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THE ACOUSTIC PROCESS

In the acoustic process, the sheer energy from the sounds played or sung into the recording horn caused the diaphragm to vibrate which in turn caused the stylus to cut into the disc or cylinder.  The best early records were of such penetrating sounds as whistlers, military bands, and certain vocal and instrumental soloists.

A singer stood three to four inches from the horn and on high notes moved back, or was pushed back by the engineer, to minimize vibrations.  For the same reason, a handkerchief was often lowered in front of the horn when a cornet soloist, four to six feet away, hit high notes.  For accompaniments, the upright piano was elevated about three feet with its back as close to the horn as possible.

Orchestral groups crowded around the horn, with the louder brass players on bleachers at the rear.  Because stringed instruments didn't carry well, scores were often rearranged - bassoons substituting for cellos; tubas for double basses; and stroh "violins" for the higher strings.

Meeting the growing demand for recordings was a problem.  In the early 1890s, it was possible to duplicate cylinder recordings only by repeating the performance.  Even with three machines recording at a time, for instance, a singer had to repeat a single section 30 times to produce even ninety copies.  By 1902, however, Edison had begun to mass-produce molded cylinders.  Mass production was simpler for disc manufacturers:  Copies were easily stamped from a matrix made from the wax master.


1900s  / 1910s  / 1920s  / 1930s / 1940s
1950s / 1960s  / 1970s  / 1980s  / 1990s

www.southernmusic.net



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