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Topic 5: Sound Recording Origins

by: Destiny Giebe

Topic 5: Sound Recording Origins MC 101-740

Destiny Giebe
GPA 3.0

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About this Document

Objectives to come...
Mass Comm & Society
Frederick Christopher Jones
Study Guide
mass communication, Jouanlism, Graphic Design
50 ?




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Popular in Journalism and Mass Communications

This 4 page Study Guide was uploaded by Destiny Giebe on Monday February 22, 2016. The Study Guide belongs to MC 101-740 at Southeast Missouri State University taught by Frederick Christopher Jones in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 24 views. For similar materials see Mass Comm & Society in Journalism and Mass Communications at Southeast Missouri State University.


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Date Created: 02/22/16
Sound Recording: Origins   People  started  experimenting  with  sound  recording  in  the  mid -­‐ 19th  century,  but  they  struggled  to  get  it  right.    One  French   inventor,  Leon  Scott  de  Martinville,  made  a  sound  recorder   using  a  piece  of  hog’s  hair  as  a  recording  needle.    I  just  wonder   how  many  other  types  of  animal  hair  he  used  before  he  settled   on  the  hog.    Anyway,  he  could  make  a  sound  recording  but   he   never  figured  out  how  to  make  the  sound  play  back.    I  doubt   many  people  lined  up  to  buy  that  invention.     EARLY INVENTORS Thomas  Edison  built  the  first  practical  sound  recorder  and   player,  the  phonograph,  in  1877.    His  phonograph  recorded   sound  on  a  wax  cylinder,  which  was  rotated  against  a   needle.    The  grooves  in  the  cylinder  caused  vibrations  in  the   needle,  producing  sound.    This  sound  was  then  amplified  by  a   cone-­‐shaped  horn.    However,  Thomas  Edison  didn’t  initially   envision  the  phonograph  as  a  device  for  playing  music.    He   thought  it  would  be  used  in  offices,  either  as  an  answering   machine  or  a  dictating  machine.     Ten  years  later,  Emile  Berliner  made  a  major  breakthrough  in   sound  recording.    His  1887  invention,  the  gramophone,  played   flat  records  on  a  turntable  that  more  closely  resembled  the   modern  record  players.    These  flat  records  were  the  primary   reason  why  sound  recording  developed  as  a  medium  for   music.    These  records  could  easily  be  mass-­‐produced  -­‐  Edison's   cylinders  could  only  be  produced  a  few  at  a  time.    So  if  a  singer   had  a  million-­‐selling  phonograph  cylinder,  they  would  have  to   perform  the  song  250,000  times!     This  Edison  phonograph   Album  covers  sure  have   The  original  gramophone,   from  1896  played  music   changed.  Listen  to  an  excerinvented  by  Emile   recorded  on  wax  cylinders.  from  an  early  phonograph   Berliner.    Click  on  the  image   recording.   for  a  larger  picture.     SOUND RECORDING INNOVATIONS   There  were  still  imperfections  with  these  early  record  players,   which  were  slowly  worked  out  over  the  next  half -­‐century.    One   major  improvement  was  the  introduction  of   electric  record   players.    Old  record  players  had  to  be  hand -­‐cranked  -­‐  so  if  you   wanted  to  listen  to  your  favo rite  Hank  Williams  album  all  day,   your  arm  would  get  quite  a  workout.     Record  companies  also  made  the  shift  to   33  1/3  and  45  rpm   records.    Old  records  used  to  play  at  78  revolutions  per   minute.    Because  these  records  spun  so  fast,  you  could  only  fit   3  or  4  minutes  of  music  on  each  side.    Long  musical  works  -­‐  like   a  Beethoven  symphony  -­‐  would  need  about  a  dozen  records  to   cover  the  entire  piece.    The  slower  playing  33  1/3  records   (called  "LPs"  for  "long-­‐playing")  fixed  this  problem,  allowing   over  20  minutes  of  music  on  each  side.     The  next  major  advance  in  sound  recording  was   audiotape.    Audiotape  had  an  enormous  impact  on  the   industry  -­‐  both  artistically  and  economically.    Three  of  the   primary  benefits  were:     • Sound  editing   • Multi-­‐track  mixing   • Audio  cassettes     Artists  that  recorded  on  records  couldn't  edit  their  music,   which  meant  they  had  to  settle  for  their  best  single   take.    Audiotape  could  be  cut  and  spliced  back  together,  which   allowed  the  artists  to  cut  together  pieces  from  their  best   performances.    Performances  and  songs  could  also  be  altered   all  together,  giving  musicians  more  freedom.     Artists  had  other  musical  limitations  in  the  old  days.    They  had   to  record  their  music  onto  a  single  source,  which  caused  a  host   of  problems.    Let’s  say  the  voice  was  recorded  too  softly  on  the   recorded  song.    If  you  tried  to  raise  the  level  of  the  voice,   everything  else  would  get  louder  as  well.    Multi-­‐  track  mixing   solved  this  problem.    Today,  producers  can  isolate  every  sound   source  -­‐  controlling  the  volume  and  sound  quality  for  each.     Audio  cassettes  opened  up  new  markets  to  the  sound   recording  industry.    Because  of  their  small  size,  tape  players   could  be  placed  in  your  car  (imagine  trying  to  stick  a  record   player  in  your  dash).    Portable  tape  players  became  popular,   and  all  of  the  coolest  guys  in  the  1980s  walked  down  the  street   with  a  boom  box  on  their  shoulder  (okay,  I  take  that   back...nobody  was  cool  in  the  1980s).    Some  people  felt  that   audio  cassettes  would  replace  traditional  records   -­‐  but  that   didn't  happen.    Of  course,  something  else  came  along  that  did.     Compact  discs  were  born  in  1970,  with  the  advent  of   digital   sound  recording.    With  this  process,  music  is  converted  into   binary  code  -­‐  which  is  essentially  just  a  bunch  of  1s  and   0s.    This  code  is  stored  on  a  disc,  which  can  be  read  by  a  laser   beam  and  converted  back  into  music.   It  took  several  years  for  CDs  to  reach  the  marketplace,  which   was  unfortunate,  because  I  was  forced  to  spend  most  of  my   childhood  listening  to  those  idiotic  8-­‐track  cartridges.      CDs   started  hitting  stores  in  1983  and  in  four  short  years,  CD  sales   had  already  doubled  album  sales.    By  the  early  1990s,  albums   were  basically  off  the  market.     Of  course  today,  CDs  are  being  replaced  by  digital  music   files.    Digital  music  files  like  MP3  are  the  most  popular  format,   because  they  are  easily  accessed  on  the  Internet  and  then   transferred  to  an  MP3  player  (such  as  an  iPod).    Plus,  it  is  really   easy  to  download  songs  for  free  -­‐  but  crackdowns  by  the   Recording  Industry  Association  of  America  have  convinced   more  music  lovers  to  go  legit.           Music  producers  often  use  audio  mixers  with  Inside  the  control  room  of  a  recording   more  than  100  tracks   -­‐  allowing  much  morestudio.    Check  out  one  of  the  coolest  studios   creative  control.   in  the  world  -­‐  Abbey  Road.  


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