Mac (of the Antique Phonograph Music Program) checks in with another great blog topic:
Being a collector of disc and cylinders that are more than 100 years old, I know that these recordings are fantastic to find and listen to, yet not that exceedingly uncommon. I have found them and other collectors I know will come across them from time to time. The big advantage that the cylinder player had was always its ability to record as well as play back sound. I am surprised that more of these recordings don’t surface because it is FUN to record and play back your own recordings. At least it used to be. As a child, I have early memories of a Webcor reel to reel machine that the family owned and we would bring out from time to time during festive gatherings. I would find time alone or with friends or siblings to record TV shows, our voices talking or acting or even my aunt snoring. It was great fun to do. Before this, folks used home record making machines or wire recorders to capture local sounds. I am a BIG fan of these obsolete media formats and find myself now doing transfers for people around the country. I have heard hundreds of these personal recordings at this point of everything from babies cooing to confessions of love to families whooping it up at a gathering. TOO MANY to remember! When I get feedback from those who I have done these transfers for, hearing the recordings of dead family members will often bring tears to the eyes of those who knew them and astonishment from those who did not. There have been some excellent compilations of these personal recordings and they seem to be a growing area of interest. Some academic institutions have created spoken word archives of people and events for posterity. Who better to convey history than those who lived it?
I wondered two things recently; Where are MY old recordings and is anyone doing this anymore? From a short informal poll, the answer to the latter question seems to be not that much. The magic of an instant recording and playback seems to lose its appeal in the digital format. Perhaps THE MACHINE has something to do with it? Then began the search for the answer to the former question. I have begun DIGGING in my own personal archives for my own lost sounds. I still have many of the reels from the machine I mentioned earlier and transferring them is a project I have yet to tackle.
Here is one snippet from one of my first band rehearsals. Let’s call the song “Stairway to Nowhere" (MP3)...
I KNOW I have other recordings buried and will find them. It seems the longer you wait to hear them, the more precious they are. Meaningful to ONLY a few. I asked WFMU staff if they had any archival recordings to share.
Dave Perlis of Night People wrote…
an original composition from the mid-80's entitled: Five Alive. If not my earliest recording, it's damn
close to it.”
Rebecca Lewis stated…
“During the 40s my mom and some (mostly if not all now dead) relatives
recorded a get together during Christmas. They talked a bit and sang a
song or two. They recorded it on vinyl. (Maybe they went to a record store
you could record yourself.)”
Vicki of People Like Us sent this sing-along classic…
“I've got rather a lot of cassettes of singing, plays - here's one, "Vicki Bennett & Pearl Frost - Venus and Mars/Rock Show - 1977"
Henry Lowengard writes…
"I was a big home taper in the late 60s / early 70s: making radio plays (heavily influenced by the Firesign Theatre) and taping temporary oscillators made out of Radio Shack parts. Some have made it to digital format, or at least K7. They are mostly up in my attic with my old Sony open reel deck. Here's a new year's snippet (MP3) taped off the radio.
also was perhaps the first person to play Edison Voicewriter dictation disks on
the air at WBAI... I found the device in a Salvation Army - originally it was
from Hunter College or CUNY I think. I also have a demo disk from the late 50s ( I think) of my great grandmother
at some charity affair at a Connecticut community theatre house. Just a minute
Robin Edgerton writes…
“i have a cassette somewhere of my sister and I singing "The Unicorn Song" ...i think i'm about 4 or 5 and my sis is about 8. It was converted to cassette at some point from reel-to-reel. We didn't have a cassette player when i was lil'.” not digitized.
on it Robin!
Diane Kamikaze wrote…
“I am pretty sure I still have a cassette of me trying to sound like a wailing trumpet to one of my dad's jazz records probably when I was 8 or 9. Which was, uh, about 20 years ago, I guess... I do have cassettes of my grandfather's voice which I've kept over the years, thanks for the reminder - should digitize that one!”
Irene Trudel wrote…
“While rearranging my cassettes recently (an archiving project waiting to happen!) I came across a recording my parents made of my high school marching band playing the theme from Hogan's Heroes. Of course, the cassette shell fell apart in my hands. I hope I can make it play again. It's pretty bad.”
Get on it
Dave the Spazz wrote…
“Here's a record I made when in London in 1974 at Battersea Park. It was one of those record-a-record booths and as far as I can tell it's the last time I ever sang on key (I was 12 and my voice hadn't changed yet). It ends with my older brother making a reference to a particularly stupid episode of Adam-12.”
at least one staffer continues to do this. Perhaps it is a function of
“yes, i record gems such as this."
OK folks, your turn. Can we hear YOURS now please?