The Brunswick Light Ray recording process was indeed based on the GE
Pallophotophone process invented by Charles Hoxie. It later became the
basis for the Fox variable density sound-on-film system (which William
Fox used as the basis of a patent infringement lawsuit in the 1930's).
Western Electric also had a hand in the process as well. I would have to
dig back to sort out all the patents, but I think that GE and Fox may
have licensed some of Hoxie's and Western's patents for the system.
Don't quote me on this though-the history of who did what when is very
Deutsche Grammophon also used some similar technology around 1925, which
I believe was based on the German Tri-Ergon system from 1919. Not clear
on what the corporate connection might have been to either Brunswick or
GE during this period. Haven't had time to research this far back on
film sound history yet.
Scott D. Smith CAS
Chicago Audio Works, Inc.
On 10/12/2012 3:07 PM, Dennis Rooney wrote:
> Dear Dave,
> It has been more than fifty years since I last looked at some issues, but I
> seem to recall an article on the Light Ray process in THE PHONOGRAPH
> MONTHLY REVIEW sometime in 1927. I don't know how accessible they are. The
> Philadelphia Free Library has a set (1926-32).
> On Tue, Oct 9, 2012 at 9:42 AM, David Lewis <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> Dr. B wrote:
>> In late 1922
>> Hewitt had a visit from Charles Hoxie who was doing sound-on-film
>> recording for GE and WGY, and loaned Hewitt some of the equipment.
>> Parts of this system was later the basis of the Brunswick Light Ray
>> Recording process which is not such a mystery as Dave Lewis seems to
>> Well, good. Perhaps you can point me to a study on the light ray
>> technology. I'm interested in it, but never encountered much on it save
>> record collector's scuttlebutt.
>> As usual, there is no mention of Orlando Marsh in this thread. And to my
>> knowledge Autograph did not issue anything before 1924, though
>> I've never encountered a formal, or even informal, listing of their
>> releases. Nevertheless, Rainbow 1026, "Oh My Soul Bless Thou Jehovah"
>> and "Tis the Precious Name of Jesus" by tenor Loren Jones appears to be a
>> Marsh electrical. It is difficult to date precisely, and the copy I
>> have seen comes from a period whereby Homer was stamping out the centers of
>> his master discs and replacing them for some reason, so
>> that the mx. number is lost. But it was available by his third catalog,
>> published in October 1922. And typically there is no mention on the disc
>> that it is electrical; Rainbow was well past the number 1026 at that time,
>> and it appears this disc was used to fill in for an intended issue that
>> didn't come about for some reason.
>> Although it wasn't issued at the time, one very early Marsh disc that
>> survives is the "Unknown Black Band" performing "Muscle Shoals Blues"
>> from late 1921; it is Marsh mx. "19" and I don't know of an earlier one
>> than that.
>> The band is officially "unknown," but unofficially believed to be Tim
>> Brymn's Black Devil Orchestra. On their arrival in Chicago from the
>> theater the Brymn unit, which was still military at that time, set up at a
>> local Armory and played music in addition to conducting military drills.
>> of the drills were filmed by Oscar Micheaux and shown as part
>> of a newsreel exhibited along with one of his features though -- like so
>> many of his
>> films -- it no longer is known to survive, and we don't even know what the
>> title of that may have been.
>> I think one of the reasons Orlando Marsh seems to get so little love is
>> that his electricals don't sound like electricals; they sound like
>> somewhat louder
>> acousticals with extra distortion added. Note the blasting on the drums
>> here, which would likely have precluded its release if Marsh had any way to
>> issue his records in 1921. While I will certainly not argue against the
>> "Tomb of the Unknown Soldier" as the first issued electrical, and this
>> track was not
>> issued until the 2000s, I would humbly suggest that this might be the
>> earliest surviving electrical recording of music.
>> I also used to have a cardboard flexi from Canada which contained choral
>> music, recorded electrically in 1924. I don't remember the details on it,
>> but they
>> claimed it was the first electrical recording; it is certainly still very
>> Uncle Dave Lewis
>> Lebanon, OH