Restoration

National Jukebox at the Library of Congress

Photo: Library of Congress from the Making of slideshow The soundtrack of our grandparents’ and great-grandparents’ generation is now on the web in a large (and growing) collection called The National Jukebox, located at www.loc.gov/jukebox. The first phase of the historic audio recordings range from turn of the 20th century to 1929, and range from music (Jazz, opera, vaudville, ) and spoken word of all kinds.

The collection was digitized from 78 rpm recordings of the Victor label of records. Sony owns the license to the collection, but made an arrangement with the Library of Congress for people to listen to them. (You can hear, you can share, you can make playlists, but you cannot download the music)

It’s the iTunes of Retro Music.

Crossword Puzzle Blues:  Duncan Sisters (1924)
Darn these words that crossword puzzle me
I’ll be basking [?] till they muzzle me
Some demented nut invented
this way to stay discontented.

(The Duncan Sisters also performed Um-um-da-da. Can’t play the embedded song? Permalink on National Jukebox site)

   


Back in the day between ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on May 12, 2011 in • AudioCool WebsiteHistoryMemorabiliaRestoration
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Restored Reel-to-Reel Tape Decks as Art.

image A Gallery of Custom Tape Decks, wherein Jeff Jacobs restores old audio technology as art, via BoingBoing Gadgets. I love the meta-line here. Jacobs restores tape decks, which I think of as tools for restoring (and digitizing) audio. If tape decks are art, then there’s a ton of art at Richard Hess’s audio tape restoration studio! In decades to come, when those machines grow ever scarcer, the BoingBoing post points to another source to find those long-obsolete tape decks of the world: the personal collections of geeks.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on February 12, 2009 in • AudioAudio: HardwareLongevityMemorabiliaRestoration
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Grammy goes to math-expert audio restorer

The recording was a bootlegged Woodie Guthrie live concert. 1949. Original format is something called a wire recording – which predates widespread use of the magnetic tape recorder. Getting a 50+ year old format to playback while making a recording off it was quite an effort. The Woody Guthrie Live Wire album won a Grammy was for “Best Historical Album” – the mathematics involved was to use ambient noise in the recording to re-set the tempo after portions were stretched and broken.

Shortly after September 11, 2001, a small, heavy package wrapped in brown paper arrived in the mail at the Woody Guthrie Archives in New York City. Inside was a mess of wires.

Guthrie’s daughter Nora eventually figured out that the suspicious package wasn’t a bomb, but rather a recording of her father on a device that predated magnetic tape. After a year of searching, she managed to track down someone with the equipment to play it.

What she finally heard was a bootleg recording of her father singing a live performance in 1949. It was the first time she had ever heard him perform in front of a live audience. He had developed Huntington’s chorea and stopped performing when she was a ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on February 13, 2008 in • AudioRestoration
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Thoughts from the Jamboree of last weekend

I spent three days at a table showing off digital recording tools to passers by at the Southern California Genealogy Society Jamboree and Resources Expo (which I’m calling Genealogy Expo for short) last weekend. Here’s a recap of conversational snippets and observations from the Jamboree, along with follow-up of discussions at my booth.

imageFor people who have recordings that they made already—how to get them from tape (cassette, reel-to-reel, microcassette) and into digital form: I talked to many people who’ve already done recordings that they have on cassette or even micro-cassette. Which reminds me, I want to get some resources for digitizing reel to reel tapes (one person said they have the tape, but not the recorder/player) and another who’s working off the original microcassette to transcribe the interview. I told the person to minimize wear and tear on the actual tape and get it transferred to digital format ASAP, and then do the fast forward and rewind on the digital version. The digital file won’t stretch, snap ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on June 15, 2007 in • Do it: Hiring HelpDo it: YourselfGenealogyRestoration
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An IV bag, tubing, piano felt, windsheld wipers and tape deck

Or… why you take your old tapes to the pros. Marie O’Connell guest writes at Richard Hess’s Tape Restoration blog on audio tape restoration. Restoration Tips & Notes | Wet playing of reel tapes with Loss of Lubricant. This is one about what to do when tapes don’t respond to baking. Bizarre? Well, yeah, sorta. It’s the arcane art of audio tape restoration. The description alone made me want to stand and cheer at the sheer ingenuity.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on March 27, 2006 in • Restoration
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