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Re: [ARSCLIST] Aren't recordings original sources?
From: Patent Tactics, George Brock-Nannestad
I usually get all ARSCLIST messages double and have to delete half of them.
The text below did not even arrive once, so I repeat it:
being the one having introduced the concept "source criticism" regarding
sound recordings way back in 1981, I have a comment, based on research:
an acoustic record actually has the potential of giving a truer account of
many of the features of the sound that was available in the recording venue
than electric recordings. This is provided 1) you know (possibly have
available) the precise recording apparatus (horn, conduit, soundbox, stylus
shank, characteristics of the original recording material) and 2) the groove
has not been modified or the recording re-recorded.
Then you are able to document even the absolute sound level of the sound
pressure used for recording. The spatial distribution of e.g. a mouth as a
sound source combined with the horn as a receiver will tell you something
about the distance. Any amplification means tampering with the level, and I
have not heard about any electric recording, where the level was fixed
beforehand (calibrated) and nothing tampered with (some experimental records
may have this feature, though).
Hermann Scherchen's wartime broadcasts in Switzerland went out with no gain
riding and no individual balancing: he had found a concert hall setup in which
his orchestra sounded just as he wanted on the radio; the musicians just took
their seats and played according to his direction.
A sound recording, irrespective of tampering, is a source and may be analysed
to determine if the features one wishes to retrieve are sufficiently
uninfluenced by any processing. Digitizing throws away many of the available
features (a lot being fixed in/on the original carrier as ancillary or
secondary information), and for this reason any digital version is a poorer
source. Its usefulness must be viewed in the light of the survivability of
the original, however, and the original's possibility of being played at
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Marie O'Connell" <azile50@xxxxxxxxx>
> > Another twist to this is the actual transcript of a sound recording.
> > Having
> > worked on hundreds of Civil Rights oral histories whilst working in the
> > South, I found that often the transcribers put a completely different
> > emphasis on statements and words, which in turn gave what you were
> > a
> > completely different meaning. It wasn't until I was reading the
> > transcript
> > AND preserving the audio that I was able to put my finger on it.
> > Ofcourse,
> > I made notes clarifying this.
> > In several instances there was one interviewer I recall who actually
> > added,
> > he did the transcribing aswell, complete questions and changed the
> > of the 'talent' for purposes unknown! I found this unacceptable. I
> > believe
> > these transcripts were originally made where perhaps it was thought that
> > no
> > one would listen to the actual recording 30 years down the track.
> > Therefore, who DO you believe? If someone has only researched the
> > transcript, then, in my experience, I would only find it more
> > if
> > the audio had been listened to in tandem.
> > My 6 cents worth.
> But...ever since magnetic tape became a standard recording medium...there
> is NO practical way to be ABSOLUTELY sure that the recording to which
> one is listening is an ABSOLUTELY accurate representation of the event
> which was (in theory) recorded...! The only sure way to know this is for
> one NEVER to have had the recording out of one's physical posession...?!
> As well...unless a sound recording (1) was properly made, and (2) is
> being played back on a high-quality machine...there will ALWAYS be
> places where two listeners CAN...and WILL...disagree as to what
> was actually said and recorded...!
> OTOH, though...Wikipedia having comcerns about accuracy is
> something like Smith & Wesson having concerns about the murder
> Steven C. Barr
------- End of forwarded message -------