I once asked someone from Historic Masters,who I met through this list,why
they,or somebody else,did not put out a similar series of nonoperatic records.I
specifically mentioned rare recordings,like the acoustic sides on Edison-Bell
Velvet Face,by Eugene Goosens,and the acoustic solo cello recordings,by John
Barbirolli.I was told for most of these things,it was impossible to do
this,because the metal parts,and such no longer existed.Why isn't this the case
with a lot of these opera,and vocal records HM puts out? Are some of these made
from needle drops?
From: George Brock-Nannestad <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Tue, November 16, 2010 4:48:41 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Historic Masters--One guy's opinion
From: Patent Tactics, George Brock-Nannestad
Martin, just a few words to say that I am very happy that you are promoting
this worthwhile endeavour. I shall interject a few comments where I have some
> Just wanted to share part of a recent email that I sent off to Roger
> Beardsley of Historic Masters with my list serve buddies. Anyone have their
> own opinions?
> I think I might have mentioned this before. I may be coming at Historic
> Masters from a slightly deviant point of view. Although I love the subject
> matter (singers and music, both popular and classical in nature, of the
> "golden" era) I'm really just becoming familiar with many of the artists,
> repertoire and background. Needless to say I've found the HM accompanying
> notes to be invaluable at leading to an appreciation of what's actually
> recorded on the discs and thank you all so much for them. What really draws
> me to HM pressings is the fact that they ARE derived from the ORIGINAL
> MATRICES or as true to accurate copies as possible. This is a treasure for
> the technically minded individual who is interested in early recording
> techniques and practices. Each side is a case study in itself. It would be
> fascinating to get more information on the various processes of preparing
> the "shells" from the discovery stage to pressing of the vinyl. These have
> been alluded to in the past but not delved into with a great deal of
----- this is described in some technical detail in: Sean Davies:
"Manufacturing Recordings From 100 Years Old Masters", AES Convention Paper
No. 7456, 124th Convention, Amsterdam 2008 May 17-20. Available from the AES
website at $20 for non-members, $5 for members.
> F'r instance....I've noticed that several of the sides in the Tamagno ten
> inch set are from parts that seem to have been ?polished to death? The
> surfaces are smoother (shiny) but the stylus never seems to really seat
> itself and this results in dullness, fuzziness and distortion that doesn't
> seem to be present on the rougher looking sides. I'd imagine this is the
> result of earlier attempts at "sprucing up" the metals by the parent
> companies for more recent reissue.
----- this was quite a messy business. It is extremely interesting to follow
and compare the various pressings, with their run-out grooves manufactured
post-recording, and in particular the style of the matrix numbers. I wrote a
paper and guide to these mechanical markings, "How is discography related to
the physical object?" "- presented at the seminar "Dokumentation av 78-
varvsepoken i Skandinavien", SLBA, Stockholm 12-13 February 2005. This text
used to be available somewhere on the Royal Library of Sweden website.
However, and this is very important, I have not actually made this systematic
study of Tamagno records that is required, but I encourage it. In some
respects it would appear that the Historic Masters' pressings are from metals
that cannot have been the most original. When the VMA white-label HMV-series
came out ca. 1949 the metals had been polished quite visibly.
This same characteristic is true of many
> (I hesitate to say "ALL" but it might be a more accurate statement) of the
> RCA Heritage series of 1940 or 50 era repressings in red vinyl.
----- Victor Talking Machine Co. pioneered the use of two processes for
making more durable grooves. One was a "pinch-effect" removal: running a
spherically-tipped stylus at slow speed through a very thin copper positive
so that the grooves would yield and expand. This was internally called "the
ironing-out process". These were the metals that were used for the Heritage
Series,and consequently you will have the least distortion using a spherical
stylus on replay, but never as good as the originals. If that did not work
for the VTMC, they did a slow mechanical dubbing by just connecting a
reproducing stylus to a recording stylus on a different machine via a
straight rod that was covered in vibration-damping material. Some have
believed that this was indicated by S/8 in the wax. The use of this process
may be proven by differences in rpm.
> also one of the ten inch Tamagno sides that shows evidence of filling in of
> the runout. These and other anomalies really do spark some interesting
> Several weeks ago on either the ARSC or 78-L list serve there was
> speculation on the processes of cutting the eccentric lead out grooves on
> post 1922/1923 Victors and the like.
----- many of those were not cut at all but rolled into the mother. The
earlier types used by Deutsche Grammophone were actually just traced by a
scriber around a semi-circular template.
> All this to say that, with me, it's not only what's in the
> groove........it's the GROOVE ITSELF. Therefore, I find that Historic
> Masters is not only providing a service to the music listening population
> but also an affordable window into the past for the historian of the
> recording industry and the practices employed in preserving all of the great
> music and voices of the past. For that we should also be grateful.