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Player Piano Rolls

 Collection
Identifier: FSUML-2020-028

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of 63 player piano rolls from the early 20th century. The collection includes works by Chopin, Debussy, Gilbert & Sullivan, Dvorak, Handel, and other composers.

Dates

  • 1915-1930

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to all researchers. Users may access this collection by making an appointment with the Allen Music Library Head Librarian.

Biographical / Historical

The concept of the player piano—a piano which uses a stream of perforated paper to play music automatically—dates from the late nineteenth century. Early versions provided only for notes, and relied upon a human operator using foot-pumping motion for power and to set an even tempo. In the first decade of the twentieth century, a system was developed which allowed for tempo and dynamics to be included. These so-called "Reproducing Piano Rolls," which captured many of the nuances of the pianist, were among the first opportunities for pianists to leave a record of their performances. From roughly 1915 to 1930, the piano roll enjoyed it's greatest popularity.

In the first decade of the twentieth century, a system was developed which allowed for tempo and dynamics to be included. These so-called "Reproducing Piano Rolls," which captured many of the nuances of the pianist, were among the first opportunities for pianists to leave a record of their performances. From roughly 1915 to 1930, the piano roll enjoyed it's greatest popularity. The library houses a small collection of piano rolls from this era, including performances by Paderewski, Grainger and Artur Rubenstein.

Extent

63 items (Piano rolls)

Language of Materials

English

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

There were several companies which manufactured Reproducing Piano Rolls. Of the library's collection, five rolls use the Ampico system; the rest are manufactured by Duo-Art (Aeolian Company). The condition of the rolls varies from item to item. The paper is at least seventy years old, and is showing signs of aging. Several of the rolls will need repair before they can be played.

The library does not own equipment for playback of these rolls. Arrangements may be made for patrons who wish to use the rolls on outside equipment. Patrons seeking equipment to use the rolls should be aware that the Duo-Art and Ampico systems are incompatible with one another.
Title
Player Piano Rolls
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Repository Details

Part of the Allen Music Library Special Collections Repository

Contact:
FSU College of Music
122 N. Copeland St.
Tallahassee FL 32306
850-644-5028
850-644-3982 (Fax)