Friday, July 27, 2007

ever seen or heard of a Violano-Virtuoso?

Thanks to a friend and his friend, I got to see & hear a Violano-Virtuoso last night. Many Irving Berlin tunes were played, some Jolson.

Evidently, there's also the Double Violano-Virtuoso with two mechanically played violins and a piano.

A few links:


a MIDI-fied Violano project

The Musical Museum, London

Nice photos here

The Violano-Virtuoso I saw had been recently MIDI-fied.

So rather than playing Violano piano rolls, it was playing MIDI files extracted from the rolls via a homebrew piano roll scanner devised by a group of mechanical musical instrument enthusiasts (including the owner of the V-V). The scanner, built using elements from flatbed scanners, reads a roll in increments of 5/1000ths of an inch and thereby creates both a graphic copy for making new rolls and the aforementioned MIDI file.

Hooking up to the MIDI interface a Palm Pilot full of these MIDI files, the Violano owner could easily call up tunes at will.

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