With a few exceptions (one cited by Doug Pomeroy at the last ARSC meeting),
western music is performed at a pitch based on a tuned instrument in the
ensemble.  The tuning is to A-440, plus or minus a few cents.

Pitch divergences are in half-tones and checking the sound a half-step up
and/or down usually does the trick.  There have been occasions where I've
supplied a dubbing in two keys and let the producer decide.

When the older recordings were new (certainly acoustics), it was expected
that the pitch of a record would be set to that of the then-ubiquitous
household piano, hence the keys on some records rather than playing speeds.

Much pop music is in easy keys- seldom more than two accidentals.  For
standard classical pieces, the Barlow and Morgenstern dictionary of themes
series is essential- I keep a vocal book in each room with an operating
turntable, along with a pitch-pipe.

For the rest, the printed music is the answer.  This also solves issues
relating to positioning overlapping side joins.

Even if not proficient in reading music, it's easy enough to count lines and
spaces to the first sustained note, checking the clef.  Accidentals are next
to the clef on the line or space where they are operative.  Accidentals in
the text are also important.  This can be figured out with a little

There are, of course, many disputes over playing speeds- everyone transposed
(sinned) except my favorite singer.

Resolving pitch questions with some of the rawer folk and ethnic recordings
is a different matter, as is that of records which start at one speed and
finish at quite another.

I'm sorry if this sounds condescending or simplistic, but, given the space
this discussion has occupied, I though this needed to be said.

Steve Smolian

----- Original Message -----
From: "Copeland, Peter" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Thursday, August 21, 2003 6:57 AM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] speed policies

> Dear David,
>     You ask specifically about "78rpm era trade journals". For the reasons
> discussed elsewhere on this listserv, I would be equally suspicious of the
> following, which however is the earliest I have found.
>     The English branch of the "Odeon" record company, whose popular logo
> "Jumbo", attempted to correct the previous misdemeanours of its recording
> engineers in the British trade magazine
> "Talking Machine News" (Vol. VI No. 80, September 1908), in which the
> of the then-current issues were tabulated. Subsequently, Jumbo and Odeon
> records carried the recommended speed on the label, in slightly cryptic
> (e.g. "79R" meant "79 revolutions per minute"). And although I haven't
> a formal survey, my impression is that when a later Odeon record *didn't*
> carry a speed, it was often because it was horribly wrong, and the company
> didn't wish to admit it. (A few were reissues of much older records, of
> course).
> Peter Copeland
> -----Original Message-----
> From: David S Sager [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
> Sent: 07 August 2003 16:45
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: [ARSCLIST] speed policies
> Can anyone cite an article regarding any recording companies recording
> speed(s) in 78rpm era trade journails (Talking Machine World, Voice of
> Vic. etc)?
> Many thanks
> D. Sager
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