The Music of Coinola “O-Roll” Automatic Instruments

“Listen to a selection of O-Roll music played on the Coinola SO – scroll down, click on any tune or sheet music cover”

The history of the development of Coinola machines and the O-Roll format can be found at . The O-roll was introduced in 1913. It features perforations for extra instruments plus a 24-note solo section for up to two added instruments such as orchestra bells, xylophone, violin pipes and/or flute pipes. The O-scale plays 78 piano notes including notes at both ends of the range not found in the other American formats that are important to jazz themes. Also the O-roll solo instruments (pipes, xylophone or bells) are connected to the highest 24 playing notes which leaves a good piano compass – almost 2 octaves above middle C – so that the piano plays accompaniment while the solo instrument(s) are turned on and the piano in the solo range is turned off.

The musical selection offered below was recorded on the largest Coinola ever made, the Coinola SO in the Rick Crandall collection. Its instrumentation consists of piano, mandolin effect, xylophone, open wooden flute pipes, metal violin pipes, bass drum, tympani, snare drum, cymbal, triangle, tambourine, Indian woodblock and a 15-inch Chinese crash cymbal.

The pump has a special “amplifier” pneumatic that raises the vacuum level and loudness of the percussion, especially effective with the crash cymbal. Two notes are appropriate about the setup of this particular machine. The wood block is set to operate with a single-stroke beater rather than a repeater. Also when the arrangement calls for pipes as the solo instrument, only the flutes play, whereas when xylophone and pipes are called for, the violins play with the flutes and xylophone so that the pipes can match the sound level of the percussive instrument.


Coinola SO exterior and interior views.
The following is a selection of O-Roll music listed with each tune’s composer, year of composition and the O-roll number and tune position.

The O-Rollography can be found at:; click on a tune name or sheet music image to play the tune.

QRS O-Rolls
O-Roll, Tune

Classic Rag, Neil Moret, 1909

Weary Blues, blues, Artie Matthews, 1915

Kansas City Blues, blues, Euday L. Bowman, 1915

Petticoat Lane, rag, Euday L. Bowman, 1915

American Patrol, march, Frank W. Meacham, 1885

The Stars and Stripes Forever, John Philips Sousa, 1896

For Me and My Gal, one step, George W. Meyer, 1917

The Chicken Walk, eccentric foxtrot, Tom Brown, 1917

Stray Bullets March, A. Herman, 1894

Hail, Hail, the Gang’s All Here, fox trot, Arthur Sullivan, 1917

The Hooking Cow Blues, W.C. Handy, 1917

Cleopatra (from “Sinbad”) fox trot, Harry Tierney, 1917


Star Spangled Banner, anthem, Francis Scott Key, 1814


Stamping the Blues Away, blues, Luckey Roberts



Louisville Lou, fox trot, Milton Ager, 1923

Suite 16 (That Sweet in Suite 16), FT, E. Schoebel, 1925

Unlucky in Love, fox trot, Irving Berlin, 1924

Collegiate, one step, Nat Bonx, 1925

Dizzy Fingers, one step, Zez Confrey, 1923

By the Waters of Minnetonka, OS, Thurlow Lieurance,1914

Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue, OS, Ray Henderson, 1925

Singin’ in the Rain, fox trot, Nacio Herb Brown, 1929


Way Down Yonder in New Orleans, FT, J. T. Layton 1922


Runnin’ Wild, fox trot, A. Harrington Gibbs, 1922

You Tell Her, I Stutter, one step, Cliff Friend, 1912


Yes Sir, That’s My Baby, fox trot, Walter Donaldson, 1925

Ain’t She Sweet, FT, Milton Ager, 1927

Close Fit Blues, blues, Clarence Williams, 1928

St. Louis Blues, blues, W.C. Handy, 1914

Lonesome Mama Blues, blues, Billie Brown, 1922