Mechanical Piano

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Mechanical Piano


a piano with an installed or attached device for playing without a pianist. Mechanical pianos included the phonola, the Welte-Mignon, and the pianola.

In mechanical pianos dating from the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, the keys, which are controlled by perforated paper rolls (mechanical note rolls), are set in action by a complex pneumatic system with a pedal or electrical driving gear. The use of perforated rolls was a novel means of transcribing the notes of a musical piece. Almost all mechanical pianos can be played like a regular piano. With the spread of the phonograph and tape recorder, mechanical pianos fell into disuse.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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