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Printing Street Organ Cards

User manual
by Alfred Meyer



This little manual complements the general user manual that you can access in HTML format via the documents index on our web site or read directly through clicking on the ?>Documentation... menu item in the program. It is designed for all those who use Harmony to create punched cards or rolls for street organs, player pianos, etc., and it gives a detailed example of the creation of street organ cards with the aid of Harmony.
If you only have an evaluation version of Harmony, you can still print one page to judge the results.

Harmony and organ cards

Until now, the preparation of street organ punched cards has been a long and tedious business. With Harmony, it has become child's play. This is the case for practically all types of organ card or piano roll. You can create your favorite tunes yourself using the mouse, the keyboard, or re-entry of notes from your synthesiser. The less musically inclined can use the midi demos provided with the program or import midi files from commercial CDs or floppies. Of course, these midi sequences must be tailored to match your instrument and to ensure that as few notes as possible are lost. Harmony contains all the tools necessary for this.

Launching the program

Installing Harmony on your computer creates shortcuts to the program and its documentation. In Windows choose Programs>Harmony Assistant from the Start Menu. On the Macintosh simply double click on the Harmony icon.
When the program opens you will see an empty document. We are going to load one of the demonstration tunes provided with Harmony.
An important bit of advice: keep an eye on the little yellow window - it gives you all sorts of information on whatever your mouse is pointing at.
Select File>Open. In the folder Harmony\Demos\Myriad, select the file NENES.MUS. The score for this piece will appear on screen. Listen to it by hitting the space bar on your keyboard. While you listen, I will carry on setting out the instructions for use. Are you still with me? 

Setting up your organ

Now it is necessary to adapt this music to your organ. For that, open the Score menu and choose Apply street organ filter.
This opens the Street organ setup dialog box in which you are going to define the setup options for an organ. If the one already selected is not yours, choose Load Organ.A number of pre-defined organs are available in the Harmony\Organs folder. Is yours there? If so, click on its name and confirm your choice. If not, click on Cancel and return to the select organ dialog.
The pipes listed in the Pipe definition table must correspond to the keys available on your instrument, and it may be necessary to modify them to ensure correct registration. Begin by clicking on the first line of the table. It will display in color: it is selected. Delete the contents of the little windows on the right (hit Del on the keyboard). Insert valid note information for your instrument (e.g. Note: D, Octave: 4). Confirm with the Apply button or by hitting carriage return. Move on to pipe 2 and repeat, etc... You may have fewer notes available than there are entries in the table. Remove the excess entries with the Delete button, having selected the superfluous note(s). If you have more notes, write in the extra ones and confirm with Insert. You can save the organ thus defined to a file by clicking on the Save Organ button.
From now on, Harmony knows the notes that can be used to make punched cards for your particular organ. Those that do not exist will be suppressed. Click OK to return to the staves.

Analysis of the music

Harmony analyses the notes present in the tune and identifies those that are not playable on the selected organ. A message tells you that, for example, 135 notes are going to be suppressed because they do not correspond to any key on your organ. It suggests that a shift (transposition) of -10 semitones would minimise the number of lost notes, reducing them to 78. Since you only wish to lose the minimum, do not confirm the elimination of 135 notes. Click No. To avoid unneccesary note loss we are going to transpose the whole score down 10 semitones.
Open the Edit menu and choose Select All. Your 2 staves turn green. Return to Edit and choose Shift. As the program has suggested a shift of -10 semitones, you should select One semitone down 10 times in succession. At each operation you will see all the notes shift down. You could equally, and more rapidly, click 10 times in succession on the transpose down icon in the Action tools palette.

Now return to Apply street organ filter (in the Score menu). There you will be asked if you are sure that this is the organ for which you want to apply the filter. Colorize the faulty notes. It will be easy to see them on score and then to shift them so that they match your organ range. Apply the organ filter when done.

Listening to the result

It is important to listen to the result to ensure that the suppression or shifting of notes is not too deleterious to the music.
To get closer to the sound produced by your organ, it is possible to change the instrument sound played by the program. For that, click on the instrument icon -- the little yellow and black box (it is a picture of piano keys) -- to the left of a staff. Select Pipe, then Ocarina. Depending on your midi instrument set(s), you may have other appropriate choices, e.g. street or barrel organs. Click on OK. You have now modified the sound of the staff. Do the same for the remaining staves.
In some pieces of music you will find drum sets or other percussion instruments, usually below the ordinary staves. Since these are not used, it is best to deal with them as soon as they are spotted. You need to go to the Document printing options dialogue box. If you are in the Street Organ Setup box you can (when you have finished setting up) click OK and then choose the Options button towards the bottom of the card preview screen that then appears. Alternatively, from the Harmony main screen select File>Print>Score and then the Options button from the bottom of the score printing preview screen. In either case, once you are in the Document printing options box click the printer icon to the left of the percussion staff. The icon disappears and the staff is deselected for printing, meaning that it will not be taken into account in the preparation of punched cards.
Likewise, you can adjust your score before the program tells you that such and such notes are going to be suppressed. If you already have experience with the notation for organs with 27 keys, you will know that the highest note is D in Octave 5. Thus you must transpose all the notes of all the staves sufficiently to ensure that the highest note is D 5. If you do not know the staves or octaves very well, select the tool representing a lasso around a note. If you position it over a note, the name and octave of the note will be displayed in the help line. It is evident that all staves should be transposed by the same number of semitones. A staff may, however, be transposed by a full octave (12 semitones) with respect to the others. This may be done if it is desired to fill out the card better. Do not forget that 2 identical notes will be superimposed when printing and so will be played only once by your organ.

Improving the result for your organ (optional)

Let us return to our NENES example. The tune sounds fine on your computer but is a bit "thin" on your mechanical instrument. We are going to enrich it, or fill it out. To do this, go to the Staff menu and choose Add staff.... You create an empty staff. Click on the clef of the existing treble staff. It will turn green. Go to Edit>Copy. Click next on the empty staff. Return to Edit and choose Paste. You now have 2 identical staves. Transpose one of them up or down an octave while remaining within the range of your organ. Similarly duplicate and transpose the bass staff. You will now find that you have twice as many notes as before, and a much fuller punched card. Do not forget to apply the street organ filter, because all the notes will not neccessarily be playable on your instrument.

Printing cards

You must first set up your printer. Choose File>Printer setup and specify paper type and size, orientation, print quality, etc.
Then choose File>Print>Street organ cards. You are back again in Street Organ Setup. It is now time to re-enter the print parameters. The notes are correct because they have already been confined to those available on your organ. Go to length of a card (Card Size:L). Enter 285 mm for A4 paper or 267 mm for US letter. The width (Card Size:H) should be set to that of your cards (e.g. 154 mm). The Card speed is always 60 mm per second. It is pointless to modify this unless you really want to feed your card faster or slower. The position of the centre line of the first perforation (First punch) and the distance between the perforations (Between punches) are the figures for the keys on your organ measured from centre line to centre line, from the reference edge (the supported edge of the card). The size of the perforations will depend on the size of your punch. Put the percentage at 100%. A lesser figure will make your perforations too small. The minimum distance between two perforations along the length of the card (Minimal space between two punches) should not be less than 2 mm or the card will tear. It only remains to check Draw card frame, Draw bars and Horizontal mirror. If you are printing rolls for pneumatic organ or piano, also check Circular punches. Once all the options are correctly set up, click OK.
You will see a preview of the card as it will be printed. If you are not happy with it, click Close and you will be returned to the organ setup.
If the preview is satisfactory, click Print all.
The printed sheets are trimmed and glued end to end. Then you need only attach the sheets to your blank card or roll and punch all the holes.
Have fun!

Continuous printing

Those with printers that use listing paper (continuous printing) must:

  • choose portrait orientation and, if necessary, set the correct paper width
  • uncheck Horizontal Mirror in the organ setup dialogue box
  • check Vertical Mirror in the organ setup dialogue box
  • set the length of the card (Card Size:L) to 0
  • in the printing Options, set all margins to zero and turn off headers and footers, since if any text whatsoever is set outside the area of the card there is a risk that the printer will skip a page or print a blank.


Before turning off your computer, be sure to register your organ's parameters with Save Organ. This will add your settings to the list of organs already contained in Harmony.
In the same vein, consider saving any music files that you have modified under a different name: it might be useful to you one day to be able to summon them up to print a card or two.
You are advised to keep a backup copy of the files you create on a floppy, just in case...

You can send all queries to the email address ; the program's authors will personally reply to you.

A.MEYER , WITTISHEIM 67, March1999
(Version of 15 March 1999, revised July 2001)

(c) Myriad - All rights reserved