Jump to content
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...
Welcome Guest!

Join us now to get access to all our features. Once registered and logged in, you will be able to create topics, post replies to existing threads, give reputation to your fellow members, get your own private messenger, and so, so much more. It's also quick and totally free, so what are you waiting for?

BLACK LIVES MATTER! ×
BLACK LIVES MATTER!
dsoslglece

recorded old time witnesses

Recommended Posts

Hello all,

I'd like to bring to the knowledge of many the fact that mechanic "pianers" used in saloons before the turn of the 1900, are only a low quality product, compared with what came just little bit after it.

Mechanical devices had been in use since the XVIIIe century to reproduce as well as possible the popular music, (in those days, popular din't mean low quality, it just meant what it says: liked by many)... and so, music boxes, "serinettes" (to teach to birds to sing popular melodies), mechanical organs... where built to play music... they were working generally on the same principle: a cylinder on which little pins were planted, and, when turning, each pin at its turn opened a pipe where air could then blow...

Entire books have been written on the art of putting those pins at the right place, completed by entire theory of the music and the way to play it, since those persons manufacturing the music boxes or mechanical organs were not necessarily musicians. That only would be priceless since it gives for todays musicians the way to read the music of those centuries (the signs not having kept the same meaning till today)...

but those devices when they are in good condition, or reconditionned, give us an irreplaceable testimony about what was done, for instance, rytmically... playing for example some known Lulli's menuet much faster then used in the XX century, and playing unevenly the quavers, much like in the way you, americans are playing the jazz with a "swing"...

Also, there is somewhere for instance (I don't know if it is still published) a recording on a mechanic pipe organ, of a pupil of Haendel... yes!... Well, not to difficult after all to plant the pins on that cylinder in a way that it would just play like that organist would play the piece... and it was always possible to correct it if some note came to early or to late... and to ask to the player what he thought of it...

So, what we have today, is a true image of that playing... On the recording in my possession, they are many pieces from the XVII and early XVIII, including some Haendel organ concerti... by the way, it is most interesting to listen to it, and for instance, I have in memory one of the movement, an Allegro (I think), which is written as a succession of chords in quavers and minimes, like a choral... but, in that recording, the player (and don't forget he was a pupil of Haendel self) adds ornaments...

I mean that, for each chord, one of the notes (never at the same place of the harmony) has a trill or a mordent (today, trill and mordent are about the same, but in those days, the trill was from the upper note and the mordent from underneath)... and so, it gives to the whole piece a sort of a vibration, it makes the chords being alive and progressing forwards... instead of being just one boring progression...

Karl philip Emanuel Bach, speaking of the improvised ornaments between the chords or important notes of a melody, (they were always added to the music, like in jazz today) said that they should be like the Ivy, the vine-vierge and chevre-feuille binding the pillars of a monument...

But, let us come back to the mechanical music instruments... and keyboard instruments in particular... many experiments had been made in the course of the XIX century too, and so, they found a way to have the pianos keys put in movement thanks to paper rolls:

It works on depression, that the clever trick.

The paper roll is neetly pressed against, and passes in front of something looking like a thick pipe where a row of small holes are were drilled horizontally. In fact, each one of those holes corresponds to a note of the keyboard, and is the opening of a tiny pipe going into the mechanic.

When the paper roll is applied on front of those holes, they are perfectly shut, and no air is allowed in. And so, thanks to the pedals (like an harmonium) a depression is created inside those tiny pipes... This depression keeps shut for each pipe, a sort of a small box acting like a relay... I mean when one of those boxes opens, it opens a tab and some air goes then through an other pipe (with air pressure this time), and gives movement to one of the piano's hammers.... for instance, if you use the pedals and pump it, but without having any paper roll, you'll hear all the notes at once... four people sitting at once on the keyboard!... and if you do the same but with a roll, and in a place of the roll where there is no hole in the paper, there aint no sound.

One hole at the right place gives the right note, and the duration of the sound depends of the length of the hole...

Now, concerning the intensity of the sound, there where different systems, but all depending of extra holes on the roll, detto for the use of the piano pedals (not the one of those mechanic pianos, to pump air ! but the ones of the proper pianos: right one to keep the sound, and left one to play only on one string for each note)...

So, those pianos improved, and did really start to be faithfull to their originals shortly after 1900... and, to record the pianist playing, they used an other piano, working the other way round, where a little pencil would come down on an plain paper roll (no holes on it), and mark a line all the time the pianist would keep that note down (there was one pencil per note)... parallelly, they used a sort of vibrating device (ancestor of the mic, which would mark with an other pencil the vibration of each note, the widest vibration being of course the loudest. And over all that, there was the ear of the specialist (also musician) who could remember what he heard, and in the last verification when everything had been made but before to finalize it, the pianist himself...

Some great pianist of the past, where very impressed with that and declared that it gave them the feeling to ear them self again...

I must say that the first time I heard such a recording, it really gave me the goose flesh... so much I had the feeling to really ear and feel the presence of a great one every body thought dead and forgotten.

And so, today, dating of 1912, they are some "recordings" of Debussy, Mahler, Richard Srauss, de Falla,Grieg, Saint-Saëns, Max Reger for the composers, and for the pianists : von Sauer, d'Albert, Busoni, Paderewski, Careño, Pugno, and even Stavenhagen which was a pupil of Liszt and performed one of the Rhapsody "the way Liszt played it"... (to quote only few!) and those "recordings", are recorded today (rather yesterday!), from pianos having been reconditionned, and in stereo... just like a normal concert where the piano plays by himself.

I mean, much much better than the first wax rolls used in those days to record music, when one had only few minutes to play and where they had to remove the felt of the piano hammers to ear the sound on the record !... Of course, the wax could also record something else than the piano, for instance the voice... I've got so the recording (one of the first recordings!!) of Brahms (died in 1897) talking shortly, and saying in english to an english public "I am Master Brahms... Johannes Brahms", and then playing two of his waltzes.... but of course, the whole being full of scratches and surface noises...

Some of those pianos, for instance the Welte-Mignon system (built on Steinweg pianos, the german original make of the today excellent Steinway) which was probably the best of those days, disappeared after the first war, the factory in Germany having been destroyed in the 1917 bombings.

But other makes came, and still refined more the technology, and so, some recordings had been made till around 1935, with for instance Rachmaninov playing... few hours of music, lot of his pieces and some from others... He was a fantastic pianist... one of the last ones to master totally the true rubato... that rubato coming from the barocks (many great musicians of those days tried to explain how to do it, including KPE Bach and Mozart), it disappeared a bit at the beginning of the XIXe century (or rather became sort of decadent or perverted, being wrongly made, and to become what it is today...), but it was then still in use by the few who knew how to do it...

So people where bepuzzled by Chopin using it with such mastery that he could play at the same concert, the same piece three times (beginning, middle and end) without bein accused of repeating him self... That's the rubato which consist to have the right hand going faster or slower, according to the music, but the left hand keeping about the proper speed, the two hands having some time more then a beat difference!... By the way, Saint-Saëns (he knew so many things that old bird! and published even articles in astronomy revues!) talks also from that rubato, and speaks of one of the Chopin studies that he called the model of perfect rubato study...

Well, I may be a bit far now from the Piano-rolls... but not that much, if one considers that they are for some of them, the living witnesses of that way of playing... some, of course, with a bit extravagance (paderewski etc...) but I would say that they are the same sort of fakes today... and after all Paderewski was a good pianist for a prime minister... one couldn't say the same from some of todays clowns, and he had such a good figur :icon_mad: to be able to turn on all his girls-fans and ladies-groupies...

Well I want to quote one more thing, and sepecially for you, Americans... Do you know that your famous one: Gershwin, has played on those pianers ? he recorded the "Rapsody in blues".

Of course, he recorded it four hand with someone playing the orchestra parts underneath... And so, some clever fellow imagined to plug all the holes pertaining to the accompaniment, living only to be played the solo piano part, and then to record that, but in playing together the accompaniment on proper living instruments.

To be more interesting, he used as orchestra, the original version of that piece, for a small group of musiciens (3 winds but playing many instruments, 8 strings, and a cohorte of jazz band type percussions) the known version of todays for symphony orchestra having been made a bit later by Ferde Grofé (the composer of great cañyon suite)

It is most interesting to listen to it, especially in reason of the tempi... Gershwin's tempi!... I must confess that, prior to that, well, I considered that piece like something a bit soupy, and as a conglomeration of bits and pieces without much as unity or structure...

But now, I really discovered that, played how it should be, it makes a whole thing, it says something... and as for the soupy feeling, well, it comes only when the conductors and pianists believe that blues means slow... but when Gershwin plays it, some time more than twice the speed generally used, at the limit some time of the instrumental possibilities... and then still taking the luxury to accelerate...

We say in french: "ça décoiffe"... something like "it blows your hair" or "it takes of your head-dress"...

I ignore if that recording still exists, it was an old vinyl, and the conductor and organiser was Michael Tilson-Thomas and the Colombia Jazz Band, and of course as a soloist: G. Gershwin in person.

Any way, if you are interested you can look for it (CBS 76509)... maybe, one day if its not published anymore, I'll put it on the net...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cool write-up.

Did you see this?

thread

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Cool write-up.

Did you see this?

thread

Well, thanks for the thread, Shawn, but I could only guess it is some sort of playing machine, maybe the sort of thing they did in the late XIX century to replace a full orchestra... but unfortunately I couldn't download it or even see more than the one picture of it, since it said the link has expired!...

if it is the sort of think I believe, they also tried to construct such apparatuses back at the XVIIIe, with mechanic string quartet playable from a keyboard, and, around 1890, full symph orchestras, with winds, strings and percussions...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks, your Dudeness... :thumbsup:

but what's that?... first view and listening, I'd say it's interesting... but since there ain't no explaination 'bout where it comes from, what it's made of, by whom and for what use... if it really is a machine, or a video trick... it stay very mysterious... :unsure:

It first looks like a machine, but there seems to be some added stuff when it starts to move... (those little things in the air dancing from one tube to the next...) which seem to be more from the video or cartoons realm, making it appear more as one of those automated boxes that played music when opened, and having some sort of marionets or puppets or whatever it was, moving or dancing on top of it...

So, please gi'me the clue... thanks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's the machine that Shawn referred to... :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks a lot, but, squeezing me brain for hours to get an answer, I came about to that conclusion my self!... The only think is that Shawn didn't say either what it's supposed to be... after all it could be an automated machine to pop up the corn... accompanied with some sort of music...

by the way, and to speak of something completely different, I read that you have a bad flu... if it happens again, make yourself a box-wood leaves decoction (40g per liter put in cold water, boiled for a while and let to cool down a bit), and drink a glass or two of it, and then, go to bed and swet all night... if you do that at the first symptoms, your flu disappears instantly. (box-wood leafs are a natural strong anti-virus... a sort of a norton, but better than norton!)... generally one can also and in addition, drink some elder-flower tee... it tastes not to good (something like cat pee), but is very efficient to chase all the bugs like bacills cocs, streptococs, etc... which are oftens accompanying a flu...

Good recovery!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

thank you, sir

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Our picks

    • Wait, Burning Man is going online-only? What does that even look like?
      You could have been forgiven for missing the announcement that actual physical Burning Man has been canceled for this year, if not next. Firstly, the nonprofit Burning Man organization, known affectionately to insiders as the Borg, posted it after 5 p.m. PT Friday. That, even in the COVID-19 era, is the traditional time to push out news when you don't want much media attention. 
      But secondly, you may have missed its cancellation because the Borg is being careful not to use the C-word. The announcement was neutrally titled "The Burning Man Multiverse in 2020." Even as it offers refunds to early ticket buyers, considers layoffs and other belt-tightening measures, and can't even commit to a physical event in 2021, the Borg is making lemonade by focusing on an online-only version of Black Rock City this coming August.    Read more...
      More about Burning Man, Tech, Web Culture, and Live EventsView the full article
      • 0 replies
    • Post in What Are You Listening To?
      Post in What Are You Listening To?
    • Post in What Are You Listening To?
      Post in What Are You Listening To?
    • Post in What Are You Listening To?
      Post in What Are You Listening To?
    • Post in What Are You Listening To?
      Post in What Are You Listening To?
×
×
  • Create New...