From: Patent Tactics, George Brock-Nannestad
Peter Copeland wrote
> I could write extensively on this subject, but will add four
> complicating factors I have found.
----- I think that I should add that I believe that the British scene may
have been worse than many others, recordingwise.
First of all, many more recordings than normally suspected were made at the
old Philharmonic pitch of a=452, rather than 439 (new Philharmonic pitch),
and the military bands were the last to let go, I believe in 1927. The
Gramophone Co. did not alter the pitch of the Mustel organ (a reed organ)
they had bought off the Southgate sisters until 1917. Now, there is an
interesting twist to that and to Columbia, because if you take a Columbia
recording recorded at old Philharmonic pitch at 80 rpm and reproduce it at 78
rpm, then you get new Philharmonic pitch, only slower.
The revision of the international standard pitch in 1939 only took place
after detailled study of actual performance: in the US as well as in Europe
laboratories were monitoring orchestra renditions on radio and noting that
they were much more likely to work at 440 than at 435. So, they made a
standard out of reality and everybody was happy for a time.
In France, the Paris opera orchestra as well as the Garde Republicaine band
were bound by decree (originating as an Imperial decree under Napoleon III)
that they should use 435 "double vibrations", and indeed, we find a happy lot
of Garde Republicaine recordings that demonstrate this a in a separate track
on Gramophone and Zonophone records. This is in contrast to Scandinavian
Pathé recordings on cylinder, where the c above a=435 was sounded.
> The wind instrument least affected is the oboe, since all the player's air
> is involved in making the tuning "A", which will be near normal human blood
> temperature. So that's why an orchestra uses an oboe for tuning.
----- I disagree, apart from the flute and the piccolo, all wind and brass
instruments use all the players' exhaust. The reason that an oboe is used is
that a modern oboe is a narrow-bore (almost cylindrical) instrument that
controls the pitch so well that differences in embouchure cannot pull it very
far away. A baroque oboe may be pulled a semitone without a change in tone
quality (by a good player!).
> Personally, I can't see anything wrong in altering the speed of an old
> recording; but when an analog recording is being digitised, I consider it
> vital to note the thought-processes which have been considered, so others know
> what has happened (and what hasn't).
----- I entirely agree, and in 1983 I devised (and manufactured) a 7" coarse
groove calibrating record that could be used in a transfer session to provide
a known frequency before and after the transfer. If any discussion were to
arise as to the correct speed (yes, I do use the S-word!), then the user of
the transferred copy could simply adjust the copy to taste (or based on
scientific evidence) and then measure the known frequency following the
transferred copy. The frequency (in cycles per second, the C-word, but we
also have the H-word) on the 7" record was 10 times the rpm, so that a simple
frequency counter would give the speed with one decimal that the original
record should have had, according to the user of the transferred copy. The
record was described in the Phonographic Bulletin in 1983, and I sold a total
of two to US archives!