Duo-Art AudioGraphic Music Rolls
"The World's Music"
compiled by Randolph Herr (030408 MMDigest)
additional data courtesy Julian Dyer

I think it would be a good idea if we started a master list of Duo-Art AudioGraphic rolls to correlate numbers and titles.  There are going to be some rough spots; for instance, A25 and Fr 2 are both the same roll: Debussy's "Flaxen Haired Girl", played by E. Robert Schmitz.

However, A34 and Fr 4 are both Debussy's "The Submerged Cathedral" played by Myra Hess, and I assume it is the same performance, but Fr 4 has Listener's Notes by Louis Aubert while A 34 has Listener's Notes by Percy Scholes.  The illustrations are different on both rolls also.  Go figure!

Randolph Herr
8 Apr 2003 16:42:06 -0400

Data compiled from his roll collection by Randolph Herr:
  audiographic2.html   List of Duo-Art AudioGraphic Music Rolls  (columns separated by backslash characters)
  audiographic3.html   List of Duo-Art AudioGraphic Music Rolls  (columns separated by space characters)


Researcher Charles Davis Smith remarked in his Duo-Art rollography: "The United States AudioGraphic issues are, in most all instances, reissues of the similar series begun in England about 1926, but under their own number code.  They more closely match the second half of the English issues (the Popular series) which was inaugurated in November of 1927 concurrent with the United States issues.  Why one numbered series was not issued in both countries (as were other series) is not known."

It's rather amusing to see how these rolls have suddenly reached "most wanted" status -- they used to actually fetch less money than normal rolls because of the boring leader you had to run through first!

Although not exactly common, they aren't particularly rare, either.  I probably see more World's Music rolls in the UK than original 1920s QRS rolls of Lawrence Cook (I have 38 all in all, counting both Duo-Art and Pianola issues, and I do not collect them especially).  I think the whole production ended up in Harrods' roll library and ended up in collectors' hands in the 1960s when the library was cleared out.  A few lucky UK eBay-ers are rubbing their hands with glee at the moment.

Although the series was termed "Audiographic", the word does not appear anywhere on the UK rolls I have, which all say "The World's Music", which is on catalogues, boxes and labels.  How are the American rolls labelled?

I have here a variety of bits from the Reginald Reynolds collection, part of the PPG's archive, and this includes an original launch glossy with a folder of details of the dealer publicity scheme and with a list of films made in the factory showing the rolls being made -- not that we have the films themselves!

There is also a contemporary press cutting which describes our Vice-President Yvonne Hinde-Smith being at the launch and turning on the piano as a film played.  I also have a nice copy of a factory proof of the first AudioGraphic catalogue.  These will be subject to a PPG publication sometime later this year.  Sign up -- only UKP 15 a year!

Most of the rolls are listed in Charles Davis Smith's book, "Catalog of Duo-Art Piano Rolls," although there are some biggish gaps, probably unused numbers.  That said, I got one of these rolls in a recent postbid and was surprised to find it was one of the uncatalogued ones!

I'd suggest documenting the list in (a) series order and (b) in title order showing the variety of issues each title received.  As all the rolls were drawn from the normal Duo-Art library it's the annotation that matters and is therefore the key to documenting these rolls. I would also list the original release from which each titles was drawn.  (Many of these rolls were recoded dynamically for AudioGraphic release -- some were very substantially reworked.)

One point on the list of numbers given below: these rolls _must_ be given their prefix number so you can tell the American 'A' series from the British 'D' series.  I also note some other letter prefixes in the list of American rolls that presumably have some significance.

The British 'D' series is listed in the original catalogues as:

 * Biographical
 * Analytical
 * Running Comment
 * Annotated
 * Children's Playtime
 * School Song (listed in the launch catalogue but missing from Smith)
 * Ear Training & Rhythmic Movement
   (listed in the launch catalogue but missing from Smith)

In later roll issues the title 'Listener's Introduction' also appears.

All of the above were issued as odd-numbered Duo-Art rolls with the subsequent even number being the Pianola edition.  The Pianola edition usually omits the pianist's name, a peculiar (and very British) means of marking the cheaper edition as being somehow less worthy!

Special 'school model' pianos were launched to go with these rolls, but it's interesting to note that the rolls they list as for schools are missing from Smith, which could possibly indicate they were never issued or were withdrawn.  Both appear at the start of significant gaps in the numerical listing.

The American 'A' series are listed by Smith as:

 * Listener's Introduction
 * Running Comment
 * Musical Analysis

The American 'C' series is Children's Playtime (all 4 rolls of it).

Hope all this is of interest.

Julian Dyer
Player Piano Group
9 Apr 2003 01:20:14 +0100