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[ARSCLIST] International re-recording standards
From: Patent Tactics, George Brock-Nannestad
I happened to distribute an input to a bibliography not only to the IASA TC
but to the whole IASA membership as well. However, it is a thing that
regularly surfaces in ARSClist, and I thought that the annotated
contributions from myself over the years, put in an historical context, might
be of interest. Hence I copy part of my contribution here.
[Brock-Nannestad 1981a] Brock-Nannestad, George: "Zur Entwicklung einer
Quellenkritik bei Schallplattenaufnahmen", 'MUSICA',Vol. 35, No. 1, pp. 76-81
(Provides for the first time ever a framework for systematic source
criticism regarding sound recordings in order that the artefact - the record
- may be used both as a musicological source and as a source to the recording
technology used. The fact is stressed that multiloop feedback is an integral
part of the process of creating the record)
----- this was used as a basis for:
[Brock-Nannestad 1981b] Brock-Nannestad, George: "Letter to the Editor",
'Phonographic Bulletin' No. 30, pp. 45-49 (July, 1981).
(Based upon the concepts of source criticism the greatest care is urged in
the creation of standards for the archival transfer of early recordings)
----- this was of course in response to William D.Storm's ideas relating to
international re-recording standards (Phonographic Bulletin No. 27 (1980),
pp. 5-12) that was also published in ARSC Journal vol. 15 (1983), pp. 26-37.
I returned to the problem later (see below). Furthermore, here I was the
first to introduce the concept of a "flat" re-recording for archival purposes
as opposed to the interpretative versions discussed by Storm.
----- I created an innovative coarse groove test record (the first in 25
[Brock-Nannestad 1982] Brock-Nannestad, George: "An Aid to Calibrated Re-
Recording", 'Phonographic Bulletin' No. 32, p. 53 (March, 1982).
(describes briefly a special gramophone record which I have devised for
----- in Washington, D.C., in 1983 I became a member of the IASA-TC and
[Brock-Nannestad 1983] Brock-Nannestad, George: "Horn Resonances in the
Acoustico-Mechanical Recording Process and the Measurement and Elimination in
the Replay Situation", 'Phonographic Bulletin' No. 38, pp. 39-43 (March,
(describes the influence of the recording horn on the recorded sound, and
how to compensate for it)
----- and I got in touch with ARSC (the Association for Recorded Sound
Collections). In the mid 1980s I was the only non-US member of the ARSC-AAA
working group meeting in the US that collaborated on the huge report "Audio
Preservation - A Planning Study" (ARSC/AAA 1988), where I contributed
Appendices under TAB D, Appendix IIC4 in the final report. These are still
worth reading, because for the first time they provided an index of types of
sound carrier and the physical phenomena relied on in their creation. Also,
the philosophical basis for audio preservation was defined here.
----- I participated in part of the 1987 JTS in Berlin, and my contribution
was later published as:
[Brock-Nannestad 1989a] Brock-Nannestad, George: "A Comment on 'Ethics of
Restoration', FIAF-FIAT Joint Technical Symposium, Berlin 22 May 1987",
'Phonographic Bulletin' No. 54, pp. 38-40 (July 1989).
(stresses responsibilities of the researcher when regarded as an authority)
[Brock-Nannestad 1989b] Brock-Nannestad, George: "A Comment and Further
Recommendations on "International Rerecording Standards"", 'ARSC Journal',
Vol. 20, No. 2, pp. 156-161 (Fall 1989).
(discusses the basic requirements for repeatable re-recording in a
tutorial style and defines calibration signals) - this had already been
published as a manuscript in the ARSC/AAA report
----- and I contributed the following at the JTS in Ottawa:
[Brock-Nannestad 1990] Brock-Nannestad, George: "A Knowledge of the Content
of Material as a Pre-Condition for Restoration", 'Proceedings of the Joint
Technical Symposium IASA-FIAF-FIAT Ottawa May 1990', Milton Keynes 1992, pp.
(distinguishes between "recording as was" and "sound as was" and gives a
survey of known noise reducing techniques)
----- in 1991 came Dietrich Schueller's paper in the AES Journal "The Ethics
of Preservation, Restoration, and Re-Issues of Historical Sound Recordings"
(JAES vol. 39, pp. 1014-1016) that for some reason (possibly because
Schueller was not involved with ARSC) did not quote any of the above
contributions. It is a paper that turns out to deal mainly with distribution
versions and does not discuss ethics at all. I later had occasion to further
criticize it for its unidirectional perception of the process of creating a
recording, disregarding the element of feed-back.
----- some of my best contributions have been reviews and letters to the
Editor, probably because the short form requires a very concise manner of
[Brock-Nannestad 1993] Brock-Nannestad, George: "Review of 'Michael Hauser:
Traditional Greenlandic Music, Copenhagen 1992', 'IASA Journal' No. 1, pp.
89-92 (May 1993).
(a major contribution to source criticism relating to ethnographic
recordings when subjected to a number of re-recordings)
----- in 1993 Roy Edmondson started the broader work that led to his
"Audiovisual Archiving: Philosophy and Principles", (UNESCO Paris 1998,
2004). Needless to say, my above contributions go unmentioned, but then not
even IASA is mentioned in the Glossary and Index. This is a work that audio-
wise is in dire need of discussion on a philosophical basis.
[Brock-Nannestad 1994] Brock-Nannestad, George: "Methods for non-
destructive/non-invasive identification of sound recordings", 'IASA Journal'
No. 3, pp. 56-59 (May 1994).
(precise identification is a prerequisite to decide whether at all and how
to proceed with restoration)
[Brock-Nannestad 1995] Brock-Nannestad, George: "The Digtal Termites OR How
Our Heritage Is Eroded Bit by Bit", 'IASA Journal' No. 5, pp. 75-78 (May
(sounds a profound warning against relying only on transnational databases
for long-term preservation of cultural goods)
----- and I returned to the subject in:
[Brock-Nannestad 1999] Brock-Nannestad, George: "Comment on 'Frank Rainer
Huck Der Ewige Datensatz oder: Löst Digitalisierung wirklch alle
Archivprobleme'", 'IASA Journal' No. 4, pp. 69-70 (December 1999).
(the information content of journals and sound recordings are considered in
the light of Operational Conservation Theory and the responsibility of
----- 1997 seems to have been a particularly prolific year:
[Brock-Nannestad 1997a] Brock-Nannestad, George: "Traceability,
Reproducibility, Compatibility - Quality Control Elements in Audio
Information Transfer", AES Preprint No. 4615, 103nd Convention 1997 September
26-29, New York.
(the Deliberate Rosetta Tone is introduced in order to overcome problems of
[Brock-Nannestad 1997b] Brock-Nannestad, George: "Applying the Concept of
Operational Conservation Theory to Problems of Audio Restoration and
Archiving Practice", AES Preprint No. 4612, 103nd Convention 1997 September
26-29, New York.
(the concept is introduced as unifying approaches in Conservation Theory in
order to evaluate proposed preservation policies)
[Brock-Nannestad 1997c] Brock-Nannestad, George: "The Objective Basis for the
Production of High Quality Transfers from Pre-1925 Sound Recordings", AES
Preprint No. 4610, 103nd Convention 1997 September 26-29, New York.
(by tracing the recording, manipulation and manufacture of acoustical
records present-day users are encouraged to use them properly. Very much
archival material is quoted)
[Brock-Nannestad 1997d] Brock-Nannestad, George: "Comment on 'Peter Copeland
Equalisation of BBC Disc Recordings'", 'IASA Journal' No. 10, pp. 77-81
(it is shown how a Systems Approach reveals that the simplistic proposals in
the paper commented on lead to erroneous results when early BBC records are
used today) - this was followed up, because Peter Copeland replied:
[Brock-Nannestad 1998a] Brock-Nannestad, George: "Further comment on 'Peter
Copeland Equalisation of BBC Disc Recordings'", 'IASA Journal' No. 11, pp.
71-72 (June 1998).
(questions the value of uncalibrated transfer when corrections are not
performed during primary transfer)
----- it is clear that by now I had defined a certain philosophical approach
and was consistently applying it, and I am here only making reference to
papers with a predominantly technical content:
[Brock-Nannestad 1998b] Brock-Nannestad, George: "'The Requestor Decides' -
the Fundamental Ethical Issues When Dealing With Sound Recordings", Proc. XII
Colloquium Musical Informatics (Argentini, A. et Mirolo, C., Eds.), Gorizia
1998, pp. 159-162.
(the result of a transfer will not be an absolute truth but will depend on
the purpose for which a particular transfer has been made - the ethics are
[Brock-Nannestad 1998c] Brock-Nannestad, George: "Can You Retrieve the
Original Studio Acoustics In Pre-1925 Recordings?", Proc. XII Colloquium
Musical Informatics (Argentini, A. et Mirolo, C., Eds.), Gorizia 1998, pp.
(opens a discussion on the possibility of compensating early recordings to
such a degree that a virtual 'presence in the studio' is obtained)
[Brock-Nannestad 2000] Brock-Nannestad, George: "The Calibration of Audio
Replay Equipment for Mechanical Records", Proceedings of Joint Technical
Symposium Paris 2000, Eds. M. Aubert, R. Billeaud, 20-22 January 2000, pp.
(an historical overview of calibration by means of a mechanical calibration
signal, and a discussion of calibration discs, cylinders, and of a novel
multi-tone initiative within the Audio Engineering Society)
[Brock-Nannestad 2001a] Brock-Nannestad, George: "Pre- and De-Emphasis - A
Forgotten Necessity", AES Preprint No. 5360, 110th Convention 2001 May 12-15,
(an historical overview of standard compensations introduced in the
recording-reproducing chain and the arguments used over time, ending with
total resignation on the part of a standards body)
[Brock-Nannestad 2001b] Brock-Nannestad, George: "The Attraction of Optical
Replay of Mechanical Recordings", Proceedings of AES 20th Int. Conf.
'Archiving, Restoration, and New Methods of Recording', Eds. Z. Vajda, H.
Pichler, Budapest 5-7 October 2001, pp. 157-161.
(optical replay is attractive because it is non-invasive in principle. The
development of truly optical and semi-optical replay is traced and
[Brock-Nannestad 2001c] Brock-Nannestad, George: "What Are the Sources of the
Noises We Remove?" Proceedings of AES 20th Int. Conf. 'Archiving,
Restoration, and New Methods of Recording', Eds. Z. Vajda, H. Pichler,
Budapest 5-7 October 2001, pp. 175-182.
(identifying the mechanism responsible for generating the noise is a pre-
requisite for responsible noise removal. Removing certain noises also removes
traces of signal, which might have been useful for source-critical work)
The above 22 publications (and my contribution to the ARSC-AAA report) are
only part of my output, however they are most pertinent to responsible
handling of in particular historical sound recordings.