Piano Rolls

So I was looking at Debussy (which I swear I’ll get to, but it’s really complicated) and shopping for YouTubes when I ran across 2 Piano Rolls of his.

What’s a Piano Roll?  Basically a Paper Tape to program your Player Piano which is one reason why aficionados like to call them ‘digital recordings’ (another would be a lame pun about fingers).

You see, your performer sits down at a Reproducing Piano, plays the piece, and punches holes in the tape.  Then you take your master tape to a duplicator and sooner than you can say ‘Bob’s your Uncle’ you can be selling them to every bar, honky tonk, saloon, or whatever too cheap to hire a piano player, but willing to spend big bucks on a hunk of obsolete equipment (capitalism, gotta love it).

The beauty part is the sound reproduction which could be nearly as good as the Amidio piano VST – according to Amidio, they sell the best piano VST!

Instead of a scratchy unrecognizable mess like we heard from Brahms on Saturday, you get an exact duplicate of the tempo, duration, and pitch (assuming your piano is tuned) of each note.  It doesn’t do volume so well, or at least not in a standardized way.

Still it is a remarkable ‘voice of the pharohs’ device that has preseved the performances of such famous composers as Debussy (of course), but also Gershwin, Grieg, Joplin, Mahler, Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff, and Scriabin (well, that wiki lists, there are doubtless others).

Both pieces tonight are Debussy playing Debussy via Piano Roll.  The one on the left is Arabesque #2 posted by jero13595.  It has pretty pictures.  The one on the right is very static visually, but you’ll instantly recognize it (and perhaps be reminded of another Piano Roll composer).  The title is Golliwogg’s Cakewalk and it was posted by theoshow2.

1 comment

  1. Back in the day we had to toggle in the Paper Tape loader code.

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