I'm afraid this issue is more serious that Mike suggests.
Classical 78 sets and some doulble-sided pop selections have link-up
problems at the side joins when pitches differ. Tapes made on Ampex 300 and
350 transports which used large reels were different speeds as the weight
shifted from one side to the other. I've been jarred by splices made from
different takes recorded at different ends of the reel and spliced together.
I hear very clearly differences in vocal timbre when the speed is wrong. The
percentage difference seems to vary from voice to voice, spoken or sung.
Students of historical records should be given access to materials as
accurate as we can make them if they are to draw accurate conclusions from
what they hear. It's a duty we owe the original performers.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Mike Richter" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Friday, August 22, 2003 10:42 AM
Subject: Re:[ARSCLIST] speed policies 
> At 11:39 AM 8/22/2003 +0100, Copeland, Peter wrote:
> >Dear All,
> > Here in Britain the frequency of tuning A was standardised at 440Hz
> >temperature of 20 Celsius in 1939, but before that it had been A=435 "at
> >degrees Farenheit".
> Permit me to point out that a semitone change in pitch is very nearly 6%
> change in frequency. The differences discussed here are in general of the
> order of a quarter of a semitone - an error in absolute pitch recognizable
> to a very few listeners and insufficient to alter the perceived timbre of
> an instrument or a voice.
> A second factor which may be of interest in this context is that studies
> the pitch of baroque and older organs indicate that pitch varied widely
> with the region of Europe, but on the whole was rather close to A=440 for
> the past two or three centuries.
> I do not mean to suggest that it is irrelevant how the recording is
> pitched; only that one may try to "sweat the small stuff" beyond the point
> at which it makes sense. On many of the recordings with which I work,
> is not constant across the disc. That introduces problems of relative
> on which there is far greater sensitivity than absolute.
> Since I am not a professional in archiving, I have not maintained
> references on the organ studies. One can easily compute the approximate
> relationship between speed and frequency by remembering that an octave is
> factor of two and that it contains twelve nominally equal steps. (May I
> also ask that we not get into issues of tuning and temperament?)
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