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August 12, 1877

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  • August 12, 1877

    Its been nearly 137 years since the first audio recording was made. Few into recording even Honor the man who invented the phonograph and did that recording, yet honor men like Les Paul far above him. Over all that time, have we seen 137 years in improvement in technology or artistry in recording? There have been many substitutes as the technology changes but even those changes have been resisted.

    Guitarists still love their tube amps and passive pickups. Vocalists still prize their vintage mics and preamps. Drummers still use drum technology that dates back to the jungles when man stuck animal skins over hollow logs. Using something like a Laser to read the strings and using fiber optic cables would likely produce higher fidelity, but you don't see anyone using that technology to any great degree. You could easily send multiple string or mic signals through an optical cable and it would be cheaper then using copper to manufacturer. The artistry has changed but many in the industry still think vintage is better.

    Much of it is of course but you can easily blame that on stagnation. Even when I was a kid, a used 60's Gibson could be bought for $50~150. Most would prefer to buy something new over someone's beat up leftovers (at least till they found the quality wasn't any better or even worse)

    The only thing I can think of that really made people think "ahead" instead of "backwards" Dealt with historic events. WWII was over and we well well into the cold war. That forced people to focus more on the "Here and Now" more then ever before. The Vietnam brought fear into kids heads with the Draft and then with the Space Race which forced people to look ahead towards the future and things were so bright they had to wear shades.

    Old was cool but it didn't compare to what might be coming up next. Sure people stand in line for the latest cellphone, but cell phones have been around a long time now. You would think with a stagnant economy people would seek escape similar to how they did back during the great depression. Film, radio music grew rapidly during those years.

    I wonder if people are just resigned to this is as good as life will ever be for them or are they just sitting around waiting for someone else to put the efforts into creating the next big thing so they can piggy back a ride like they have in the past. Have no real answers here just reflecting on the moods of the hundreds of people I meet every week.
    Last edited by WRGKMC; 06-17-2014, 01:44 PM.

  • #2
    "Mary had a little lamb" was the first thing ever recorded - by anyone. Edison definitely deserves credit for the invention of audio recording and the phonograph. However, I don't think that takes anything away from others who made significant contributions to audio recording technology and the application of that technology, including Les Paul, Bill Putnam, Alan Blumlein, etc. etc.
    **********

    "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."

    - George Carlin

    "It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."

    - Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears

    "The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."

    - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

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    • #3
      I'm in no hurry. It takes a long to time to assimilate technology in such a way that you have the skill to use the technology like a tool. All we seem to talk about is the battle between real, human productions of art, and faked-up, emulated-up technological productions of art. People are even envisioning some future where the robots make "real" art.

      I'd rather technology in the long run made people better at doing human stuff rather than machines doing better at imitating and then supplanting human stuff. I don't what life is all about if it's not about making healthier, happier, stronger, wiser, more fulfilled people. The progress of technology? I can take it or leave it, depending on whether it serves people well or not - it's meaningless to me as an end in itself.

      nat whilk ii

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      • #4
        I don't think it has as much to do with "new" or "vintage" as it does with the intended use. Recording technology is all about trying to reproduce other, already existing sounds. So it only makes sense that the preferences would be towards technology that reproduces sound in the most realistic manner possible. Electric guitars sound like they sound, each to themselves and separate from any sound that existed previously. So it makes sense that, at least some people, would prefer "vintage" sounds over what newer technologies might be able to create.


        But had the purpose of the invention of the electric guitar been to recreate the sound of an acoustic guitar as much as possible (or if that purpose hadn't been abandoned early on if that was the original purpose?), those prized vintage guitars would likely be as desirable today as is recording on a wax cylinder.
        Last edited by guido61; 06-18-2014, 01:15 PM.
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        • #5
          Originally posted by Phil O'Keefe View Post
          "Mary had a little lamb" was the first thing ever recorded - by anyone. Edison definitely deserves credit for the invention of audio recording and the phonograph. However, I don't think that takes anything away from others who made significant contributions to audio recording technology and the application of that technology, including Les Paul, Bill Putnam, Alan Blumlein, etc. etc.
          First played back...

          ... but not first recorded.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phonaut...covered_sounds

          http://www.usnews.com/science/articl...dings-revealed

          (I'm guessing that it's the recovered audio clip marked "Fly, Little Bee" in that US News article that was later discovered to have been "Au clair de la lune" but it's hard to say from this.)
          .

          music and social links | recent listening

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          • #6
             
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            • #7
              Originally posted by blue2blue View Post
              First played back...

              ... but not first recorded.
              Filed under the "If a tree falls in the woods..." department?

              I wonder if any sounds have been preserved in ancient amber that are waiting to be "played back"?
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              https://www.gigmasters.com/Rock/Jump-Start
              https://www.facebook.com/JumpStartYourParty
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              • #8
                Do you remember that hoax that was going around the internet a long time ago about a 5000 year old recording caught on pottery?

                http://www.ohgizmo.com/2006/02/20/50...ht-on-pottery/
                Ken Lee on 500px / Ken's Photo Store / Ken Lee Photography Facebook Website / Blueberry Buddha Studios / Ajanta Palace Houseboat - Kashmir / Hotel Green View - Kashmir / Eleven Shadows website / Ken Lee Photography Blog / Akai 12-track tape transfers / MY NEW ALBUM! The Mercury Seven

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by UstadKhanAli View Post
                  Do you remember that hoax that was going around the internet a long time ago about a 5000 year old recording caught on pottery?

                  http://www.ohgizmo.com/2006/02/20/50...ht-on-pottery/
                  I'm glad to be reminded it was a hoax... It's like the social psychologists say, first in, most believed... I remembered the original story but not the spoiler.
                  Last edited by blue2blue; 06-18-2014, 08:10 PM.
                  .

                  music and social links | recent listening

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by blue2blue View Post
                    First played back...

                    ... but not first recorded.

                    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phonaut...covered_sounds

                    http://www.usnews.com/science/articl...dings-revealed

                    (I'm guessing that it's the recovered audio clip marked "Fly, Little Bee" in that US News article that was later discovered to have been "Au clair de la lune" but it's hard to say from this.)
                    I suppose the methods inventors used haven't changed that much over the years. Those who were into making inventions were also keeping tabs on what all the other inventors of their time were working on just like they do today. If you were going to file a patent, you'd have to research the other patents already on file to be sure what you apply for hasn't had a patent applied for already. Edison may have visited the French patent office and saw that design and took it in a new direction.

                    He did the same thing with photographic film, taking ideas from others, made major improvements, then made it marketable. This is the way technology has improved over the years and is still going on today. Edison made the light bulb. Another guy added a plate and grid and turned that bulb into a vacuum tube Diode or Tetrode and was able to convert ac to dc and amplify a signal. Then they found they could do the same thing with transistors all the tube technology moved to semiconductors, then IC's. Parallel to that you had mechanical and electromechanical methods of computing replaced by vacuum tubes, then semiconductors, then IC's, which gave birth to the computers we use today.

                    You could say Edison was one of the most important contributors to modern electronics and computers just by the invention of the light bulb.

                    Both music and technology (and most all professions) is built by those who stand upon the shoulders of those who came before you. Its for the next guy who takes that baton and carries it to the next runner in the human race.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by blue2blue View Post
                      First played back...

                      ... but not first recorded.

                      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phonaut...covered_sounds

                      http://www.usnews.com/science/articl...dings-revealed

                      (I'm guessing that it's the recovered audio clip marked "Fly, Little Bee" in that US News article that was later discovered to have been "Au clair de la lune" but it's hard to say from this.)
                      I've heard a bit about Phonautographs previously, but that was a cool refresher. It's very interesting that they were able to finally play those back, even if the creator of the "recordings" never intended or imagined that they'd be used for that purpose someday.
                      **********

                      "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."

                      - George Carlin

                      "It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."

                      - Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears

                      "The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."

                      - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

                      Comment









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