Blown To Bits

The Last Piano Roll

Monday, January 5th, 2009 by Harry Lewis

QRS, a company in Buffalo, NY, has made its last player piano roll, after more than a century in the business. Readers of Blown to Bits, Chapter 8, will know that George Antheil famously realized that a player piano roll was a generalized digital code that could be used to control communications equipment as well as a musical instrument.

Like the controllers in virtually all communications equipment, piano rolls have been replaced by other digital media. According to the Buffalo News story, QRS “is now a leading manufacturer of digitized and computerized player-piano technology that runs on CDs.”

I wonder if Antheil used QRS pianos for his compositions.

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