JOE Rinaudo designed this great instrument. It’s called the American Fotoplayer…..but just what is it?
The fotoplayer (“foto” from photoplay and “player” from player piano) is a wonderful contraption that was built to provide music and sound effects for silent movies. These machines appeared around 1912 and were used in medium sized theaters. Fotoplayers were in expensive to operate because you didn’t have to be a musician to play them as they were also playable by way of player piano rolls.
The fotoplayer used a fascinating combination of piano, organ pipes, drums, and various sound effects designed to narrate the action of any silent film.
Pedals, levers, switches, buttons, and pull cords were all used to turn on the xylophone, beat a drum, ring a bell, create the sound of thunder, or chirp like a bird.