Inventing Entertainment: The Player Piano and the Origins of an American Musical Industry

Inventing Entertainment: The Player Piano and the Origins of an American Musical Industry

by Brian Dolan

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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. The player piano, with its perforated music rolls that told the pianos what key to strike, changed musical performance because it made a musical piece standard, repeatable, and easy rather than something laboriously learned. It also created a national audience because the music that was played in New Orleans or Kansas City could also be played in New York or Missoula, as new music (ragtime) and dance (fox-trot) styles crisscrossed the continent along with the player piano's music rolls. By the 1920s, only automobile sales exceeded the amount generated by player pianos and their music rolls. Consigned today to the realm of collectors and technological arcane, the player piano was a moving force in American music and American life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780742564619
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date: 01/16/2009
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 232
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Brian Dolan is professor of humanities at the University of California, San Francisco and the author of Ladies of the Grand Tour and Wedgwood: The First Tycoon.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Soundscape and Memory
Chapter 2 Missionaries and Museums
Chapter 3 Chronic Mechanitis
Chapter 4 Every Collector's Dream
Chapter 5 A Musical Morse Code
Chapter 6 A Search for Identity
Chapter 7 Possession
Chapter 8 Expressio
Chapter 9 A Race for the Rolls
Chapter 10 Philosophers of the Fetish

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