BN.com Gift Guide

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

Hardcover (Print)
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $36.36
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 8%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (2) from $36.36   
  • New (2) from $36.36   

Overview

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.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

David Suisman
With remarkable economy, Brian Dolan takes us on a journey into a neglected but important corner of American cultural history, the player piano. Far more than a novelty, this instrument remade the entire piano industry in its image, forming a fascinating link between the Victorian piano-in-the-parlor and the modern era of mechanical reproduction. Dolan analyzes the player piano from a variety of angles, bringing to life the rich, human dimensions of the culture in which it developed and thrived.
Southwest Journal Of Cultures Online
The book is an absolutely delightful read that chronicles the author's travels in the West-coast world of player piano connoisseurs, collectors, aficionados, fans, museums of mechanical instruments, and sepia-toned memories as much as it illuminates the history of the invention. Dolan writes with all the fascination of a man in a museum filled with previously unseen masterpieces by his favorite artist. Much of the book gracefully oscillates between an ethnography of modern player piano culture, which roves through the houses of collectors, museums, and the National Association of Music Merchants convention, and a history of the growth, development, and demise of the industry. The descriptions and narratives are spotted with colorful figures, visionaries, and the myriad musicians who were part of player piano culture. While this book may seem from the outset to be a niche book, it is much more than just a quirky book about a side-slice of Americana. It artfully jumps genres, is a consistently smooth read, and presents thoughtful theoretical queries about the history of technology and socio-auditory culture.
Trevor Pinch
In this fascinating book Brian Dolan shows that the player piano was the iPod of the early twentieth century. The piano rolls—an early form of digital storage—sold in the millions and transformed popular music and Tin Pan Alley paving the way for the arrival of radio, the phonograph, and the juke box. Based on original research and interviews with collectors, Dolan traces the practices of the hidden musicians who made this first form of recordable music and shows how artists likes Fats Waller first learnt their trade listening to the player piano before themselves adopting a unique style suitable to the new medium. This is a book for music lovers and scholars alike.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780742561274
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/16/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 232
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet 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.

Read More Show Less

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

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)