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Re: [ARSCLIST] Aren't recordings original ..... Blah! NOT CABLES THIS TIME!

From: Patent Tactics, George Brock-Nannestad


under the ORIGINAL subject line Steven Barr wrote.

Sadly, virtually nothing is known about the construction details of the
apparatus on, AFAIK, ALL (or nearly so...?!) commercial acoustic
given the fact that the studios are all long since demolished (with few,
if any
notes taken prior thereto...?!)!

----- quite a lot is known; see below!

Also, in the cases (mainly Victor) where recording ledgers (1) still
and (2) make any mention of control settings...the information is
useless, since the numbers cited were on long-discarded knobs which
adjusted (usually) potentiometers, and the schematics for the
IF they ever existed...are probably long since discarded...?!

----- precisely my point, once you introduce arbitrary amplification one 
important aspect of music making - the level played at - gets undocumented. 

And Tom Fine commented:

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. 


One of my endeavours over the years has been to gather precisely this type of 
 information, and I have published a bit already:

I gave a presentation at the 1986 ARSC Convention in New York, in which I 
showed the development of the dimensions of VTMC recording locations in the 
acoustic period. This paper has not been published (I never found the time to 
develop it into a proper, academic paper), but some of its information was 
later expanded and given in e.g.:

Brock-Nannestad, George: "The Objective Basis for the
Production of High Quality Transfers from Pre-1925 Sound Recordings", AES 
Preprint No. 4610, 103nd Convention 1997 September 26-29, New York.
	(by tracing the recording, manipulation and manufacture of acoustical 
records present-day users are encouraged to use them properly. Very much 
archival material is quoted)

Brock-Nannestad, George: "Can You Retrieve the 
Original Studio Acoustics In Pre-1925 Recordings?", Proc. XII Colloquium 
Musical Informatics (Argentini, A. et Mirolo, C., Eds.), Gorizia 1998, pp. 
	(opens a discussion on the possibility of compensating early recordings to 
such a degree that a virtual 'presence in the studio' is obtained)

Brock-Nannestad, George: "Authenticity In the Reconstruction of Historical 
Disc Recording Sessions", AES Preprint No. 4829, 105th Convention 1998 
September 26-29, San Francisco.
	(reconstruction is an accepted approach for studying early procedures - the 
essential parameters and their permitted variations are discussed)

This latter paper, kindly read on my behalf by Greg Faris (then of the 
Bibliothéque Nationale in France) was based on my own experiments with 
acoustic recording using partly original, partly replica acoustic horns and 
original recording soundboxes. I had recorded an acoustic "salon music" trio 
using a Stroh violin and Stroh cello and an upright piano, and later I was 
engaged by a major record label to record their major artist acoustically, 
because he wanted to compare himself to Caruso.

Two of the papers are available from the AES (but the cost is prohibitive to 
those who use $1000 on a power cable).

I have to confess that in my above papers I did not bring the full 
information: amongst other things I removed the distances given on the 
drawings of VTMC recording setups. This was partly to retain some fields of 
research and publication for myself in a situation where I could not devote 
my full time to the project. Also, I have not given the measurements of all 
the horns and soundboxes I have been in contact with.

A lot of relevant information has been digested in Peter Copland's recently 
published handbook for the British Library, the entire chapter 12. His digest 
was written partly as a condensation of a running dialogue he and I had in 
the small, but essential journal called "The Historic Record". For many years 
there were only two persons engaged in this line of enquiry: Peter and 
myself. And I started in 1981, also writing in the Phonographic Bulletin in 
1983 (reference given by Peter).

Kind regards,


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