From: David Seubert <[log in to unmask]>
> James, George Dick et al.
> Thanks for your help here. Every company is different, but I'm
> always skeptical that I'm misinterpreting the data if I find
> too many alternate takes (except Edison). Above about 10% in
> a given run of 78s
Perhaps it would make more sense to bring this up on the 78-L where
there are far more 78 experts than on ARSCList, but I find nothing
strange in higher percentages of alternate takes on acoustical records.
All the early century records that stayed in the catalog had alternate
takes, and even in the post WW I years some labels like Columbia might
have 20% of their sides with alternate takes. Sometimes three different
takes. It wasn't just Edison.
And I am appalled that classical collectors and archives do not
routinely check multiple classical sets for alternate takes. I find
them all the time on both Victor and Columbia classicals. (Some of you
might remember that I discovered a forged sheet in the Rachmaninoff
artist file at BMG which re-designated alternate takes as the approved M
master takes on 9 of the 10 sides of his Rach 2 to hide the usage of
secondary takes for decades, including all the microgroove issues.)
> like Emerson where I don't know the system used for designating
> takes, I usually question if what I think are take numbers are
> stamper numbers or something.
> I've never really relied on aural comparison (though it is obvious in
> some cases.) I don't trust my ears enough to detect the often slight
> variations between takes.
Surprising statement. I have no problem in many cases, and if there are
any doubts it is easy to simultaneously play both records. Every
collector I know does it. I just spent the weekend with jazz collectors
who can identify a trumpet player in a 12 piece band and identify three
alternates of some pieces,
> In the acoustic era it's not exactly like different versions of
> The Dead doing Dark Star (though many would say these all
> sound the same too, I suppose), but aural memory is notoriously
You ARE kidding, of course. Aren't you? You're not?? You don't hear
differences in jazz solos? In inflections of voice even in regular pop
records? Timings of instrument or vocal entries? Emphasis of one
instrument over another of a note here and there? All the collectors I
know can. My aural memory is notoriously reliable. I've spotted
alternate takes in records I am familiar with but might not have heard
in years. I was just tonight watching the LaserDisc of The Court
Jester, and was listening to hear if the soundtrack songs were the same
as on the Decca LP -- and I spotted where there was a deviation. I've
spotted the change in the syncronization of the train bells in different
pressings of the Original Cast of The Music Man. I hear these
difference in acoustical recordings as well as any other kind of record.
My VISUAL memory is not as good, and I know that many people have very
good visual memories but lousy aural memories. People's brains are just
wired differently. But it IS possible for some people, many people, to
spot alternate takes easily.
> My method is usually to lay the edge of a piece of paper across the
> center hole of the disc and mark the beginning and end of the grooves.
> Then I lay this paper on the other disc and see if they match. Even if
> one take is only a few seconds shorter or longer it will be obviously
> different as even a couple of grooves difference is noticable.
My method -- and the method of every other collector I know -- is to
play the records, simultaneously if necessary. Often time two takes
will have the exact same time but still sound different. If the takes
ARE a few seconds shorter or longer the sound of the recordings will be
MORE obviously different. Different copies might have different groove
lengths because the engineer might have run the machine longer before or
after the recording. And of course this doesn't work for Pathe family
discs since all are dubs. The take indication for Pathe's is the letter
above the dash because the number after the dash is more of an
indication of transfer dub number. And I can think of many other cases
where this doesn't work when some blank grooving can be shaved away,
either because of extra blank grooving, or else they are adding a
> I'm sure George's method works too, but the paper and pencil method
> is very quick and we are essentially measuring the same thing in
> different ways. David
No, we are measuring the sound, the differences in the sound. There are
too many flaws in your method. Your method does not take into account
alternate takes of exactly the same time length but yet are different.
Mike Biel [log in to unmask]
On Jun 19, 2009, at 11:15 AM, James L Wolf wrote:
> I've worked a lot with Emersons in the LOC's collection, and while
> we don't have many duplicates of the same record so that I could
> aurally compare different takes, I did notice that the matrix
> information (e.g. 3391-1) was usually matched by the known
> discographical information. Which, of course, only means that
> previous discographers have taken that matrix info to be take-number
> information, but that may count for something.
> Furthermore, for the acoustic era I don't see anything odd about one
> copy have 2 first takes and another having a second/third takes.
> I've seen similar situations on many labels in the acoustic era;
> Victor, Columbia, Edison, etc.
> Until something definitive comes along saying otherwise, I think it
> would be safest to assume that the matrix information refers to the
> take number.
>>>> David Seubert <[log in to unmask]> 6/19/2009 1:42 PM >>>
> I'm de-duping a stack of 9" Emerson discs and in the dead wax there is
> what appears to be a matrix followed by a take number. However, there
> are too many different take numbers for me to believe they are take
> numbers. For example, I have one copy of #9118 with 3391-1/3397-1 and
> another with 3391-2/3397-3. Are these stampers? Does anybody know
> how to
> distinguish alternate takes on Emerson discs?
> David Seubert, Curator
> Performing Arts Collection
> Davidson Library
> University of California
> Santa Barbara, CA 93106-9010
> Tel: 805-893-5444 Fax: 805-893-5749
> [log in to unmask]