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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!

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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Austin Museum Curates Sound Preservation Devices

Preserving Sound

If you love listening to recorded music, you'll love this......

Technology is what really drives the music industry, it always has and probably that's the way it will remain for generations to come.  From wax cylinders to today's modern compact discs, it's technology that has allowed us to enjoy not only our music but spoken word recordings as well.  So who came up with this idea in the first place and how did it evolve into what it is today?  Those questions and others as well are the questions that the Museum of Magnetic Sound Recordings in Austin, Texas seeks to answer and share with the world.

I remember when four track tape players for cars were introduced, why it was like having an LP in your car, you just simply had to have one.  Home reel to reel tape machines had been hot just prior to the beginning of that era.  My Uncle used to set a reel to reel up at our family holiday get togethers.  He got the biggest charge out of recording the extended family. Then the next time we would all be together we would get to hear his previous holiday recording.  You could actually experience the thrill of hearing yourself on tape back then. I remember that my Uncle and his wife would put ground beef into a frying pan and squeeze it with a metal spatula in an attempt to create a sizzling sound effect.  They would do the same thing with various kinds of crinkly sounding wrapping paper too.  They would record little skits and as kids we would marvel at the story line over and over again.  Perhaps you have a fond memory such as this as well?  Plus, I might add, who wasn't listening to the pre-recorded love songs of the greats back then?  Playing back recorded sound has been the rage since its inception.

I recently met with Martin Theophilus at The Texas Recording Academy of Texas meeting in Austin. Martin curates the physical donations that are provided to the museum and writes about them on the organization's web site.  The goal is to create a permanent music museum in Austin for the vintage collection. You too can be a part of this endeavor to preserve historic sound equipment if you have either a monetary or physical donation you might like to share with the museum.  Plus volunteers are welcomed too.  In addition to preserving the physical devices the Museum is also documenting the persons who created and use the technology, including conducting  personal interviews.  Some very notable recording artists have stopped by and enjoyed it so much that they donated their personal recording equipment from years gone by.  Recently Ray Benson, the famed artist and producer, (Asleep at the Wheel) did just that in fact.  You can read about it on the museum's web site.  Take a trip down memory lane and perhaps even learn a thing or two that may surprise you by going to the museum's web site.  Enjoy!

Here's an example of a four track cartridge tape that was the hot ticket in the late 60's.  It's listed on Collector's Frenzy for $180.27 (US).  Imagine that - $180.27 in today's money.  Just makes you want to go look at your old collection and see what you have stored away.  Four track tape players for automobiles went out of style almost as fast as they came in by the way.  They were replaced with a newer technology, the eight track player, and yes we all had to have one......

You can still find these cartridges on eBay. They're called wax cylinders. The horizontal black cylinder you see in the photo is what the sound was stored on.  The title of the contents were were on the side lip.

This is an example of what the professionals used prior to digital recording devices.  In the famed documentary "Sound City" artist after artist raves about the sound that the huge mixing board and recording device was able to capture.  No pro tools back then, just a good eye and ear for splicing is what was required.

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