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  • Deagan "Roundtop" Orchestra Bells

    by Rhythm Scene Staff | Mar 09, 2020

    Deagan Roundtop

    Deagan No. 1228, Roundtop Orchestra Bells in flat case. 

    Deagan Roundtop 2

    The performer’s side of the instrument, showing the convex shape (both top and bottom) of the bars, as well as a sturdy leather handle with which to carry the instrument when the lid was attached. 

    Donated by Carroll Bratman 1993-01-11 

    Manufactured during the early decades of the 20th Century, the J. C. Deagan Company’s “Roundtop” Orchestra Bells are considered the highest quality glockenspiels, or orchestra bells, manufactured. Constructed from the best steel available at that time, the instruments produce a long, sustaining tone with brilliant, penetrating dynamic contrast. The solid oak cases and quality of workmanship have allowed many of the instruments to continue in use to the present day. 

    Deagan’s Catalog “D” (ca. 1914) boasted that the “Roundtop” Orchestra Bells “have the best tone of any Bell in the world, and are very much easier to play than Flat Top Bells, owing to the fact that the top being slightly convexed, the full tone of the Bell is produced whether the Bell is struck at an angle or struck squarely, while the Flat Top Bells it is necessary to strike the Bell absolutely square in order to produce the full rich tone of the Bell. Owing to the peculiar shape of the Roundtop Orchestra Bell, all counter-harmonies or overtones are entirely eliminated, and when the Bell is struck nothing but the pure fundamental tone is heard. Owning to the fact that the tops of the Roundtop Bells are slightly convexed, there is no flat surface to reflect the light in the operator’s eyes; a fault so common in Flat Top Bells. As the underside of the Roundtop Orchestra Bells are convexed, there is less surface of the Bells to come in contact with the supporting felt, thus leaving the Bell more free to vibrate.” 

    The bars were triple plated to prevent rust, and came in four sizes: 7/8 x 3/8 inch, 1 x 7/16 inch, 1 1/4 x 7/16 inch, and 1 1/2 by 1/2 inch. Each size of bar was available in 2-, 2 1/2-, or 3-octave ranges. They were available in either folding cases or in solid “flat” cases.

    This instrument is Model No. 1228, a 25-bar, 2-octave (C to C) instrument. The bars are 1 1/4 x 7/16 inch in size, mounted in a flat case. The case measures 18 5/8 inches at its widest end and is 25 inches long. The list price in 1914 was $40.00. 

    Deagan Roundtop Detail

    Detail showing the lowest natural bars. Note the pitch “C” stamped “Deagan Roundtop.” 

  • Haskell Harr's Xylophone

    by Rhythm Scene Staff | Feb 10, 2020

    Harr Xylophone

    Made by the Leedy Drum Company, circa 1927
    Donated by James Cantley

    PAS Hall of Fame member Haskell Harr may be best remembered as the author of popular elementary drum methods, but he was also an active performer and educator throughout his long career.

    Harr began playing music at the age of 13 and was soon working with local bands and combos. He formed The Haskell Novelty Trio with a saxophonist and pianist, and the group performed frequently on radio and in the theaters. A Chicago area reviewer described Harr as “a wizard on the xylophone,” comparing his playing to “George Hamilton Green, Homer Chaffee, Frisco, Shutts, and all the leading exponents of this instrument.”

    This xylophone is a “Green Brothers Special” model manufactured by the Leedy Drum Company. Harr purchased the instrument around 1927 and kept it for most of his professional career.

    In 1933 Harr played at the Chicago World’s Fair, where he accompanied the famous Sally Rand during her “fan dance.” At the end of each performance, Rand would wave to the audience from the stage curtain, where she would lean on Harr’s xylophone. Harr had placed a small towel on this spot so the dancer wouldn’t get chilled, and she responded with an autograph, “Hurrah for Mr. Harr, and my ‘back-up’ xylophone.”

  • The King George Marimba

    by Rhythm Scene Staff | Jan 13, 2020

    King George Marimba

    Donated by Carroll Bratman

    In 1934, Clair Omar Musser began to organize his 100-piece marimba ensemble known as the International Marimba Symphony Orchestra (IMSO). Musser coordinated all activities of the ensemble, including auditioning the players, arranging the music, and designing the unique King George marimba, which was built by the J. C. Deagan company expressly for the IMSO. 
    Only 102 King George marimbas were built: 100 for each member of the orchestra, one for Musser himself, and one as a spare. The marimbas were also personalized for the performers. Each was adjusted to the height of the individual player and each featured the name of the member engraved on the gold British coat-of-arms on the front of the instrument.
    The PAS marimba is number 97 of the 102 instruments made. The range is four octaves from F (below middle C) to f4. It has brass end posts, and the brass resonators have three height adjustments for adapting the instrument to different temperatures.

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