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Re-stringing the Paper: Conservation of Gliding Tones on Whistle, Notes on Recorders

Mon, August 01, 2022 12:57 PM | Anne Ocone (Administrator)

Gliding Tones on Whistle, Notes on Recorders, the free music machine in the collection at the Percy Grainger Home and Studio, was created by Percy Grainger with Burnett Cross in February of 1950. Few of Grainger’s experimental music machines exist; the Percy Grainger Society is fortunate that the object was saved.

Kept for many years in a storage room on the third floor, Gliding Tones on Whistle, Notes on Recorders was dusty and incomplete with pieces of wood and parts stored on the table top. When pulled out of the storage room, it was obvious that the existing paper roll was not strung through the machine correctly.  Additionally, two paper rolls must have been removed at some point.

The conservation treatment addressed both stability and aesthetic issues, so that Gliding Tones on Whistle, Notes on Recorders could be safely displayed as close to the original appearance as possible.  Placing the cut paper rolls back through the machine was just one element in a complex project.

Thankfully, there are period photographs of the object detailing the path of the 3 paper rolls through the machine, under the rolling pins and over the slide whistle and recorders. The additional paper rolls had been rolled up and stored with the object.  One of the challenges of the conservation project, after cleaning and repairs to the paper, was to re-string the cut paper rolls through the machine. Following below are a few images documenting the process as each paper roll is placed back through the machine as per period documentation.

The conservation of the free music machine was supported through the NYSCA/GHHN Conservation Treatment Grant Program administered by GHHN (Greater Hudson Heritage Network). This program is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.

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