTHINGS became a new player roll, Eric sent the Studio a tape featuring a 'jazz ensemble' playing the piece, showing that it did appear as a 78 r.p.m. record in the late 'Twenties!)

What will SWEET NOTHINGS bring to your piano? Subtlety and expressive refinement, enveloped in "art deco" chord progressions which mirror many of the Grofé tonalities of the period. The better your Duo-Art valves are adjusted, and the softer your piano's treble hammers are voiced [as they should be for ALL pneumatic players], the more accents-within-accdents you'll experience! A tripping staccato riff is the signature for the "A" theme, and this sets the stage for an imaginative array of 'controlled effects' in the Mezzo-Piano (M.P.) and Mezzzo-Forte (M.F.) range ... which is primary spectrum for this Manhattan-style piano solo. Surprises of an ingenious and crafty sort were woven into the texture of this Interpretive Arrangement: one time a Soft Pedal (hammer rail lift) provides an unexpected diminuendo in the Trio ... but when the effect is repeated, the Duo-Art accomplishes this feat solely by way of a rapid VACUUM 'drop'! In typical ARTCRAFT fashion, there's a complex variation of the primary theme for the conclusion, but though seemingly-human in effect, it's another of those Pianola achievements which transcend keyboard abilities. (This kind of variation grows out of the original piano solo material, following its presentation.) Naturally, the ARTCRAFT Roll contains the elegant - and subtle - phrasing which astute Pianola listeners have come to expect for this style of music.

If you possess Grofé's gem, MISS MISCHIEF (described above), or Max Morath's ONE FOR NORMA (ditto), then these words should give you a vivid concept of what to expect when demonstrating SWEET NOTHINGS for your Player-Piano friends. If you aren't familiar with the distinctive but short-lived 'Art Deco' era of New York piano music, here's a good place to begin your excursion. And, if you become really immersed in texts surrounding the era of George Gershwin, be certain to look for the name "Rettenberg" in the footnotes! His contributions made no tidal waves, but he was part of the creative musical activity in what one might also call 'The Penthouse Era'.

This text began with Eric Bernhoft, who brought Milton J. Rettenberg to the attention of The ARTCRAFT Studio. Eric went on to produce a stellar collection of music roll offerings under his trade-name UPRIGHT & GRAND Rolls - which are still available at this writing. Currently, he has turned his attentions to the research and presentation of antique lantern slides - plus more 'cycling! - and sold his Leabarjan Model #5 perforator to the ARTCRAFT Studio. In the Fall of '97, a cross-country automobile trip was made, which brought the antique machinery to Maine ... augmenting the versatility of Leabarjan activities with the addition of a third perforator. (Note: if you are going to purchase a Leabarjan at some future time, take Mr. Henderson's advice: "Don't ship it!" In their old-age, these 1911-1928 perforators, constructed of second-quality cast iron, have a poor record in crated-up transit. As the old Packard automobile advertising once said, "Ask The Man Who Owns One" ... just substitute the words "Leabarjan owner" and "shipped" into the familiar slogan! ARTCRAFT offers this free advice willingly, knowing what happens to most of these rare machines in contemporary parcel-transit circumstances!)

SWEET NOTHINGS is a gentle roll, existing for those who "listen" to the music, and who - by doing so - will discover a wealth of clever melodic inventions, all gift-wrapped in the Musical Cellophane™ of a bygone time. [Link to the Ampico editon]

THE THIRD MAN Theme - Variations-Anton Karas-

Arranged and Interpreted for The Duo-Art Pianola by L. Douglas Henderson - $24.50

If only one ARTCRAFT expression roll were to be singled-out and labeled as a CONTINUOUS "best-seller", THE THIRD MAN Theme for the Duo-Art would be one of the top contenders. Few music rolls have enjoyed such constant popularity among collectors. THE THIRD MAN Theme has - as an Interpretive Arrangement for the 'reproducing' piano - experienced no sales peaks or fluctuating demand. In short, the player roll - just like the celebrated 1949 motion picture which originally presented the melody - "has not worn-out its welcome!" (Few cinéma scores can make that claim!)

As most everyone already knows, the David O. Selznick film about postwar Austria, starred Josphen Cotton (the [slightly-stupid] good guy), Alida Valli (the mysterious woman), Trevor Howard (the British cynic and narrator) and an indelible performance by Orson Welles ... as "Harry Lime", the blackmarket villain. (Welles was only on the screen for a few minutes, but the musical theme - plus the repeated mention of his character's name in the dialogue - gave the impression that he was 'present' at all times in what was really a cameo role!) A captivating 'amplified' zither music soundtrack by Anton Karas was, in a major way, the prime vehicle for keeping the focus on Orson Welles throughout the 104-minute movie.

The piano is not a zither, of course ... not even the 'amplified' one used by Karas for the film and the London/Decca 'ffrr' 78's of the period, which were - like this ARTCRAFT Roll - "best-sellers" in their time! Once again the Pianola demonstrates that it can transform the piano action into something unique, not a zither imitation, but an effervescent array of technical effects which convey the "spirit" of the original music. This transition is achieved through dual means: first, the use of many piano keys in the midst of the simple syncopated melody (for a surprise effect); second, a variety of tempi, accomplished by unusual steppings, such as 7 and 11 punches/beat, a departure from the 'confining' 6 or 8 punches/beat, used by music roll factories in order to simplify the arranging process. Thus, THE THIRD MAN 'whaps' the listener with gigantic staccato "crash" (sFz) chords, while the Themodist (solo) system tracks the Karas melody in the Mezzo-Forte (M.F.) range; this is musically-similar to the amplified instrument used for the film's soundtrack, a zither modification which outraged some musical instrument purists at the time. Next, THE THIRD MAN presents a variety of Pianola variations, ending with a trick Coda, a parody of "the-musical-box-runs-down" effect - followed by the final chords in fortissimo staccato. (This final variation is what Mr. Henderson calls "Fairchilding", i.e. a simulation of Milton Susskind [a.k.a. Edgar Fairchild] on myriad Ampico arrangements, a "wheezy" nod to that excessive sostenuto, the limp dynamics and the 'arty' phrasing which come in-between the MUSIC and the LISTENER on his recognizable 'reproducing' rolls.) Finally, a series of LOUD octaves and the subsequent sign-off says, in effect, "Hey, we're just kidding! This is not a hammy Milton/Edgar roll after all!" There's a final fortissimo 'punch chord' and the rewind kicks-in, concluding another memorable ARTCRAFT release. [The 3 M's dominated the 'Twenties Ampico library with a sound that wasn't like a pianist, but was more akin to dreamy organ-playing on pianoforte keys. Who were the 3 M's who churned out the music, often under a galaxy of pseuodnyms? Click here for details.]

THE THIRD MAN has been presented on many European Pianola concerts ... and even included in a French CD Set featuring the new 'console' Duo-Art player built by M. Douglas Heffer -- and recorded on a concert S&S grand piano in the former Pathé Studios, no less! Here in the States, the amusing roll has been performed on CBS Television as well as on radio programmes (of rolls) on the West Coast. No worthy Duo-Art collection is complete without this superlative music roll, since it appeals to everyone who hears it! (Many owners of this roll report that their guests usually ask for an immediate SECOND playing, in order to absorb all the musical detail which had whisked past them during the first performance!)

THREE PRELUDES for PIANO (1926) -George Gershwin-

Arranged and Interpreted for The Duo-Art Pianola by L. Douglas Henderson - $26.00

The most acclaimed music roll in history - to date - is this ground-breaking arrangement of George Gershwin's piano solo masterpiece: THREE PRELUDES for PIANO. Not only was ARTCRAFT 'the first' to make this set of three pieces available for Pianola enthusiasts ... but ... the arrangement was the FIRST MUSIC ROLL EVER RELEASED WHICH "REALLY SOUNDS LIKE GERSHWIN AT THE KEYBOARD"!

The realism embodied in THREE PRELUDES is no accident, for Mr. Henderson has been drawing upon the analysis of audio recordings since the early 'Fifties, realizing that the major flaw in commercial rolls was their adherence to sheet music notation standards - and/or the imposition of them upon rolls using keyboard playing as the 'source' material. The "played by Gershwin" rolls have been dismissed by musical experts for decades, being - essentially - musical frauds designed to please a naïve public in the 'Twenties. Until this music roll trailblazed a new era of perforated Gershwin music, Player-Piano owners had to be content with background music, formula rolls ... all of which lacked what the Composer called "a musical cackle". This meant, in his own words (published in 1931), a wild abandon with the score: broad dynamic swings, precise/clipped staccato and very little sustaining pedal. Those who've waded through the plodding Perfection, Universal/Mel-O-Dee (Aeolian) and Duo-Art rolls of the past know what a disappointment any historic "played by Gershwin" roll will be! The source for Gershwin ENJOYMENT is - as it always has beeen - in the realm of his audio recordings. George Gershwin and his interpreter-apparent Oscar Levant both left us with accurate Victor and Columbia recordings that have preserved the original performance style - something that's absolutely essential when presenting complex music which requires a striking and dynamic 'attitude' on the part of the keyboard pianist. The music roll yields nothing "Gershwinesque" unless the perforations reflect key depression times honed-down to 128th-of-a-note lengths. These - and more arranging refinements - are the characteristics of THREE PRELUDES, a roll which has been considered to be a supreme achievement ever since its release over 15 years ago.

The Columbia piano solo recordings by Oscar Levant were used for this set of three compositions. Many musicians, upon hearing this Duo-Art medley and unaware of the audio "source" for the arrangement, have remarked, "That Third Prélude sounds like as if Oscar Levant had performed it!" - a testament to the musical accomplishments of modern Interpretive Arranging! All 3 préludes reflect the accenting and keyboard attack of the 'Twenties, and from another room it would be difficult to discern the Duo-Art expression player from a virtuoso with the talents of Messrs. Levant or Gershwin!

As with many types of music, the pneumatic player action is often able to IMPROVE upon an effect originally written for the keyboard artist. The Second Prélude - the slow "blues" number - uses sostenuto effects in the bass register without the requiring much sustaining pedal, the latter a sluggish device at best on Pianolas. Thus, the rendition captures all the accented melody lines - crossing over the piano scale division - through the 'magic' of the Aeolian Themodist ... while the precise bass rhythm is maintained in a cool, dry and scholarly manner - a performance effect which transcends the efforts of the most skilled pianist.

Little else needs to be said about THREE PRELUDES, for at any particular moment someone is performing this roll somewhere on the planet: in Leipzig, in Perth, in Prague, in Vienna, or Santa Fe, Boulder and Montréal on these shores. If you are a Gershwin fan, and possess only the FAKE rolls "made-in-his-name" from the past, you are doing your Pianola listeners a musical disservice (and also commiting an aesthetic 'sin' at the same time!). THREE PRELUDES by ARTCRAFT should be a part of every music roll library!

TICO-TICO - Brazilian Dance -Z. Abreu-

Arranged and Interpreted for The Duo-Art Pianola by L. Douglas Henderson - $24.00

Here's a "musical fiesta" of Latin American music! First introduced in the States by Hammond Organ virutoso Ethel Smith - star of radio, 78 r.p.m. recordings and M-G-M musicals (featuring Esther Williams) - TICO-TICO has been given a refreshing revival through the medium of ARTCRAFT Music Rolls. The popular instrumental number, named for a Brazilian jungle bird's call, became the essence of radio music during that period of the Rhumba, Samba and the Conga Line. (Seems like "yesterday" for that pre-rock era, doesn't it? - When melody prevailed and the vocalists were on-key!)

TICO-TICO gets the "full" Interpretive Arranging bag of tricks with this roll: unexpected tempo changes, pronounced Latin-rhythm chords, pianissimo staccato variations and a finale that literally makes one think of a South American carnival spectacle. Due to the musical variations addressing the scope of the Pianola - instead of attempting to imitate a keyboard pianist - the sky's the limit in what TICO-TICO will accomplish, as an expressive 'reproducing' roll! Just when you think you've heard everything, something else begins.

Herbert Lindahl, the Connecticut piano technician who has taken a Steinway Duo-Art grand piano on tours to industry (PTG) conventions - even to Orlando, Florida! - discovered ARTCRAFT Roll superiority with this particular arrangement, and so will you - if this hot little number isn't already in your Duo-Art collection.

The ARTCRAFT rendition of TICO-TICO is the perfect antidote to those "weepy-waily" contemporary numbers in this, our MTV era (the Middle Ages of popular music). If you are reeling from a visit to the local shopping Mall, where irritating, formless music dribbles down on you from ubiquitous public address systems, put yourself back together with a performance of TICO-TICO for the Duo-Art player. All thoughts of that 'death-bed' screaming music will be swept away with visions of castanets, colourful costumes, nocturnal fireworks - or whatever constitutes your vision of a Brazilian celebration! Keep a copy of TICO-TICO on hand for your musical pleasure ... and also for retaining your sanity. This fiery expression roll commands everybody's attention whenever it gets played. [Link to the 88-Note edition]

VIGNETTE - A Piano Novelty [Dedicated to Douglas Henderson] (1989) -Wally Rose-

Arranged and Interpeted for The Duo-Art Pianola by L. Douglas Henderson - $25.00

When the average person experiences this delightful composition - which has never been published on sheet music or captured on a pianist's recording - the immediate reaction is: "The 1920's!" Actually, VIGNETTE is a recent work, but admittedly pays homage to the graceful Novelettes of the period, such as POLLY, FLAPPERETTE and SPARKLETS. However, someone who is really familiar with the genre will immediately notice that "something's different here" - at least when the Trio commences. Put simply, VIGNETTE combines the elements of "genteel" pieces - "for the toe dancer's entrance", as the Composer said on one occasion - with the fierce and percussive facets of the Pianola's inherent technical power. The Trio of VIGNETTE is fashioned from the "rougher" versions of the piano novelty spectrum, especially those of Roy Bargy, whose RUFF 'N REDDY is a good example ... or the "blues-crush" riffs that Confrey used so effectively in KITTEN ON THE KEYS. Not until VIGNETTE was composed, did such contrasting examples appear side-by-side in a single number, but - since this was an original composition - there was a REASON for this duplicity of musical styles....

Wally Rose wanted to write something which combined pianistic skills with the brutish nature of the pneumatic player piano action. The "A" and "B" themes were to be fashioned from his own playing abilities at the time ... and the "C" (Trio) contrasting melody - which, on this ARTCRAFT Roll, contains some loud-and-tricky syncopations - was supposed to represent the Pianola portion of the performance. VIGNETTE concludes with a return to the keyboard music, featuring a seemingly-human phrased fade-out, in keeping with the title's suggestion.

At this point there should be a few lines about the phenomenal career of Wally Rose, a personal friend of Mr. Henderson for approximately 50 years. Wally - born Walter Lewis Rosa, of Portuguese ancestory - almost singlehandedly started what is now called the "Classic Ragtime" revival. As a pianist with the legendary Lu Watters' Yerba Buena Jazz Band, from 1939-1955, he produced some of the first Ragtime piano solo recordings since the 'Teens, bringing to light the music of James Scott, Scott Joplin and Paul Pratt in a non-novelty performance style - yet typically his own. Even at as the years advancd, he appeared at the Sedalia, Missouri Ragtime Festivals, and his keyboard technique was still bouncy and distinctive. (Listening to Wally play Ragtime - or Chopin - ruined any serious listener for "note clusters" at the same dynamic, especially through the medium of commercial music rolls ... which dished out cascades of IDENTICAL LENGTH perforations, the essence of true 'background music'!)

While basically an acclaimed performer, Wally also wrote music for specific friends on occasion. Some have been performed by Robbie Rhodes, but most of them are - to this day - lost to history, since he composed on "lead sheets" (single melody lines) and the rest of the piece remained in his head. With his passing in 1997, it's unlikely that Wally's other compositions, such as FIRST STEP One-Step and THE WEDDING Cakewalk will ever appear in sheet music form. He did compose a number for Player-Piano roll collector Ed Sprankle, called ED'S ECHOES - named for the Sprankle roll business, and this selection was produced for 88-Note player instruments under the trade-name "Echoes Rolls".

VIGNETTE was written for ARTCRAFT Rolls, and especially for the Duo-Art expression player instruments. The Arranger had the benefit of tape/telephone 'proofs' with the Composer, during the arranging process. When a passage was ready, a call was made to Walnut Creek, California, and Wally would say, "The accents are perfect in that portion, but ... the pauses and the tempo should be tightned up." This meant getting out the custom-built SPLICER, which can add/remove perforated music roll strips down to a 32nd-note accuracy; if more precision is required, then a whole section can be cut-out and new material spliced-in ... at the end of a long phrase. (No, dear Reader, this activity isn't "fun" - but it does give the Arranger the opportunity to create a rubato performance which is completely as the Composer had intended. There is only so much information on a notation score, no matter how complete it might be.) When the Master Roll sounded the way the Composer wished - giving ARTCRAFT complete freedom to "break loose" for the Trio in the middle - VIGNETTE was rushed to a duplicating plant in California, since both the music roll AND the Composer's keyboard début of the piece - on the concert stage - were to be introduced at the Joplin Festival in 1990 - and they were!

For those who wish to hear "what started' the international interest in Joseph Lamb, Scott Joplin and the other Composers, we urge you to sample some of the Good Time Jazz™ recordings, with the Yerba Buena Band. (In order to prevent construction of a nuclear plant near his home in Bodega Bay, Calif., Watters came out of retirement in the 'Sixties and made a final recording - again with Wally holding the ensemble together with his spectacular playing abilities.) Later in life, the Wally made several piano solo recordings, some featuring his own compositions. VIGNETTE was his last original piece, a number which combined - at his wishes - the Player-Piano (which he always enjoyed) with keyboard acrobatics.

If you listen closely to this roll, especially in the descending "novelette" figurations which open and close the selection, there are MINUTE DIFFERENCES with each reprise of the music. This is Interpretive Arranging at work! A ¼-perforation switch in the "beat" constitutes the major performance change in the "A" theme. If you want to see how "musically aware" your friends are, spring VIGNETTE on them and ask, afterwards, if they noticed something 'unusual' about the treble melody. These minute perforating decisions are what make VIGNETTE sound so human, so much like a live pianist (save the wild Pianola section in the middle). VIGNETTE also preserves a bit of the artist that Wally was, continuing to fascinate and entertain all who experience his distinctive 'Twenties-like composition. [Link to the 88-Note edition]

THE WRONG RAG (1987) -Glenn Jenks-

Arranged and Interpreted for The Duo-Art Pianola by L. Douglas Henderson - $23.50

This complicated Ragtime number requires sterling technique on the part of the pianist, and - in fact - the piece was written to see if it would "trip up" a fellow musician, who had the ability to play any score on first sight. (According to Maine Composer Glenn Jenks, the pianist - now deceased - got through the intricacies of THE WRONG RAG on the first reading, a triumph for handling 'cold' sheet music!)

THE WRONG RAG represents another collaboration between a Composer and The ARTCRAFT Studio, and - like so many other perforated Interpretive Arrangements of this kind - the roll was created at the artist's suggestion. If you like fast, attention-getting keyboard music, loaded with surprise accents and crafty rhythms, here's the roll for you! This arrangement provides the listener with a performance of the original keyboard piano solo, alternating with contrasting "Pianola variations" - all contrived to spring from the striking effects and melodic inventions established by Jenks' imaginative composition. The finale is nothing short of thrilling, combining all the accenting resources of the Duo-Art player with the chromatic whirlwind effects presented in a "two-handed" fashion shortly before. While the extremes of the piano scale - bass and treble - present the finest syncopated material, the centre of the keyboard offsets the riveting melody with out-of-kilter "crash" chords: sforzando piano tricks of the flashiest order. This is a "staccato" type of number, and was cut with the elements of Glenn Jenks' own keyboard playing in mind, even for the portions which defy a pianist's simulation. Devotees of classical music, Ragtime ... and anyone who enjoys a sparkling performance all gravitate to THE WRONG RAG - a sizzling 'reproducing' music roll!

Glenn Jenks lives in Camden, Maine and is what one might call "The Compleat Entertainer", since his talents span that of an accomplished pianist, an acclaimed Composer (including original music for string quartettes!), an engaging Master of Ceremonies on the stage, a banjo player - and an expert in the art of growing historic strains of roses! The Jenks "wit" shines through THE WRONG RAG, from start to finish. (If you listen closely enough, you might even detect a snippet from Rodgers & Hammerstein's Oklahoma in one of the themes. Honest!)

The music roll has been presented with great success on a number of concert programmes. The Arcady Festival (Bar Harbor/Bangor, Maine) and The Niantic Ragtime Festival (CT) are but two of the occasions where THE WRONG RAG held audiences spellbound. Robin Pratt, a piano technician and Pianolist in Sandusky, Ohio, has performed this ARTCRAFT release on many occasions ... and reports from Europe indicate that THE WRONG RAG has achieved a growing popularity abroad as well! As with Kevin Sanders' RAGGED EDGES (described above), THE WRONG RAG sells equally in both the Duo-Art 'reproducing' roll format and in the standard 88-Note edition - indicating almost universal appeal.

Enliven your home musicale with Glenn Jenks' Ragtime delight, THE WRONG RAG! [Link to the 88-Note edition]

Y A D'LA JOIE (There's The Joy) (1939) -Charles Trenet-

Arranged and Interpreted for The Duo-Art Pianola by L. Douglas Henderson - $19.50

Charles Trenet, the "last" of the French MUSIC HALL singers, had just begun his farewell tour and was appearing in Québec when Douglas Heffer - the ARTCRAFT representative in Paris - suggested the creation of this particular roll. Originally written for the legendary Maurice Chevalier, the song was recorded by Trenet himself ... and became one of his signature tunes.

[Lest the "French slang" put you off - in trying to pronounce this odd title - try saying "Yad La Zwah" (which looks terrible in phonetics ... but which approximates the words as sung by Trenet!)]

This is one of those "footloose-in-Paris" songs, a theme which Gershwin touched upon 11 years earlier with AN AMERICAN IN PARIS. The song is a tripping, flitting celebration to 'love' in the midst of a bustling city. Even without knowing the words - about a young man who's happy with "everything" - visions of the Can-Can, the traffic, the avenues of quaint little shops (some mentioned in the lyrics) and other things-Parisian will come to mind when you play Y A D'LA JOIE on your Duo-Art instrument.

The roll is faithful of the original Trenet recording, right down to where his voice "cracks" in the finale (signified by a slightly weird tremolo effect!). Staccato 'French' rhythms and snappy bass solos are but two features of the unique Interpretive Arrangement. We recommend this 'jewel' of a roll for the encore on your next Duo-Art musical evening; it's the fitting complement to any programme ... and Y A D'LA JOIE is certain to send your guests away humming and smiling. (As Ira Gershwin said in his song lyric, "Who could ask for anything more?")

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