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Inventing Entertainment: The Player Piano and the Origins of an American Musical Industry (英語) ハードカバー – 2008/11/30
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Brian Dolan's social and cultural history of the music business in relation to the history of the player piano is a critical chapter in the story of contemporary life. The player piano made the American music industry-and American music itself-modern. For years, Tin Pan Alley composers and performers labored over scores for quick ditties destined for the vaudeville circuit or librettos destined for the Broadway stage. But the introduction of the player piano in the early 1900s transformed Tin Pan Alley's guild of composers, performers, and theater owners into a music industry.
With remarkable economy, Brian Dolan takes us on a journey into a neglected but important corner of American cultural history, the player piano. Far more than a novelty, this instrument remade the entire piano industry in its image, forming a fascinating link between the Victorian piano-in-the-parlor and the modern era of mechanical reproduction. Dolan analyzes the player piano from a variety of angles, bringing to life the rich, human dimensions of the culture in which it developed and thrived. -- David Suisman, University of Delaware A fun read with some interesting stories. The author writes in an easygoing style and the book can be a quick read. Anyone who owns a player piano will surely want this in his or her collection. -- Steve Ramm Amazon.Com Review, July 1, 2009 The book is an absolutely delightful read that chronicles the author's travels in the West-coast world of player piano connoisseurs, collectors, aficionados, fans, museums of mechanical instruments, and sepia-toned memories as much as it illuminates the history of the invention. Dolan writes with all the fascination of a man in a museum filled with previously unseen masterpieces by his favorite artist. Much of the book gracefully oscillates between an ethnography of modern player piano culture, which roves through the houses of collectors, museums, and the National Association of Music Merchants convention, and a history of the growth, development, and demise of the industry. The descriptions and narratives are spotted with colorful figures, visionaries, and the myriad musicians who were part of player piano culture. While this book may seem from the outset to be a niche book, it is much more than just a quirky book about a side-slice of Americana. It artfully jumps genres, is a consistently smooth read, and presents thoughtful theoretical queries about the history of technology and socio-auditory culture. Southwest Journal Of Cultures Online, Summer Post 2, July 2009 In this fascinating book Brian Dolan shows that the player piano was the iPod of the early twentieth century. The piano rolls-an early form of digital storage-sold in the millions and transformed popular music and Tin Pan Alley paving the way for the arrival of radio, the phonograph, and the juke box. Based on original research and interviews with collectors, Dolan traces the practices of the hidden musicians who made this first form of recordable music and shows how artists likes Fats Waller first learnt their trade listening to the player piano before themselves adopting a unique style suitable to the new medium. This is a book for music lovers and scholars alike. -- Trevor Pinch, Goldwin Smith Professor of Science and Technology Studies, Cornell University商品の説明をすべて表示する
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Its coverage of the personalities and companies of the era is spotty at best, with a strong focus on the piano company Story & Clark and piano roll manufacturer Q.R.S. (not a huge surprise, given that the author is the nephew of Richard Dolan, current Chairman and President of Q.R.S. Music and its subsidiary Story & Clark). Its survey of key personalities in the field spends most of its time on Q.R.S.' star piano roll arranger J. Lawrence Cook (an amazingly gifted and prolific man who deserves a book of his own), omitting equally-significant arrangers like Frank Milne and Adam Carroll. The Ampico, Duo-Art and Welte reproducing systems and their music are discussed very little and seem to be dismissed with implications that they were too elitist.
The author seems to paint current mechanical music enthusiasts as generally eccentric folks, and I was embarrassed to read the author's account of visiting a French philosophy professor in Paris and being unable to recall the names of any famous French pianists.
In its brief mentions of present-day player pianos, this book leads the reader to believe that Q.R.S. is the only company that exists or matters today in the player piano world, failing to mention Q.R.S.' larger competitors Yamaha Corporation (Disklavier) and PianoDisc, as well as the innovation of contemporary electronic player piano system pioneers, such as Wayne Stahnke and Raymond Vincent, that made Q.R.S.' Pianomation system possible. The social and cultural role of present-day systems is barely covered at all, and their technology is waved away with a sort of "gee-whiz, couldn't even begin to imagine how all that works" attitude.
I think this book could have been better if the author had stuck with the idea of creating a detailed history of Q.R.S. and its prominent roll arrangers, with his family ties helping to give an insider's perspective instead of creating the pressure to appear non-biased.
The social history grabbed me. Dolan doesn't shove your nose in it but leads you along gracefully. I especially liked the sections on the African-American artists -- Fats Waller, J. P. Johnson, J. Lawrence Cook, and others -- who produced the rolls. At a time when many mainstream venues were denied them, the piano rolls offered a way to make not only money, but in some cases a living, simply because the artists were, to borrow Ralph Ellison, invisible men. Middle-class and upper-income households who never would have thought of blacks as anything but yard workers, cooks, and maids, ironically, entertained them in the parlor, through technology.
Again, I enjoyed the book, and I learned something from it as well.
I'll try to balance out the two reviews already posted before this one - the one-star by reader Dan Brown and the five star by the author. I think this book falls in the middle. If you are looking for a documented history of the Player Piano or how to repair one, this is not the book for you. But if you already own one and are part of the player piano collecting community (such as AMICA), then you'll find it a fun read and read some interesting stories. You know what you are in for when the FIRST chapter in the book is about the PEOPLE who collect Player Pianos (and obviously have large houses!).
No, I don't own a player piano (I ALMOST bought one years ago but it wouldn't fit through the front door!) I do, however collect antique phonographs and know the feeling of sharing your interest with other collectors and through collecting societies. (In fact, years ago, a friend took me to a local AMICA chapter meeting while I was on vacation in California.) And it was nice to read about the San Fillippo collection outside Chicago which I've also visited (because of the phonographs.)
The author writes in an easygoing style and the book can be a quick read. I learned some things I didn't know and am aware that I can research further on the Internet. I'm surprised that a book published in 2009 has no listing of Internet web pages or sites to go further into knowing more about these. Also, the illustrations are mostly of the performers (and very few at that.) I expected more illustrations of the different brands or styles of the pianos.
Anyone who owns a Player piano will surely want this in his or her collection. As for others, I'll recommend it as a discussion of the competition for the home entertainment dollar from 1910-1930 as the phonograph (cylinder and disc), and radio competed with the automated player piano.