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ARSCLIST  February 2005

ARSCLIST February 2005

Subject:

Re: A scenario for bequests

From:

Mike Richter <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 25 Feb 2005 14:50:02 -0800

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (77 lines)

At 11:47 AM 2/25/2005 -0800, Mark Takasugi wrote:

>What I was hoping to point up was the fact that there
>must be many
>recordings out there languishing, as I found them, in
>basements and storage
>rooms in all sorts of places, because of lack of
>resources, interest, etc.,
>that if brought to the attention of collectors and
>enthusiasts, might
>actually be put in hands of those who could actually
>do something with them,
>even if it's to file away in their own collections.

Once again, hundreds of lines of prior posts left intact though not
relevant. Please trim the excess.

But Mark's point is well made in my opinion. There are problems with the
approach as outlined: how is that central store identified and what can in
practice be done with the collection as amassed.

1. I learned that a devoted fan of the Metropolitan Opera was trying to
amass as nearly a complete collection of their performances (broadcast and
otherwise) as possible. His hope is to find a way to make them accessible
to others; to date, no mechanism has been found and the opera company has
made clear that they would object strongly to any move in that direction. I
sent him my own collection - forty-plus years of broadcast tapes and
assorted materials bought and traded from more or less legal sources.

2. I am deluged with offers of material from those who spent decades
collecting and now wish to share it. I've been able to help some organize
WWW sites; to use other material for my own site, inspiring interest among
people who then can work with the donors; and to exploit both materials and
the donors' assistance to produce CD-ROMs for distribution. In cases such
as the Bulgarian discs, my colleague spent hundreds of hours and travelled
often to Bulgaria to get access to recordings, to obtain permissions and to
resolve the many issues that arose.

3. The work involved in "doing something" with the materials is far greater
than that in accumulating them. That fact is difficult to communicate to
collectors, though no doubt it is well understood here. Also apparent, I'm
certain, is that doing the wrong thing - using an obsolete or impractical
cataloguing scheme, for example - can defeat the purpose.

4. We must remember that we are dealing with a monotonically decreasing
supply of information. That is, not only are the recordings gradually
disappearing, but we are losing primary sources - those involved in
creating the works and the recordings - and in many cases secondary ones -
their descendants, friends and colleagues. Similarly, primary and secondary
documentation is lost or discarded. I suggest that the need is not only to
preserve that material but to make those who have such sources or who are
such sources aware of the need for preservation and of the availability of
help in that preservation. A friend was a composer who taught in Los
Angeles from well before it became a haven for the likes of Schoenberg and
Stravinsky. He knew them well and regaled us with tales of the musical
community in that era and of other communities earlier (he had supered for
Mary Garden's Chicago opera, for example). But he could not be persuaded to
record his recollections in any form and when he passed away at age 93, we
lost the opportunity to access that source. He was sure no one would be
interested.

All too often, the passing of a collector means the dispersal or discard of
the collection; unless care is taken beforehand, the correlations and
documentation that represent much of the value is lost. I suppose I'm
pleading for a central registry of collections so that one could easily
find for any special interest where to turn for what has been amassed, what
is documented and what may be accepted under what conditions. Even in
classical recording where early documentation is relatively extensive,
repositories are not generally known or widely accessible. It is one thing
for Historic Masters to publish Fonotipia logs and quite another to know
where to turn for validation or exemplars.

Mike
--
[log in to unmask]
http://www.mrichter.com/

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