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Re: [ARSCLIST] Recording Speed

Usually A=440. From 1916 on, certainly 440 in the US if newer musical instruments were used. The Navy recognized 440 that year, followed by the National Bureau of Standards then or the year following- I forget which. This may have been abetted by our impending entry into WWI. Years ago I gave an ARSC talk on this subject, not published.

Thus all US military and reserve bands were to use 440 and replace instruments if they were incapable of or, perhaps, awkward at, tuning to this A. The "Charles Ives" effect of bands playing at different pitches (his "Three Places in New England") may have been limited to amateur and municipal bands without funds to reequip themselves.

I'm convinced that this brought a bunch of older band instruments into the surplus market at much reduced prices. They may have gone to hock shops or been given to servants (in those days, many even lower class households had them.) I've long assumed the funky sound of some early jazz bands on record was a result of this technology transfer. I once mentioned this to Guther Schuller who disagreed, but I still think this aspect of musical history needs further exploring.

In the early 1960s I talked with a fellow at Steinway who tuned the pianos at the Victor Studios. He told me that he worked on pianos used at the time of Caruso's recording sessions to A=440. Caruso died in August, 1921 so that gives a "no later than" date.

Starr Piano Company didn't make Steinway-quality instruments but one assumes they took sufficient care with Gennetts to present their studio instruments in tune, seeing the records as, in part, a promotional tool. I have an H&D Gennett which advertises their pianos rather than records. I'm not sure at what pitch (from the pine) Wisconsin Chairs resonated to.

Steve Smolian

----- Original Message ----- From: "Don Chichester" <Dnjchi@xxxxxxx>
To: <ARSCLIST@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Tuesday, June 23, 2009 4:25 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Recording Speed

I have one of those 'dog whistles'. 8>) I guess I was referring to a reference tone, not a pilot tone. Tuning A. What was that frequency back in the 'teens? Don Chichester

In a message dated 6/23/2009 4:16:34 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
mbiel@xxxxxxxxx writes:

From: Don Chichester <Dnjchi@xxxxxxx>
Re: pilot tone. Is this what is  recorded on some Euopean acoustics
back in the early 'teens? If so,  what is their pitch?  Don Chichester

A pilot tone is recorded continuously with the entire recording from beginning to end. It is sent into a resolver which steadys it which will restore the recording to original pitch and undo any variations in speed that might have happened during recording. It will be either filtered out of the sound recording, or is recorded 2-track out-of-phase and will disappear when played with a full-track mono head. This allows the tape to be synced with the film which is assumed to run at a constant 24 frames per second. What you might be referring to is a reference tone like what I mentioned with the Sarasate records where a tuning A was played in a separate band at the end of the side. I don't know of any others -- maybe our European collectors do. Unless you are thinking about the high pitched chattering that sometimes is recorded on wax master discs that get too warm. Since these are heard especially on early Victor Orthophonics, they are often called "His Master's Dogwhistle".

Mike Biel mbiel@xxxxxxxxx

In a message dated 6/23/2009 2:58:27 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time, mbiel@xxxxxxxxx writes:

From: Doug Pomeroy <pomeroyaudio@xxxxxxx>
Thanks Mike.
I was  most confused by George's reference to "the counter", which
appeared  with no explanation that I could find.

It was hidden away a few sentences earlier, at the end of the second sentence of the part I'm reprinting below.

> The frequency of the calibration  track? It was calculated to be
> 10 times the rpm of the turntable,  in other words, at 78 rpm it
> gave out 780 Hz, suitable for a  frequency counter. In use of the
> tape as a secondary master, the  content could be de-chipmunked
> by changing the speed of the tape  recorder, and the tape rewound
> to the calibration track, which  was measured by the counter and
> would give the rpm of the  original record at the de-chipmunked speed.

It is much simpler than I thought. Doug

I believe as turntables with internal speed counters became more common, George backed away from mass producing the little calibration discs, but now more than ever with digitization of recordings being made without documentation of rotational speed, this would be a quick and easy way to supply a notation of rotational speed in just one extra step. If all records had been made with a reference tone like the Seresate records, things would be so much easier!

While we are on  the subject of using known frequency tones to determine
speed, the ARSC  presentation of the Early Sounds project explained that
Leon Scott's  Phonautograph continuously recorded a tuning fork tone
alongside of the  sound, which now enables the constant speed playback of
these hand-driven  pre-tinfoil recordings. This is now called the "Pilot
Tone" system, and is  still used to synchronize sproketless-analogue tape
sound with motion  picture film. I don't think this has ever been
discussed, but not only did  Leon Scott apparently invent sound
recording, he also apparently invented  the Pilot Tone speed resolution

Mike Biel mbiel@xxxxxxxxx

Date: Mon, 22 Jun 2009 11:23:26 -0700
From: Michael  Biel <mbiel@xxxxxxxxx>
Subject: Re: (Fwd) [ARSCLIST] Fwd:  Recording Speed

I understand what George is saying partially  because I've seen him
do it and I am lucky enough to have one of his  calibration discs.
In case Doug and others still do not understand it,  Doug's snip
cut out the important info and left in material that has  no
meaning without the snipped part.

In 1982 George commissioned a 7-inch pressing made of a 450 Hz. tone cut at 45.0 RPM. That disc can be played at any RPM and a frequency counter will show a reading that is 10 times that RPM. (Play it at 73.7
and it shows 737.0 Hz. 78.26 shows 782.6 Hz. Etc.) If you have a
frequency counter handy, you can find what rotational speed you are
using. BUT,
if you include a few seconds of that calibration disc  played on the
same turntable at the time of your transfer of the  record you are
working on, then later on that frequency can be read  with a counter and
at any
time you can establish the rotational speed you used. It's like an
strobe disc that has the  unique ability to be recorded, and it is as
accurate as your frequency  counter is. Sure, you could use a normal
test disc of, say, a 1000 Hz.  tone, but George's disc is more directly
readable without using math  to have to determine percentage of 1000
Hz. whatever tone you  used.

Mike Biel mbiel@xxxxxxxxx

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