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Re: [ARSCLIST] Aren't recordings original sources?

This point is very true. I like oral histories and first-person accounts (usually many years after the fact), but they are not The Final Word on anything. The simple fact is, what happened at any one time cannot be known. The participants begin and end with certain biases, knowledge and filters and interpret it differently as it happens. Then their memories get hold of all this and scramble it further, sometimes with many different versions emerging over a long life. And everyone has their own reality -- but that's a deep discussion for the philosophy list, not ARSC. So the best a person can do is talk to every first-person they can find, ask to see any documentation made at the event, read any reports of the events, especially notes or diaries of the first persons (see if the tale told 50 years later matches what was written at the time -- lots of times there are many mismatches). It's a process of triangulation but you can get into the "infield" of the ballpark of truth if you do it carefully and there are enough first-person accounts to be found.

As to Steven's point about the old acoustic studios, I am surprised there weren't first-person accounts taken while the recordists were still alive. Are you sure there's not old, forgotten oral histories or biographies with some technical details? It's probably about 50 years too late now, but did anyone track down these guys' papers after they died? Also, were these giant recording horns just built in someone's basement? If they were built by craftsmen, you'd think there were drawings made and specs written up so the craftsmen did the job right, to contract. If you think about the glorified "acoustic age" that many collectors refer to, the early jazz era, this was 30+ years into the age of recording and I'm surprised things weren't done more methodically, documented and logged and the like. Plus, weren't Brownie-type cameras cheap and plentiful by then?

-- Tom Fine

----- Original Message ----- From: "Steven C. Barr" <stevenc@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: <ARSCLIST@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Wednesday, October 15, 2008 11:14 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Aren't recordings original sources?

----- Original Message ----- From: "Tom Fine" <tflists@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Bottom line, it's nearly impossible to know beyond question the micro-details of anything you don't experience yourself. "History" below a pretty high macro-level is usually just a glorified mythology, a compromise of competing filters and interpretations.

Worse yet...as I have often seen occur, and even in the odd case done myself...one's
own memory is NOT an absolutely accurate information source...! We often "remember"
what we WISH had happened...or, equally likely, forget the entire incident and make up
a "nice"...but INaccurate...story of what happened when later asked about it! And we
shall here omit the many folks who "lie like a rug" for their own personal reasons...?!

Steven C. Barr

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