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Jan 19 13 11:45 PM

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The following was originally posted on the MMDigest board, but I think that it should be repeated on this board.

Sorry to hear of another closure, although I must admit it is many years since I have visited Paul Corin's Museum.

However I BELIEVE (possibly wrongly) that Paul had the piano part (only) of one of the recording pianos used at Hayes - I am told that it had a 'huge' multicore cable coming from under the keyboard. It (almost certainly) came from Gordon Isles (Artona) sale so it may not have been totally original - although quite a few of the Artona bits were original.
The piano (an upright) didn't look anything special, but if it was 'original' it may be worth someone documenting it properly before it disappers.
Is there any one who can confirm:-

1) Is the 'Recording piano' still there.(or, if not, possibly where it is)
2) Is it original - or had it been 'Altered' by Gordon Isles
3) Is it possible to document it properly - Contacts, Circuit Diag etc.

If yes to any of these is there anyone in the area prepared to have a look at it as I'm too far away.

Play it again Sam.

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#1 [url]

Jan 21 13 6:54 PM

Closure of Paul Corins Museum

From the NWPPA
We have just had a message from Paul, via member Brian Chesters, to say that he never had the 'Recording Piano' in the Museum, and it is possible that the cable seen was from one of the various Theatre Organs in the Museum.
Thanks for the info Paul

However this still leaves the question 'What happened to the Recording Piano', it was Definitely included in the Artona (Gordon Isles) sale. but we have no Info re who bought it?

As Bob says it may have been a 'Gordon Isles' artifact, but several other Aeolian bits were included in that sale and it would be nice to confirm exactly what it was that was sold.

Was anyone from this forum at the auction?

The masters fingers on your piano

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#2 [url]

Jan 23 13 10:21 PM

Even if it is does still exist it is totally worthless junk with no possible practical use or modern implementation. All the output data gotten from the Iles recording piano contraption just leads to the clunky badly recorded style of roll captures they expecienced. Which is why Iles stopped using it and went back to drawing board arrangements by all accounts. There's no point trying to document and record everything that ever was - it's basically just another manifestation of a hoarding activity.

A modern digitial piano can give far more accurate time and also capture dynamic individual note data in ways Aeolian could only but dream of.

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#3 [url]

Jan 24 13 12:11 AM

Sorry you feel like that Adam,   Perhaps, on the same basis, we should close all museums and scrap all the Orchestrions, Fairground organs and Pianola's etc as,  lets be honest, a Disclavier does it all better ---

BUT Please will you let me take some photo's before you light the bonfire.

Play it again Sam.

Last Edited By: playola Jan 24 13 12:15 AM. Edited 1 time.

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#4 [url]

Jan 24 13 3:28 PM

LOL Playola, you've wilfully missed the point entirely. It was just junk cobbled together in the first place, then the owner dismantled it because it was just cobbled-together-junk that didn't work great.

That has nothing to do with preserving worthy items in museums. Iles' junk was just junk - not some possible unknown holygrail of pianola relicdom worthy of worship - just stuff for the skip. You must understand that when Iles died none of this junk had any true commercial value whatsoever. Enthusiasts twitched uncontrollably for sure at the prospect of hoarding more old clutter but there really was very very little of true historic relevance to the subject. So, an auction was held so people would cart the stuff off at their own expense rather than lumber the estate with paying for skips LOL. One of the perforators got put to some new life in Slough for a while but it wasn't ever a commerical success. Even Iles only made enough money by running as a one-man-band to just about get on by in life. He had some kind of Izal medicated toilet paper he used to punch rolls (smell the blue ones!) and used scrap plastic for spool ends and never sold a proper two-part box ever.

Things in museums like orchestrions and fairorgans and pianola are there for a proper reason. Some things are not in museums also for a good reason : Iles' junked piano recorder is one such item. If anyone ever finds it all I can say is : don't expect a phone call from the Science Museum anytime soon, or the Musical Museum LOL

I'm not sure why you've gone off on a tangent about the Disklavier saying "it does it all better" - that's not what I said at all. What I said was "A modern digital piano can give far more accurate time and also capture dynamic individual note data in ways Aeolian could only but dream of."   A Disklavier will often given a less accurate output than a digital piano because it is an acoustic instrument retro-fitted with a digi-capture system so has the same sort of faults as the Iles' junk from a recording perspective.

with kind regards,



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#5 [url]

Jan 30 13 1:29 AM

I think there's some wishful thinking going on here! The story generally told is that the Aeolian Duo-Art recording piano from Bond Street, moved to Hayes (when Aeolian Hall closed, presumably), and was destroyed in a bombing raid and ended up as hardcore to fill the hole in the Great Western main line. There was a mechanical 'marking piano' at Hayes in 1910 or thereabouts, because it's shown in the factory photographs (very much like the famed QRS one). Gordon Iles started making rolls at Hayes c.1948 (as 'Universal', using cast-aluminium roll flanges), before adopting the Artona name and c.1950 moving whatever he wanted to keep down to Ramsgate. Did he take a piano with him from Hayes, and if so what? I rather suspect not.

Sadly, the Ramsgate operation was a serious contender for the worst-ever piano roll production. There were some truly bizarre production techniques that messed up the rolls - such as a mechnical device to interrupt the punches every few rows to create bridges, even on the first row of a slot so delaying some notes quite unmusically. When coupled with poor analogue copying technique, this could end up with a flat chord being spread over more than a tenth of an inch, making the music close to unrecognisable. 'Master' rolls were only made for some rolls, such as the the Duo-Art copies of the 1960s, which are more accurate but spoiled in being cut at 20 rows/inch even for originals made at 30 rows/inch. Artona 'masters' have synchronisation punches and were somewhat corrected to tidy them.

What's always saddened me is that some of Iles' Hayes-made rolls were clearly made using the original Aeolian stencils - long sprocketed cardboard afairs used to operate the perforators. Some at least survived the bombing in the 'fireproof' stencil-store, which held each stencil in an earthenware tube. Given that almost none are floating around today, I suspect that Iles disposed of them when he moved to Ramsgate (anything at Ramsgate when it was sold was saved so we'd know if any stencils were there at that time). Sad for historical reasons, but not disasterous with modern software we can recreate these from the production rolls.

Did Iles ever make a recording device of his own? I've never encountered a Ramsgate-originated hand-played roll as far as I know, although I can't say I've made any great effort to look at these rolls. The 1950s-onwards new production I've seen is all arranged material, and few of the titles are really worth having for the various reasons outlined earlier, even if you like the arrangements. Even if some device did come from Ramsgate in the early-1980s sale I'd tend to agree that it's not likely to be of much interest.


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#6 [url]

Jan 30 13 2:06 AM

By the way, Gerald Stonehill visited Iles in Ramsgate in 1961 and wrote of it for the PPG bulletin. He describes the roll production setup broadly as above (OK, a bit less critical), and also the roll-reading. He doesn't mention of any recording device, and I'm sure he would have if any had been present.


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