Playing the Piano is Hard?

Try to find an American Fotoplayer!

fotoplayer

The American Fotoplayer is a type of photoplayer developed by the American Fotoplayer Company between the years of 1912 and 1925. The Fotoplayer is a type of player piano specifically developed to provide music and sound effects for silent movies.

The appeal of the Fotoplayer to theatre owners was the fact that it took no musical skill to operate. The Fotoplayer would play the piano and pipe organ mechanically using an electric motor, an air pump, and piano rolls while the user of the Fotoplayer would follow the onscreen action while pulling cords, pushing buttons, and pressing pedals to produce relatable sounds to what was occurring onscreen. These actions could create sounds such as a steamboat whistle, a bird chirp, wind, thunder, a telephone bell, as well as many others. On Fotoplayers specifically, most effects were created using leather cords with wooden handles on the ends which the effects were directly connected to. For example, the steamboat whistle sound effect was created using a household bellows with a whistle at the end. Pulling the cord compressed the bellows, delivering a gust of air into the whistle. Creating a drum roll on the other hand was a bit more complicated. A clockwork device was needed to time the strikes of the drum which required constant winding.

Adapted from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_American_Fotoplayer

 

September 21 ~ in Music History

today

 

• 1737 ~ Francis Hopkinson, American statesman, signer of the Declaration of Independence, first native-born American composer and writer

OCMS 1874 ~ Gustav (Theodore) Holst, British composer and conductor
Read quotes by and about Holst
More information about Holst

• 1912 ~ György Sándor, Hungarian pianist

• 1934 ~ Leonard Cohen, Canadian folk singer, songwriter and poet

• 1941 ~ Dickey Lee (Lipscomb), Singer, songwriter

• 1947 ~ Donald Felder, Guitarist, singer with The Eagles

• 1953 ~ Roger Quilter, British composer, died at the age of 75

• 1956 ~ Robert Mills Delaney, American composer, died at the age of 53

• 1987 ~ Jaco Pastorius, American jazz musician and bass guitarist (Weather Report), died at the age of 35

• 2007 ~ Alice Ghostley, American singer and actress (Bewitched, Designing Women), died at the age of 84

• 2016 ~ John D. Loudermilk, American country singer and songwriter (Tobacco Road), died at the age of 82