Pitching spoken records is obviously hard. The same issues apply as with
human singing--raising or lowering the pitch just a little will really
change what the person sounds like when speaking, affecting the emotional
content of what you are hearing. My best suggestion is that after
listening to enough records of the fellow in question, you try to develop a
sense of the right "sound" of his voice, including when he raises or lowers
his speaking pitch (which in my experience all preachers do). Then try to
achieve that same "sound" in recordings that do not conform. My theory on
this is that when a person gets excited and consequently raises the pitch
of his or her speaking voice, he or she will usually go to a quite similar
pitch range, every time. That habitually do what is most comfortable for
them. This is not very scientific, but it is hard to know what to do
otherwise, unless there is some music included in the recording.
On Mon, Jan 22, 2018 at 5:22 PM, Terri Brinegar <[log in to unmask]>
> Thank you all! Such expertise! I am humbled…
> As some of you know, I am writing my dissertation on the recorded sermons
> of Rev. A. W. Nix, who recorded on Vocalion between 1927-1931. While
> listening to his 43 sermons (yes, all of them), and transcribing several of
> them, I have noticed that he “modulates” pitch from sermon to sermon. He is
> fairly consistent pitch-wise, and then suddenly the pitch will shift
> upwards on the next track, sometimes by a fourth (not a small amount). I
> was wondering if recording speed could affect pitch, and it seems, from all
> of your various responses, I see it can. I am grateful for all of your
> valuable feedback!
> Terri Brinegar
> PhD Candidate in Ethnomusicology
> University of Florida
> [log in to unmask]
> [log in to unmask]
> > On Jan 22, 2018, at 5:12 PM, Dennis Rooney <[log in to unmask]>
> > Dear Terri,
> > I hope that what you learned from the posts in answer to your query is
> > there is no such thing as a standard playback speed for any disc medium.
> > Speeds have been published by makers, whose own products confounded that
> > "standard".
> > In a day when almost all phonograph motors were mechanical, there was
> > adjustment of speed to bring a recording either up or down to what was
> > perceived as correct pitch.
> > All cutting lathes had adjustable speed. Lathe operators, when cutting a
> > disc, would often employ a non-standard speed if they calculated that the
> > material recorded was too long to be successfully recorded at standard
> > speed. Also, the use of a non-standard speed would also produce a
> > product with a fuller appearing side. The assumption was that the careful
> > listener could adjust the speed to his preference.
> > As examples of non-standard speed recordings, aside from various examples
> > already cited, are the HMV Sarasate violin recordings, and the famous
> > Victor recording of the Lucia sextet, "Chi mi frena", which suggests on
> > label a playback speed of 82 rpm. Many, many other instances exist. In
> > electrical era, American Columbia engineers constantly recorded at
> > non-standard speeds for all of the reasons already cited, e.g., the
> > Gershwin piano solos are all at speeds other than 78rpm.
> > In addition to deliberate speed "errors", there are inadvertent ones that
> > must be noted. The governor on the lathe occasionally would fail and
> > would change either abruptly or gradually over the side of the record.
> > Stokowski's Victor Philadelphia Orchestra recordings from October 1927
> > particularly prone to this.
> > The only way to detect the correct speed of a record is WITH YOUR EARS.
> > not rely on any published or "suggested" speed for any record made before
> > 1940.
> > Happy listening,
> > DDR
> > On Mon, Jan 22, 2018 at 11:09 AM, Terri Brinegar <
> [log in to unmask]>
> > wrote:
> >> Hello All,
> >> Can anyone tell me if recordings in the 1920s were transferred to disc
> >> exactly the same speed as they were recorded? In other words, if
> someone is
> >> singing an “F” pitch on the recording, is that the actual pitch sung or
> >> could the engineer possibly speed it up somehow, thus raising the pitch?
> >> Not sure if that was possible back then.
> >> Thank you!
> >> Terri Brinegar
> >> PhD Candidate in Ethnomusicology
> >> University of Florida
> >> [log in to unmask]
> >> [log in to unmask]
> > --
> > 1006 Langer Way
> > Delray Beach, FL 33483
> > 561.265.2976