June 10, 2003 Bellefontaine, Ohio

Mechanical Band Organs Too Loud?
Alternatives facilitated by MIDI Operation

(Submitted to Mechanical Music Digest On-Line Newsletter in response to a related discussion)

Bellefontaine Ohio USA June 10, 2003 - While it is the Stinson Band Organ Company's policy to not participate in on-line controversy, it seems appropriate to join in discussions that seem to be attracting so much attention and opinions with regard to loudness of band organs.

During times past, preferred band organs were designed to be purposefully loud to attract riders and guests to the carousel, or to any attraction the instrument might be used in conjunction with. When the Stinson Band Organ Company was born, nearly 40 years ago, the company subscribed to this trend for a time until we started to evaluate band organ applications. Recall, music rolls and books at the time had limited registration which restricted many abilities. During the early days, Stinson designed and built many so called Piano Forte organs which meant the instrument had only two volume levels, and limited variation in voices. These instruments were loud, and louder...

Today, Stinson band organ architecture and designs are dramatically different from when the company started up. Music is now arranged to allow for the use of proper registration, and to pick and choose different voices which were not available in the early North American band organs. Presently, when a Stinson music roll or MIDI tune within Stinson's tune library is registered, a particular voice is used for only a short time before changing to a different voice. Ability to turn off every rank of pipes in the melody section, and partial voices in the bass and counter melody, is incorporated.. On some larger Stinson band organs, accompaniment voices can be added when the organ is played in full voice. These variations improve listening quality of American and European arrangements that have been enhanced by Stinson when they are played on a standard 75 note scale Stinson Band Organ.

Utilization of Stinson's new MIDI Operating Systems has opened a whole new field of operation, especially for commercial applications. In addition to eliminating opportunities for roll frame mechanical failures to occur, plus negating opportunities for operators to mess with tempo and such, redundancy of tunes (6 to 12 tunes per paper roll), which is probably as annoying as loudness to carousel operators or those situated within close proximity of a band organ for many hours, can be eliminated. MIDI music media (diskettes) can be loaded with up to 70 tunes (depending upon the length of tunes to be played) and can be played in sequence, randomly, or selectively. Operators, riders, and guests alike can now enjoy a much wider selection of the "Happiest Music On Earth" without necessity and sometimes hassle to change paper rolls or books. Stinson's MIDI Library contains hundreds of enhanced tunes for 125, 150 and 165 formats.

Since 2001, New Stinson band organs incorporate a System Monitoring Panel that illustrates wind pressure, vacuum, line voltage, DC voltage for the MIDI device, and an hour meter, along with switches which allows operators the ability to turn off partial voices to reduce amplitude should this be desirable. Larger Stinson band organs allow for trumpets to be turned off with remaining voices carrying that section. Trombones, and forte pipes, can also be turned off with the same effect. As well, percussion can be diluted. This ability can, in some ways, take away from the music, but when dealing with indoor situations when carousel pavilions are not open to the outside there is now an alternative available to facilitate both employees and guests should it be desirable to reduce amplitude. Swell Shutters continue to be incorporated as standard equipment within Stinson's JB66M carousel band organs, and are an option on Stinson's Style 87M fairground organ design. Speaking specifically about the newly overhauled band organ at Ontario Beach Park - Rochester NY, a Stinson Monitoring Panel and Cut Out Switches were added when this band organ was updated and the Stinson MIDI Operating System was incorporated. It is not known if the switches are being used, but then again, operators require management's direction and guidance if abilities of new designs to resolve amplitude problems are to be effective.

Before the Stinson Band Organ Company came to life, I worked within some very loud environments to include machine shops and on the railroad. Some of the noise was very bothersome to me, but I was astutely aware it was my job, and the entrance door swung both ways if I complained. Wouldn't it be nice if we could again return to this way of respect whereby employers established direction, enforced same, and employees worked by management's policies and directives or found themselves on the outside looking for a new place to earn their daily living.

It is very disheartening to attempt your level best, and have situations arise which we seem to be facing today. Once an instrument leaves Stinson's facilities it is out of our hands. A bright spot illuminating from the issue at hand has been to listen to opinions from you fine people in the musical world. It now seems, I am not suffering similar frustrations alone.

In summary, The Stinson Band Organ Company is now building instruments voiced at lower pressure, voicing pipes slightly softer, changing voices every few bars of music, using smaller scale violin pipes, and incorporating many other designs not mentioned within this writing, all for the purpose of enhancing the listening pleasure of the general public. Stinson continues to build loud band organs upon request since there are applications whereby operators require higher amplitudes to accomplish results these instruments were purchased to do. An example is outdoor applications at fairground front gates and midways where ambient noise levels came be very high. It should be noted, there will always be special applications where it is sometimes wise to visit a location to check acoustics and settings before a band organ is designed. Stinson encourages buyers to solicit professional opinions regarding what might be the best instrumentation for a specific or unusual application and location. Every Stinson band organ is a custom origination. For those who seem shy about adding MIDI Operation to their vintage band organs, a Stinson MIDI Operating System is installed in such a manner as to not require removal of roll frame systems which allows for the MIDI system to be removed should there ever be the desire leaving transparent that it was ever installed.

I wish to thank with sincerity all the people who responded to the situation at Ontario Beach Park. Our pledge at the Stinson Band Organ company is and will always be to build the finest instrument with the proper volume level and pleasing voices for the buyer.

Donald Stinson
Stinson Band Organ Company

For more information please contact:

(937) 593-5709 Phone • (937) 593-5553 Fax

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