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Originally appearing in Volume V21, Page 574 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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IIF,r 1 1" Il l~~~i'~ IIIIIIaitiaJ anal `•; . !Ii~ yt N4T~ ] !,;':~~ mlll~l 1i5:\7.1YL ~. ~m ' I• ilff ~~JJ((jjjj llJJll-1l11JJLL111lttjJljJ~ jlJ(jJljlJl llJJ~~llllJJ((11JJ((jjjjJJ<.,.~ 11~11111~~1111IIIIfl1~111111111111111111111111111111 in his famous " double escapement " action. The principle of this grand action, like that of Wornum patented for upright pianos in 1826, has become general. But Joseph Henry Cary in 1853 (patent No. 2283) invented a simple contrivance for repetition in all pianos, neglected at the time, and subsequently repatented and disputed over by others, which has only been preserved in the records of the patent office, while the inventor has left no other mark. But the utility of the invention has come to light. It is increasingly used in the actions of upright pianos, and, in combination with the old English grand action, is successfully competing with the Erard action proper and the simplified Herz-Erard, of late years so very generally employed. There has been a great change in the freer technique of piano-playing, partly favoured by the development of piano-making, but reacting and obliging the piano-makers to keep Technique. their attention incessantly alive to the aim and requirements of the players. It is true that the genius of Beethoven dominates a technique that has become obsolete, and so completely that the adequate performance of his piano works still gives to the sense as well as the intellect the highest pleasure, but his annotations to Cramer's Studies, as preserved by Schindler, betray the close touch of the clavichord-player and the student of C. P. E. Bach's Essay on Clavichord-Playing, as well as the Fic. 36.-Modern Pianola. A, Blowing pedals operated by feet of player connected by metal crank to feeder B, which exhausts air from bellows C, which in turn exhausts air from all working valves and bellows in Pianola. D, is perforated roll passing over tracker bar E winding on to spool F operated by a pneumatic motor and controlled by lever G, which is connected to' metrostyle pointer H. This is used in conjunction with a specially marked roll, giving correct interpretation of tempo. I, is channel leading to primary pneumatic J operating secondary pneumatic K, which exhausts striking motor L, connected to key lever M to depress piano key. The themodist device consists of two small holes, one at each end of tracker bar E, connecting with pneumatic valve, which increases power of suction instantaneously when melody notes are being played, by means of an extra perforation at each outside edge of music roll D; one hole for bass melody at left, and one at right edge for treble melody. N, is metal arm or bracket connected to lever in front for purpose of depressing sustaining pedal of piano. 0, is the governing bellows of motor for operating music-roll and prevents pace of roll being accelerated or retarded by hard or soft pedalling, thus allowing great change of expression to be made without interfering with speed of roll.weakness as a musical instrument of the early piano. The inventor of a technique so original, and at the time (c. 1830) so extraordinary, as Chopin's, sat at the piano with his elbows immovable, using, for flexibility, neither wrist nor arm. With Chopin, to play loudly was anathema. The modern free style of playing comes from Czerny—whom Beethoven despised as having no legato (Bindung)—through Liszt to the Rubinsteins and to the splendidly equipped performers of our time, to whom the pedal has become indispensable for cantabile Ind effect. The most expert performers are now rivalled technically by the recent extraordinary invasion of the American automatic piano-players--the Angelus, Pianola, Apollo, Ceci- lian, and other varieties of the same idea. The use p ey; g" of the perforated roll acts by means of the ingenious and indeed faultless application of pneumatic leverage to the ordinary piano, doing duty for the pianist's fingers; and it is made possible to play louder or softer, faster or slower, by mechanical arrangement. Such an instrument lacks the player's touch, which is as personal and indispensable for sympathy as the singer's voice or violinist's bow. Still, to a violinist, it is a benefit to have a correct coadjutor in a Beethoven or Brahms sonata with one of these handy companions, just as it is to a singer to have always at command the accompaniments to his or her repertory. The Apollo has the addition of a useful transposing apparatus—an aid, however, that, though often tried, has never yet been adopted; it is possibly too disturbing to the musician's ear. The mechanical tuning-pin is an analogous experiment which comes regularly under notice as the years go by, to be as persistently rejected. The most practical of these tuning inventions was the Alibert, shown in the Inventions Exhibition, 1885. Here, pressure upon the strings above the wrest-plank bridge modified their tension after a first rough adjustment to pitch had been effected. The perforated music-sheet, a mechanism common to piano-playing attachments as well as self-playing pianos, first appears in a French patent, 1842. A United States patent for a keyboard piano-player was issued to E. D. Bootman (Dec. 18, 1860), and the first pneumatic keyboard piano-player was patented in France in 1863 by M. Fourneaux. Between 1879 and 1902 a total of 55 patents had been issued in the States. The first complete automatic piano-player ready for performance was the Angeius (No. 24799, 1897). The specification is from a communication to the British patent office by Edward Hollingworth White, of Meriden, New Haven county, Conn., U.S.A. There is a pneumatic chest, fulcrum bar, finger levers, bellows and pedals. The whole apparatus is contained in a portable cabinet mounted upon castors, so as to be conveniently moved about a room. The finger levers or key strikers correspond with a considerable portion of the manual keys or clavier of a piano. Thus the automatic piano-player comprises a portable cabinet provided with bellows and operating pedals, a pneumatic actuating mechanism, a tracker adjusted for the use of a perforated music-sheet, a pneumatic motor and winding-roll mechanism to propel the music-sheet, and a series of finger levers operated by the pneumatic mechanism, so projecting as to overhang the piano keyboard and play upon it, with rockers or levers for depressing the piano pedals. Subsequently the apparatus was made capable of accelerating or retarding the tempo at the will of the operator. A roll of music, 12 in. wide and varying in length according to the composition, can be placed in position promptly, and when exhausted can be returned upon its original roll by a simple stop, altogether a triumph of mechanical adjustment. The Pianola followed in 1898, the Apollo 1900. The difference of all these clever contrivances is not conspicuous to the amateur. While these allied inventions have had to do with a substitute for touch and the necessity for the persevering acquirement of a difficult technique, another, the Virgil Practice Clavier, so called after the inventor, Mr Almon Kincaid Virgil, an American music teacher, is intended to shorten the period of study by doing away with tone, so that the finger technique is acquired mechanically and unmusically, while value of tone, reading, expression, what-ever we understand by musical production exciting our receptivity through the ear, is delayed until the player's hand is formed and considerably developed. The opinion of some of the very greatest pianists is brought forward as approving of the system; in the work, for instance, of Vladimir de Pachmann, whose technique was formed long before the Virgil Clavier came to Europe. Bearing in mind that the minimum weight of the touch of a concert piano is not likely to exceed three and a half ounces it is hardly likely that these skilled performers use this dumb keyboard with the graduated weight advised for advancing pupils, namely, from five to eight ounces. It is allowed that the lightest possible touch may be used at first. One high recommen-The Dumb dation certainly remains after all that may be said regard-Keyboard. ing Mr Virgil's invention: that it is practically silent, almost noiseless, the up and down clicks that mark the duration of finger attachment being alone audible, a boon to the unwilling hearers of ordinary piano practice, scales and five-finger exercises. Mr Virgil's invention was _produced in its elementary form in 1872, the more satisfactory Practice Clavier dates from the completion of the invention, about 1890. It was brought to England in 1895 by Mr Virgil.
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