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Re: [ARSCLIST] The development of recording technology

While conducting some of my graduate work at the Smithsonian Folkways, I first became aware of Moses Asch, the creator of Folkways Records. Under Asch's enthusiastic and dedicated direction, Folkways sought to record and document the entire world of sound. Between 1948 and Asch's death, Folkways' tiny staff released 2,168 albums. Topics included traditional, ethnic, and contemporary music from around the world; poetry, spoken word, and instructional recordings in numerous languages; and documentary recordings of individuals, communities, current events, and natural sounds. 

As one of the first record companies to offer albums of "world music,"  and as an early exponent of the singers and songwriters who formed the core of the American folk music revival (including such giants as Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, and Lead Belly), Asch's Folkways grew to become one of the most influential record companies in the world. 

To read more about the history of Folkways Records check out: http://www.greenmanreview.com/asch.html 

Lance Watsky
Preservation & Media Specialist
The Georgia Archives
5800 Jonesboro Road
Morrow, GA 30260
678-364-3764 (phone)
678-364-3860 (fax)

-----Original Message-----
From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
[mailto:ARSCLIST@xxxxxxx]On Behalf Of Steven C. Barr
Sent: Friday, October 15, 2004 11:37 AM
To: ARSCLIST@xxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] The development of recording technology

----- Original Message -----
From: "Rob Sevier" <roughrob@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: <ARSCLIST@xxxxxxxxxxxx>

> Esteemed archivists,
> Since many of the folks on this list seem to have been around awhile, I
> wanted to see if I could get some insight into a period before my time.
> what I know about the history of the industry, sometime in the late
> there was an explosion of independent record labels. Perhaps this
> happened earlier, I'm not sure. But there must have been a development in
> technology that made recording music more democratic. Some transition from
> the point when studio technicians wore lab coats and were highly skilled,
> the point when any entrepreneur seemed to be able to set up a recording
> studio in his basement. What were these technological developments? I'm
> curious about companies, makes and models of equipment, if possible.
> Additionally, were there also developments in the technology of pressing
> vinyl that made it more democratic? It seems like these two events
> around the same time, and allowed for an incredible upswing in output by
> tiny little homegrown labels. Any thoughts?
> Thanks as always.
Actually, the first explosion of indie labels started around 1940, but was
interrupted by WWII and the AFM ban, so it began again around 1944 and
really took off once the war was ended and shortages dtsappeared. In 1935,
there were three companies making records...Victor, ARC and Decca; by
1946 there were hundreds of labels. This was partly due to improved
technology and patent expiry...but was mainly due to the opening of
custom recording studios and pressing facilities which worked on
contract, so "Joe Gabroni" could get his band recorded at a studio,
take the resulting master on a lacquer or, slightly later on tape,
and have a hundred (or more) pressed on his own label.

Not being a collector of LP's or 45's, I don't know if there was
another "boom" in the late sixties (does anybody have the figures?).
If so, one reason might be the beginning of cassette technology
(they were cheaper to run off in quantity than vinyl discs) and
the availability of hime-use multi-track recordeds such as Fostex,
Another reason might be the change in society that occurred at
that time, which meant a lot more young people wanted to start
rock bands...and, naturally, record themselves or get recorded
so they could sell their product (often from the stage).

In fact, digital sound has created a third boom...today, anyone
with a computer, a "CD burner" and a decent tape of their work can
turn out CD's (actually CD-R's) that look and play just like the
"real thing!" They can then sell them over the Internet and hope
they get customers.

Steven C. Barr

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