From: email@example.com (Tom Jacobs)(fwd)
Date: Sat, 15 Feb 2003 21:39:37 -0800
Subject: Grandmother's Steinway Grand Duo-Ar
I am writing about my Duo-Art piano being played by digital rollsstored
on a laptop computer. The saga of my Duo-Art will follow thisstory
of latest improvement in my machine. I have come to love theDuo-Art
and piano music in general. (I went to see Lang Lang playRachmaninoff's
Piano Concerto No. 2 with the San Francisco Symphonya couple of
weeks ago. Wow!)
A real problem has been the rolls. Finding them, storing them,maintaining
the condition of them (sitting like a worried mother overmy Gershwin
rolls as they rewind), and getting up to change them.These problems
no longer exist for me since Spencer Chase installedhis eroll
system in my piano.
Now let me first say that I am a condition freak. I collect books
andVictorian antiques and love everything to be original. I don't
likemy kerosene lamps wired. I don't like Phillips head screws
in my 1891door hinges. I did not want in any way to mar my piano
or havesomething obviously new replacing old original parts.
Other than a laptop computer that I can hide, my piano is 1927original.
The operating end is a series of little electric valves allof
which sit on top of a two-inch piece of cherry wood hidden up
behindthe foot pedals. They are controlled by the computer and
connected tomy tubing so that they may control the piano as if
a roll were playing.
Now I have nearly 2000 rolls at my fingertips and they will playcontinuously
(the only limitation is the motor heating up aftercontinuous playing).
No tracking errors, just perfect playing. Thescreen displays a
simulated tracker bar during playing and you canwatch the electronic
perforations scroll across the screen as it plays.It also displays
the technical information such as sustain, vacuumlevels, and levels
in the theme and accompaniment. If you love yourDuo-Art this is
a 'must have'. Ask Spencer the technical questions.You can contact
him at <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Now the story of my piano. About 1927 my great-grandmother had
themoney and good taste to buy a Steinway grand Duo-Art from Sherman
andClay in San Francisco. It is a beautiful mission style made
withgorgeous grained wood. The piano passed into the hands of
my grandmotherin the late 1940's and sat in her living room for
50 years. I rememberher demonstrating the player for me in the
1950's when I was a childbut as years went on the player stopped
My grandmother was fond of playing the piano and used the pianoconventionally.
About 1970 she had a tuner come to tune the piano.He asked to
buy it and when she said no he proceeded to tell her hecould make
the piano sound better if he took out the old player parts.My
grandmother was a great lady but had no appreciation for the manybeautiful
things she inherited. She allowed him to gut the piano andwas
going to give him the parts.
During the disemboweling she happened to call my mother and tell
herwhat was happening and asked if she should give the parts to
the tuner.By a stroke of luck I happened to be at home and when
presented withthe question told her to have the parts put in the
basement. Therethey sat for 25 years in a pile.
Meanwhile I became a dentist and came to live in the house. One
ofmy patients has an upright Steinway Duo-Art and somehow we got
on thesubject. He told me he could probably put the piano back
together andover the next year did just that, carefully restoring
the pneumaticsand putting everything in the right place without
any sort of plans.He should have been a dentist with the precision
work he did.
One day I came home from the office and there was a note on the
pianowith instructions and a roll already mounted. I flicked the
switchesand the piano fired up. It brought tears to my eyes. After
the manyyears and near destruction, it was playing again. I called
mygrandmother who was living outside the house and had the piano
playingin the background. I asked her if she knew what was playing
and shesaid she didn't know the song! I told her that it was the
player,playing again. I was so happy to have her live long enough
to hearthe piano again.
As the caretaker of the Duo-Art I continued to improve the machine.I
recently had the action rebuilt and the 1927 strings replaced.It
is magnificent! The piano sparkles and with the computer playingit,
it is a real joy to own.
San Rafael, California
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