Think 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 19: On This Day in Music

today

• 1829 ~ Gustav Schirmer, German music publisher.  He founded G. Schirmer Inc., a classical music publishing company based in New York City, founded in 1861.

• 1818 ~ Blanche Thebom, American mezzo-soprano

• 1921 ~ Billy Ward, Singer, musician: piano with Billy Ward and the Dominoes

• 1931 ~ Brook (Benjamin Franklin) Benton (Peay), Singer

• 1934 ~ Brian Epstein, Talent manager for The Beatles

• 1935 ~ Nick Massi (Macioci), Bass, singer with The Four Seasons

• 1936 ~ The classic, Indian Love Call, was recorded by Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald, on Victor Records.

• 1940 ~ Bill Medley, Singer with The Righteous Brothers

• 1941 ~ “Mama” Cass Elliott (Ellen Naomi Cohen), American folk-pop singer with The Mamas & The Papas

• 1945 ~ Freda Payne, Singer with Duke Ellington

• 1946 ~ John Coghlan, Drummer with Status Quo

• 1947 ~ Lol Creme, Guitarist, singer with 10cc

• 1952 ~ Nile Rogers, Musician with Honeydrippers

• 1953 ~ Gisele MacKenzie took over as host on NBC-TV’s Your Hit Parade. Her biggest hit during that stint, 1953 to 1957, was Hard to Get in June of 1955. Ironically, the song was first sung by Gisele in an episode of the NBC-TV show, Justice. It became a hit and she performed it again on Your Hit Parade.

• 1955 ~ Eva Marie Saint, Frank Sinatra and Paul Newman starred in the Producer’s Showcase presentation of Our Town on NBC~TV.

• 1974 ~ Eric Clapton received a gold record for I Shot the Sheriff. The song reached #1 on the pop charts on September 14th.

• 1968 ~ Red (Clyde Julian) Foley passed away

• 1981 ~ For their first concert in years, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel reunited for a free concert to benefit New York City parks. The concert attracted a crowd of 500,000 people in Central Park and was broadcast to a TV audience in the millions.

• 2009 ~ Arthur Ferrante, American pianist and composer (Ferrante & Teicher – Exodus), died at the age of 88