Pianos were developed around the turn of the century (1900) and
Reproducing Pianos were developed a short time later. Whereas
Player Pianos play only the note information from the roll and
leave the interpretation of dynamics and other aspects of expression
to the user, the more advanced Reproducing Pianos control these
additional aspects of the musical performance by special coding
techniques. Three companies were responsible for the majority
of Reproducing Pianos manufactured and for the music rolls for
each of their systems. These systems were Welte Mignon, Ampico
(American Piano Company) and Duo-Art (Aeolian.)
libraries of rolls were produced by these companies over a period
of approximately 30 years. Popular music of the day and much of
the classical repertoire was recorded. Today these rolls are becoming
rare as most were destroyed when the pianos to play them no longer
functioned. The remaining rolls are often in frail condition due
to the effects of acid laden paper, humidity and time.
a collector of these pianos and rolls, I began to become seriously
concerned, several years ago. The prices of rolls began to climb
as their condition continued to deteriorate. I decided to make
an attempt to apply modern digital techniques to the recording
of the information on these rolls so as to preserve the performances
for myself and future collectors. It was my intention to produce
copies of these rolls on paper. I made several attempts to develop
optical scanning systems to capture the roll data but was unable
to do so on my own within my limited budget. Through the Mechanical
Musical Digest (MMD) I met Richard Stibbons of Cromer in the UK.
He had been working on a similar project for a few years, and
had developed a hardware method that seemed too simple to work.
He had also developed a software system for decoding the roll
images and producing MIDI files. About the same time the PowerRoll
interface for Pneumatic pianos was introduced and additional motivation
for developing the system therefore existed. My minor hobby interest
rapidly developed into a much greater consumer of my time. Since
that time, Richard and I have worked together to produce a very
accurate and reliable system. Richard has concentrated his efforts
on the programming and I have concentrated on the mechanical aspects
as well as making improvements to the electronics and various
other aspects of the system.
a collector of Duo-Art Pianos and rolls, I have concentrated my
efforts on preserving this library of music. I have produced CDs
of both Popular and Classical in MIDI format and in BARR/ANN format
for use with Richard Brandle's WindPlay program. Please see the
links to the listings of the titles included on these CDs and
the information for ordering. I am interested in scanning the
worthy rolls from other collections that I do not have in my collection.
In addition, I have begun scanning Welte rolls since I now have
the ability to play these also. I would be interested in hearing
from other collectors who are willing to contribute to this effort.
Recent improvements in scanning methods have allowed me to expand
my library of Electronic Rolls (E-Rolls) to include the three
major Reproducing formats. Duo-Art, Welte and Ampico E-Rolls are
now available. Check out the To Order page to see what is available.
Don't miss the New New New page for the latest additions.
years of development and testing, the E-Roll Player Midi Valve
system was produced and sold. It has now been in production for
over 7 years and has proven to be accurate in reproduction and
very reliable. Recent economic conditions and waning interest in reproducing pianos has forced me to discontinue manufacture of the E-Roll Player. Support and repair is still available for owners of all models of E-Roll Players.
My latest emphasis is the creation of files for the Live Performance LX reproducing system. The LX is a retrofit system that can be fitted to most grand pianos and outperforms all other retrofit systems. Click here for the LX Music Page of Ampico and Welte (Licensee) files available.