21 August 2012

The "Photoplayer" is an awesome instrument

From Huell Howser productions, this video shows Joe Rinaudo performing on a restored 1926 Photoplayer.
The central instruments in a photoplayer were a piano and percussion; some machines also added pipe organs and methods for manually creating sound effects. Like a player piano, the photoplayer played music automatically by reading piano rolls (rolls of paper with perforations), but the photoplayer could hold two rolls: one that would play while the other was prepared. Common sound effects included gun-shots, bells and drums, which were generated by pulling chains called "cow-tails". A photoplayer operator had to load the paper rolls, start the machine and add the manual sound effects and percussion using the cow-tails.

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