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

I can see all this being true. I think there was an era of audio guys -- the guys who came up either in the WWII/Korea military or who started out in major broadcast operations -- who were taught from the get-go to follow science-oriented procedures (as opposed to guesswork and gut feelings) and to keep decent notes so the process was repeatable. It's entirely possible that the earlier guys were making it up as they went along and were under deadline and budget pressure to boot so never considered detailed notes and documentation. But, again, it seems like you'd need a skilled craftsman to execute those recording horn systems and I am surprised if no drawings exist.

-- Tom Fine

----- Original Message ----- From: "Steven C. Barr" <stevenc@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: <ARSCLIST@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Thursday, October 16, 2008 11:17 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Aren't recordings original sources?

----- Original Message ----- From: "Tom Fine" <tflists@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
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?

Yes...photographs do exist, but they were mostly intended as pictures of the
ARTISTS, not the recording equipment (which is usually partially visible, and
in the background...?!). As well, there were probably plans made...but I would
guess most of those are long since discarded, as they became useless once the
rooms/horns/usw. were completed...?! There MAY be details for Edison's
"giant" (150' or so) horn...since it was one of the inventor's many experiments...
in fact, the Edison memorabilia might offer data on the regular recording horns
as well...?

As well, the schematics and details of virtually all the early electric recording
equipment...and, in fact, such of the later equipment that was custom-built by
factory engineers as opposed to off-the-shelf commercial gear...are very
unlikely to exist today...?!

Consider that the folks involved with making records...in ANY capacity...
would be extremely surprised to find out (should they ever return, that is...?!)
that folks like us are trying to chase down EVERY detail of those records;
after all, records...ESPECIALLY "popular records"...were considered
expendable items, with a limited "shelf life," and were essentially deemed
useless once their "hit" status faded into the past...!

I don't recall the chap's identity any more...but I DO recall being told,
when I asked a musician about a session about three or four decades
past..."Oh, hell, I don't remember all that <stuff>...we never knew
anybody would ever want to know about it!"

Steven C. Barr

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