Picturolls contained additional “code” specifically for the instruments and sound effects on the Fotoplayer.

Though any piano roll could be used on the foto­play­er, the Pic­tur­oll made by the Film Music Co. were made specif­i­cal­ly for the foto­play­er. The Pic­tur­olls were cut with a unique com­bi­na­tion of long and short holes in the paper to make the piano and the organ pipes per­form bet­ter togeth­er.

The titles of these rolls indi­cate the mood of music which one would play to match the action pro­ject­ed on the screen. Titles such as Mushy Music, Fire! Fire! Fire!, Drunk Soused Spree, and The Roar­ing Vol­cano, are some of the typ­i­cal rolls that a foto­play­er oper­a­tor would have ready-at-hand.

Please let Joe Rin­au­do know if you have or have seen any of these Pic­tur­olls, as Joe  would love to hear them played on his machine. Con­tact him here.


Scott Lasky and Joe Rinaudo listen to a few test runs of Mr. Lasky’s new roll arrangement of “traditional” silent film chase music.

Scott Lasky is Musi­cal Direc­tor for Famous Play­ers Orches­tra, a silent film orches­tra based in Los Ange­les. Mr. Lasky vis­it­ed Joe Rin­au­do to test his new­ly-cut piano roll.

Accord­ing to Mr.  Lasky , “I recent­ly dropped in on Joe Rin­au­do and showed him a new piano roll arrange­ment I was work­ing on. This was a test roll which we tried out on the Amer­i­can Foto­play­er in order to hear how it would sound using dif­fer­ent set­tings and tem­pi and also check for errors.” That vis­it was filmed for the above video.


Vis­it the Famous Play­ers Orches­tra web­site, FPOrchestra.org, and enjoy this short piece about music of the silent cin­e­ma, and about the orga­ni­za­tion:

Famous Play­ers Orches­tra CD Fund Dri­ve

Share your love of silent films and great his­toric music of the silent era with a con­tri­bu­tion to Famous Play­ers Orches­tra. Famous Play­ers Orches­tra is an IRS 501(c)(3) not-for-prof­it orga­ni­za­tion and your tax-deductable con­tri­bu­tions are great­ly appre­ci­at­ed! Your gen­er­ous sup­port will help FPO to con­tin­ue their work in reviv­ing this remark­able for­got­ten music through live con­cert per­for­mances and new record­ing projects. Vis­it the dona­tion page.

The End

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