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ARSCLIST  November 2009

ARSCLIST November 2009

Subject:

Re: Walt Whitman Recording

From:

Michael Biel <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Tue, 3 Nov 2009 16:16:01 -0700

Content-Type:

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I've got a nifty disclosure about the "expert" later on in this.  Read
on ----

From: Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>
> The only thing I can't square with the "it's a fake" narrative is, why bother
> making a fake of "Walt Whitman" reading a piece of a somewhat obscure poem?
> Of all the voices to fake, what would be Haley's motivation to pick that
> voice and that poem? Was there a particularly keen interest in Walt Whitman
> at the time that radio show was produced where the recording first showed up?

It was not necessarily an interest specifically in Whitman, just an
interest in general in coming up with rare recordings of rare voices. 
The 1950s was when a lot of the Col. Gouroud recordings and other
recordings made in the 1890s started to get wide publicity and exposure,
especially with the release of "Hark the Years" on Capitol from Bob
Vincent's collection narrated by Frederic March with music by Nat
Shilkret, a whole series of 7-inch microgrooves on the Rare Voices
label, some Ediphone LPs, several LPs of "X number of Presidents Speak",
two LPs put together by Walter Welch, and even the Bud Greenspan sports
LPs.  The spoken word LP came on strong during the 50s, and then
pranksters added into the mix the Oscar Wilde, Walt Whitman, and Grover
Cleveland recordings, trying to get them included and also trying to get
separate publicity for them.  Following the issue of Volume 3 of "I Can
Hear It Now" with all of the fake recordings, most historians started a
careful examination of historical recordings and these three I mentioned
did not pass the muster.  

> Aren't there one or more Edison Site folks on this list? Is it possible
> to check Edison studio records and determine for sure that Whitman didn't
> make a recording? It seems like, that would solve the question once and
> for all, unless the studio records were generally known to be sloppy and 
> incomplete.

Things that were not recorded in the studio for the record company were
not well documented.  Most of the recordings made by Thomas Edison
HIMSELF are not documented except the one for commercial release "Let Us
Not Forget".  The cylinder with piano playing and a slip saying "Edison"
is very controversial since some think it is TAE playing, but I think it
is probably one of the kids.  But it is known that there is no paperwork
suggesting a Whitman visit to Edison.

> Also, why does this guy Patrick quotes get into vertical-cut Edison disks?
> Haley claimed it was a cylinder, no?

Patrick does not quote anything about Edison discs.  It also looks to me
that this Dave Beauvais quote seems to say that the recording is a fake.
 This statement that it either is a fake or is  exceptionally well
equalized and that all Edison vertical recordings were superbly
equalized is a pile of crap.  Just because a recording was made on an
Edison machine doesn't make it an "Edison recording".  It would be more
than likely that if Whitman showed up to record it would be done on
whatever machine was convenient.  When the Edison company set out to
make a commercial record, an expert recorder can pick a horn and
recording head that might produce good results, but you don't "equalize"
acoustical recordings, you equalize electrical recordings AND WITH
ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT WE CAN EQUALIZE ELECTRICAL RECORDINGS TO TRY TO
SOUND LIKE ACOUSTICAL RECORDINGS.  

> This definitely sounds like what Mike calls "dueling journal articles",
> but I have to say that Allen clearly did more gumshoe work. -- Tom Fine

What the hell is "Magic Media Services in Amherst, Massachusetts"?????? 
Do they work "magic" on old recordings?????????  Does he do it with "the
latest sound-reduction technology"?  Did he do the processing for the
ten buck copies Folsom was peddling to "curious WWQR readers"??

Folsom and Beauvais of Magic Media shows how much a novice they both are
is in the field of recordings when Beauvais stated it "'strains
credibility just a bit' to suppose anyone would have set out to fake the
strange and presumably 19th-century inflectional patterns he hears in
the recording".  NO IT DOESN"T.  I have mentioned other cases were it
had been done, and anyone who did not know of those cases is not worthy
to be paid attention to in a situation like this.  They obviously do not
have experience enough to be considered an expert.   

At this point while writing this I was pissed off, and decided to Google
Dave Beauvais.  You won't believe what comes up about their "expert". 
He ain't no expert in old recordings.  Not by a long shot.  Look at this
page.  It is astonishing that for all these years all these people have
been basing their belief that the Whitman recording is legit on THIS
GUY!!!!  http://www.linkedin.com/pub/dave-beauvais/5/794/607

THE RECORDING IS A FAKE, AND THE EXPERT IS A DOOFUS.

I do not know if there was any financial gain in these frauds, beyond
selling some of those lacquers I mentioned, or Folsom selling his ten
buck tapes.  Could be the thrill of fooling CBS into including the
Cleveland recording on their LP?  Over in the Old Time Radio world we
have a similar thing that has just become controversial.  A noted
reputable author, Martin Grams, posted last month that there is a second
recording of Welles Mercury Theatre "War of the Worlds" that has some
significant differences from the well known recording.  The loss of the
rehearsal recording has been well documented and there was no repeat
broadcast, so this announcement created some angry responses.  Martin
brought the recording to the live broadcast we did on YesterdayUSA on
Friday night from Grovers Mill, NJ, with Neal Ellis, Ken Stockinger,
myself, Leah, and Martin.   As we drove to the site, all of us
immediately spotted the differences, and Neal and I, being expert audio
editors, pronounced the recording a msnipulation and purposeful
tampering.  Spaces between sentences were trimmed, a musical phrase was
repeated, some verbal errors were poorly fixed, some phrases were
deleted, some speed and pitch manipulations were done, but NOTHING NEW
WAS ADDED.  This version has been in circulation for 5 or 10 years but
was never spotted until Martin noticed it.  Some people may have had it
without knowing it was not the real recording!  We are now in a search
to figure out when it entered the OTR stream and who might have done it.
 Nobody has ever tried to promote and sell it for financial gain and/or
notoriety, maybe because it would have been so easily debunked -- we had
it pegged within seconds.  

But all of this shows how necessary it is that originals be protected
and archived.  We MUST be able to get back to as close to the original
as possible.  

Mike Biel   [log in to unmask]     


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Patrick Feaster" <[log in to unmask]>
> On Tue, Nov 3, 2009 at 12:42 AM, Michael Biel <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
>> We seem to have a case of dueling journal articles. On our side is
>> Allen Koenigsburg's APM article and the other one that everyone on the
>> web seems to be referencing to is Ed Folsom, "The Whitman Recording,"
>> Walt Whitman Quarterly Review, 9 (Spring 1992), 214-16.
>
>
> Found the WWQR in the library here at Indiana University Bloomington. Here
> are the salient bits of the article:
>
> Folsom quotes Sam B's comments from NPR and then goes on: "But other experts
> disagree with Brylawski's analysis, and the consensus of those who have
> experience with wax cylinder recordings is that the recording is in fact an
> authentic 1890-era wax cylinder. Dave Beauvais, for example, who operates
> Magic Media Services in Amherst, Massachusetts....." A quotation from Mr.
> Beauvais follows. "This has either been exceptionally well equalized or its
> a fake," Sam had reportedly said, and Mr. Beauvais takes this as his cue to
> observe that collectors know Edison vertical-cut recordings were *all*
> superbly equalized; besides, it "strains credibility just a bit" to suppose
> anyone would have set out to fake the strange and presumably
> 19th-century inflectional patterns he hears in the recording.
>
> Later in the article, Folsom notes that tapes of the Whitman recording are
> available for curious WWQR readers to purchase at $10 apiece, processed with
> "the latest sound-reduction technology."
>
> - Patrick
>

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