Fans of early American recordings get a chance to revisit the tunes of a bygone era every week on WFMU, courtesy of both the Antique Phonograph Music Program and Thomas Edison’s Attic, alternating with each other Tuesday nights from 7-8pm EST. The sounds of ragtime, Tin Pan Alley, vaudeville, 78 cylinders, and flapper music from the late 1800’s through the 1920’s are featured on both programs.
WFMU’s Studio B experienced a negative-106-year time/space glitch on June 14, when Rick Benjamin’s Paragon Ragtime Orchestra and acoustical recording expert Peter Dilg visited Jerry Fabris and the Thomas Edison’s Attic radio program. As the 11-piece orchestra played Scott Joplin tunes into Dilg’s 1899 wax cylinder phonograph, radio listeners heard an Edison-era recording session in progress. Click to listen to the archive of this program in Real Audio or MP3 stream, and check out the playlist for more info.
Before audio’s electronic age of recording with microphones and amplifiers, musicians played into acoustical horns, which funneled the air vibrations onto a small diaphragm pointed with a tiny sapphire knife. Sound pressure pushed the vibrating knife into the surface of a rotating wax recording blank, cutting a record groove.
If you’ve ever wondered about the distinctive sound of antique phonograph records, be sure to check out archives of Thomas Edison’s Attic and the Antique Phonograph Music Program. WFMU is now podcasting both of these programs, with XML feeds available here.