When we purchased our player piano, it came with 170+ player rolls – some dating back to the ‘teens’ of the 1900s.
If you’ve never seen one of said rolls, they’re quite interesting. They look like the old-time official perforated cards that the government used to send out. Yes, I’m that old . . .
The piano generates suction, which pulls the roll in. Then these holes allow the suction to break in very specific places, causing the corresponding note to play. Yeah, it makes no sense to me, either. And it has been explained and explained. Look! A squirrel!
All I know – or care – is that when you insert the roll in a certain way, flip this lever, and pump the pedals, music emerges.
Music that no human being – unless he is equipped with four hands and/or thirty fingers – could play.
An aside here – Husby and I, while in Buffalo, New York, visited the last of the piano roll makers, QRS. And actually watched one of their musicians play out a new roll. And I use the world ‘play’ deliberately. He was seated at a large apparatus that vaguely resembled a piano. On steroids. It was hooked by numerous appendages to another apparatus that was marking a long strip of paper.
The whole process was fascinating. And busy enough to keep even my attention.
Back to my story . . .
As I mentioned, our piano has to be pumped to work. So, you have to work to make it work.
You realize just how much effort it takes when you’ve played three or four rolls in succession.
Fortunately we had lots of eager feet and legs.
I remember, years ago, when I was on one of my fitness kicks, I asked Husby for an exercise bike.
And he bought me four new rolls for the piano.
Now I can see his reasoning – beautiful music AND lots of exercise – then, I wasn’t as impressed.
Our player piano has been the focal point for our family for an entire generation. Tonight, I’m introducing the next generation.
You’ll probably be able to hear us . . .