[Dixielandjazz] Irving Berlin's piano

John Farrell stridepiano at tesco.net
Fri Dec 5 04:32:31 PST 2003

A friend of mine, Dennis Manser (now sadly deceased), used to own such a
piano which appeared to be a commercially manufactured instrument, not
home-made - a large handle underneath the keybed shifted the keyboard up to
three semitones left or right.

John Farrell

----- Original Message -----
From: <Adaywayne at aol.com>
To: <paul.edgerton at eds.com>; <dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com>
Sent: Friday, December 05, 2003 1:32 AM
Subject: Re: [Dixielandjazz] Irving Berlin's piano

> I was just passing on what I read, which was that he could play only in
> If you have a source for something different it would be interesting to
read it.
> As far as physically moving the keyboard up (or down) by half a tone (for
> example), would that really mean that the output would be totally correct
in the
> "new" key? That is simply a genuine question from a non-piano-playing
> who is looking at a piano keyboard and scratching his head as he moves
from one
> major chord to the next and tries to picture the spacial placement of the
> strings and their hammers..
> Arn
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> In a message dated 12/4/03 6:28:45 PM Eastern Standard Time,
> paul.edgerton at eds.com writes:
> I read somewhere that Irving Berlin preferred playing on the black keys,
> that doesn't mean he could only play in one key. Could it be significant
> that the black keys, by themselves, comprise a pentatonic scale?
> The mechanism to shift the piano keyboard already exists on grand pianos:
> the so-called "soft" pedal, which shifts the entire action to one side so
> that the hammers strike only one or two of the strings in each unison. It
> wouldn't be too difficult provide a pedal that shifts the action all the
> over to the next unison, thus transposing the keyboard by a half step.
> Whatever Irving Berlin lacked in keyboard proficiency, he certainly made
> for it in melodic sense.
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